Thursday, September 9, 2010

Basic Internet Rights - Implies Security

In a recent discussion with a colleague, they mentioned their teenagers consider basic human rights to include cell phone, TV, and internet. Ah, the privileged youth of today! It is easy to see how people could start to equate their tether to electronics and the internet as intimately tied to their rights.

In the same light, one could also see how the general public would assume all internet transactions are secure. After all, such transactions are secure since they are encrypted right? It is a good thing that many web users have the general knowledge of transaction security when they see a picture of a lock on their browser, or when they see that "https" is being used for the transaction.

But the unfortunate reality is that encrypted traffic is only part of the overall security equation leading to a secure transaction. We are constantly reminded of the criminal element trying to steal credit cards and credit cardholder data. A case in point is the recent arrest of Vladislav Horohorin, arrested by French authorities through an undercover investigation by the U.S. Secret Service Horohorin was a founder of CarderPlanet, with a primary objective of sharing information on how to commit credit card fraud (theft) using the internet.

It takes determined sophistication to build a secure credit card processing application and configure it on a server so that it will function securely and accurately. Also it is easy to make mistakes since programmers and IT administrators are just human.

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council has a mission to protect credit card security on the internet. One could think of their mission as protecting our internet credit card rights. It is good to see they are updating the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) to version 2.0. The PCI DSS is currently used to assess any company which handles credit card data, and many companies have been assessed.

If only the teenagers of today could see what is happening behind the scenes to deliver their basic internet security rights to them! How else could they securely purchase the latest Taylor Swift tune, purchase flowers over the internet, or apply for their drivers license renewal online? If they could only see how life was before the internet....

Jeff Jilg Ph.D.

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