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If you lived your life based on what you read about crime in the daily papers, you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. The same is true of much of what we’re seeing on Web security. Web insecurity is news; successful Web security isn’t. Nevertheless, the media reports about Web security breaches are mostly correct.



The Web can be a dangerous place for consumers and businesses. One recent report says credit card fraud is now 12 times higher online than in-store, while another report pegs online fraud at four times the old-fashioned kind. No matter how you slice it, that’s a pretty scary statistic.

But we must also realize that the Web is driving double-digit sales growth and that online fraud still accounts for less than 1.2 cents out of every dollar spent online. As IT professionals, do we have a challenge managing Web security? Yes, we do, but it’s manageable.

Ease of use, flexibility and economy need to be built into the way we manage Web commerce risk. Today, the customer is asked to provide several layers of information for authentication: user ID, password, credit card number and possibly other identifying information such as his or her date of birth, address or zip code. If this information checks out with the credit card company and the business, the customer is allowed to complete the transaction.

But the natural corollary to all these layers of authentication is that consumers are wary of the Web. They know that a social security number entered online could wind up in an identity thief’s hands. They know that a phone number or e-mail address given for “questions about your order” could quickly turn into dinnertime sales pitches or junk e-mails flooding their inboxes. And they want it to stop.

Lack of Confidence Costs

Have you ever considered what you’re losing in online business by not managing security better? It’s estimated that electronic commerce would double if people had greater confidence that their privacy was protected on the Web. In fact, the lack of confidence in privacy outpaces all other concerns--including price and ease of use--in inhibiting people from buying on the Web.

Harris Interactive says 70 percent of consumers worry that their online transactions aren’t secure, and 75 percent are concerned that companies will share their personal information with others. Those fears reduced U.S. online purchasing by $15 billion last year, according to the latest consumer research.

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