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Financial Transactions On The Web
The Internet is now used for commercial transactions of all kinds, and is often more convenient, less expensive, and more secure than off-line purchases.
In general, buying things on the Internet is as safe as buying something by any other means. The risk of interception of your credit card number in transit over the net is low, and almost impossible when it is properly encrypted. And once it gets to the destination site it is usually as secure as with any other business that processes credit card numbers. There have been few reports of widespread problems using credit cards with well known, trustworthy sites, although there have been a disconcerting number of reports of companies financial databases being hacked with potential disclosure of previously recorded transactions.
Of course, never give your credit card number or other personal information to a site sent to you in spam email or to a site you don't know anything else about before searching for independent information about it.
If you buy a lot of things over the net, you might want to get a separate credit card for all of your Internet transactions, which makes it easier to keep track of your virtual finances.
The Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) standard was widely promoted in the late 1990's as the best architecture for secure Internet commerce, had the support of many major industry players, and has influenced the development of subsequent efforts. A key feature of SET was the hiding of a buyer's credit card number from the organization they are buying from, so that a central organization would authenticate your credit card number, provide the seller with confirmation, and forward the funds, without revealing personal information to every online shop and store you wanted to buy something from. The industry has now implemented many of the SET features in practice, if not quite as the overarching architecture originally envisioned, with the financial aspects of many online sales taking place through large and increasingly trusted online merchants like Yahoo Stores, Paypal, and others.
Most sites that accept your credit card number also use encryption with the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol to hide your financial data as it is sent from your computer to the web server. You can tell when a site is using SSL when the URL contains the prefix "https:", often with a picture of a closed lock or key shown on the bottom border of the browser window. The latest update to SSL is the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.
One efficient way to manage your web transactions is described below:
Resources. Several companies worked on virtual electronic cash technologies in the early years to push forward the processes and technologies, including Cybercash.com, Ecashtechnologies.com, Millicent.com, and Mondex.com, although the rising acceptance of credit card use and browser encryption methods ended up largely displacing most of their efforts. The following references provide information on Internet commercial standards: