As the Internet grows in popularity every day, so too does electronic commerce. Electronic commerce, simply put, is the exchange of money for goods and services via electronic means. In other words, electronic commerce is when you purchase something off of the Internet. Electronic commerce is often referred to as e-commerce, or e-business. In this paper I will be discussing the technical side of e-commerce, security, different points of view regarding e-business, and of course my personal opinion and experiences. First I would like to discuss the types of e-business. E-business can be anything from purchasing a toaster from a department store online to checking your bank statement online. All are examples of the many aspects of e-business. There are several aspects of e-business unique to it. When comparing traditional business to e-business, one can see several differences between the two. The most obvious difference when buying standard goods (such as a toaster, a book, or a new computer) is the store. When dealing with e-business there is no “real” store or merchandise to look at. It is all presented through the merchant’s webpage, or by other electronic means. You will not be able to touch, or inspect potential purchases. All you will have to go on is perhaps a picture and a brief description of the item in question. This is obviously a big change from traditional store-based business practices. Why would any self-respecting consumer buy something via e-business if they were unable to touch, or inspect a potential purchase, and there is a real store just down the street? There are several reasons why e-business is appealing to a growing amount of people. For example, e-business is based on the Internet. If you are using the Internet, you are not bound by geography. You can access any site, anywhere in the world from the comfort of your computer chair. What does this mean to the consumer? Now the consumer has access to several things they didn’t before.
The consumer now has diversity. With the entire internet at your fingers, in a matter of minutes you can browse several stores in several parts of the world without even leaving your home. This allows you to compare prices and products. With e-business you are not restricted to the prices and products of you local stores. You can easily choose the best price on the best product. Purchasing goods electronically is becoming easier by the day. The majority of e-businesses have software set up on their webpage to take and record your order as well as your credit card and personal information. The software is set up such that you can order anything you want without having to interact with anyone what so ever. You just have to enter your credit card number, address, and other personal information. Some people are not comfortable with the concept of sending their credit card number or other personal to a potential merchant over the internet, but are more comfortable using the telephone. Most businesses know this and have set up a special number or other means to talk to a representative from the company to settle any questions, and to accept credit card numbers or other means of payment. There are of course several security issues involved in both forms of commerce. I will discuss security in greater detail later in the paper. The popularity of e-business is growing almost as fast as the technology itself. More and more people are using their computers to buy what ever they want, whenever they want. Every day there is an increasing number of companies that join the electronic world of business. Companies spend millions of dollars a year to setup and maintain a website designed for e-business. Why are they willing to spend so much? Most business people have a good knowledge of how and why business works. It is not hard to see that there is a huge market in e-business. With the price of computers going down each day, more and more people have the opportunity to get in on their piece of cyberspace.
A Typical E-business Transaction & Security Information: A few methods in which e-business is conducted are shopping, and online banking. Let’s examine the shopping aspect of e-business first. When you go to a site to buy something, a site such as www.amazon.com, there are a few things you should notice. They have something called a shopping cart. When you finally decide that you want to buy something, you enter the quantity you wish to purchase, and then “add to shopping cart”. The shopping cart it a CGI script used to keep track of the things you want, and how many. This is a way to keep track of everything while you can continue shopping. When you are finished adding everything to the shopping cart, then you choose the option to “check out”. This starts another CGI script that takes all of your personal data such as your name, address, and phone number, as well as your credit card number. When you examine the online banking portion of e-business, you have a few more things to consider. In order to use online banking, you will have to have an account with the bank in question. Once you have your account, you can go to the bank’s webpage and set it up by giving them account and personal information. Then you will be able to use their software to access your account. There is definitely an issue with privacy in both cases. It is obvious that customers do not what their personal information released. A more important issue, perhaps more important than your personal information is your credit card number. This can be used by anyone who has it. There is no real way to stop someone from using your number at another site to buy things with out your permission. This is a major concern of the e-business industry. Should the consumer be concerned? Well, yes and no. The first thing you should be concerned with is the validity of the e-business itself. Unless the company can offer you some kind of assurance that you can agree with, you should stick to the companies you know and trust. Many businesses you have been using for years are now making the push to provide an electronic method to shop. Once you have established that you are in fact dealing with a respectable firm, you in most cases have nothing more to worry about. Most respectable companies use data encryption to secure online transfers. These sites use your browser to encrypt data so that no one without the decryption key can gain access to your information. Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape come standard with 40-bit encryption. With your data encrypted, even with a 40-bit.