The original makers of the internet did not intend it to be a place where business transactions would take place. However, many businesses have turned to the internet as a means of conducting financial transactions and advertising given its ease of access. With money changing hands so easily over the internet, thieves are constantly coming up with ways of stealing crucial information like credit card numbers and other personal information.
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Therefore, the big question remains; is the internet safe for any business transaction? It could be, but the involved parties must take all the necessary precautions to prevent internet fraud on its part as well as their customer’s.
Risks Involved There are numerous risks for business especially small ones that choose to transact online. One such risk is identity theft, this is the crime involved when a person steals another’s personal identification information be it their credit card number, social security number or their ATM PIN (Miller, 2008, p.3).
The stolen information can then be used against the victim as a means of blackmail, for industrial espionage or even to gain access to his or her financial accounts. Tactics used in executing identity theft are important to understand as they form the basis of creating adequate security while online.
They include phishing where one is mislead by genuine looking sites to give away personal information, Spyware which are small program hidden and running in the computer that gives away one’s information and even hacking where the criminal hacks into your system and steals your information (Baskin & Piltzecker, 2006, p.80). The others are email interception and wi-fi data sniffing especially in public hotspots.
The other risk is tampering where the victim has his data compromised through various means such as viruses, worms, Trojans or even directly. This can be used by a competitor to destroy the reputation of the victim or simply gain advantage over him or her in business. In light of these risks, it is important to take necessary precautions to prevent internet fraud.
Solutions There are several precautions one can take to safeguard themselves against online attacks. For a business considering going online the first thing should be to understand their security concerns then come up with a security plan (Reuvid, 2005, p. 4). The next thing should be to ensure the computers are well protected using regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
In addition, having a firewall is essential in blocking most of the hackers and unwanted sites. Even though these might be expensive to implement a small to medium business cannot afford the loss that they prevent. Another precaution that cannot be overemphasized is the use of passwords, these should be long (about eight characters) and consist of numbers, lower and uppercase letters and special characters (Sinclair, 2007, p.264).
Dictionary words are insecure as programs exist to reveal such passwords. Finally, when browsing the internet: Do not follow links given in emails even if they seem genuine and do not download files and applications from suspicious websites. A security plan that takes all these precautions into considerations should be adhered to strictly.
Conclusion Online threats to businesses are a reality but also is the technology that has been developed to counter it. I think that since all businesses involve risks then there is no point being deterred from going online just because of the threats involved. Businesses need to develop a plausible security for the success of online transactions with limited risks.
Baskin, B., & Piltzecker, T. (2006). Combating Spyware in the Enterprise. Rockland: Syngress Publishers.
Miller, M. (2008). Is It Safe?: Protecting Your Computer, Your Business, and Yourself Online. New York: Que Publishing.
Reuvid, J. (2005). The Secure Online Business Handbook:. London: Kogan Page Publishers.
Sinclair, J. T. (2007). EBay Business the Smart Way: Maximize your Profits on the Web’s #1 Auction Site. New York: AMACOM publishers.