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Security Issues on the Internet Online security

-- Girish Warrier

Lets assume that you have a website of your own. Your website allows transactions online. You type in your website's domain to see those lovely articles, beautiful pictures that you meticulously engineered to put on your site. Alas!

You see unfamiliar things. Things that you have never intended to publish have come up on your monitor. Something has gone haywire. Did you type the domain name wrong? You check with the network administrator and to his dismay, he too looks at the page with the same amount of astonishment as you feel. Where did things go wrong? Did you think of hackers, viruses and lurking cyber goons?

Enough to give you an aversion. How do you prevent this? An efficient firewall is the armor your network needs to combat most of these threats.

Does your website offer online transactions too? You may have been wondering about the safety and security aspects involved in online transactions.

Just consider a scenario where you stay at a hotel and pay your bill through credit card - there is nothing to stop the clerk to make a copy of your credit card information. For any kind of transaction, all that is important is your credit card number and the expiry date. Keeping this in mind would you stick with the myth of avoiding e-commerce? You will be looking for greater security for that golden number that you hold.

Enabling online transaction on your website is not all that simple. Let me describe what it would mean.

Online payments

To verify online credit card details you would need to sign up for a merchant account like, www.linkpoint.com or www.authorize.net for accepting payments online. In addition to this you would need to apply for a digital certificate from an authenticating agency.

Encryption and SSL

Using a Digital Certificate (Digital ID) in conjunction with SSL encryption provides complete security for all parties involved in a transaction. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is again a service that is universally accepted on the World Wide Web for authenticated and encrypted communication between clients and servers. The most commonly used agencies are Thawte and Verisign. Both have online applications to speed up the process. Also, usually hosting companies have a tie-up with these companies.

Is encryption the only means of security?

Valid question !!! For greater security, the network must have firewalls.

Firewalls

Firewalls are tools that are used to enhance the security of computers connected to a network, such as a Local Area Network or the Internet. Firewalls deny or accept all messages and sites based on a list that is stored in the system. This is usually decided by a system administrator.

The two kinds of firewall mechanisms are namely packet filtering and stateful packet inspection. The former does not check the content of a message where as the later checks the content, thereby providing more security.

Are there any tools to monitor the security aspects of a website?

To maintain security of network and data resources, continuous monitoring of network activity becomes mandatory. Our system administrators detect anomalous readings by the automatic notification during monitoring.

We at Stylus have effective secure procedures that are based on the computer security policy. Procedures address topics like retrieving programs from the network, connecting to the site's system from home or while traveling, using encryption, authentication for issuing accounts, configuration, and monitoring. We ensure the integrity of system software on a regular basis.

We have a security policy and a clear high-level document plan for organization-wide computer and information security. It provides a framework for making specific decisions, such as online credit card use and how to configure merchant account services etc.

Internet/ecommerce security isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. The two arms of website security are firewall and encryption, which when combined can guarantee safe transaction and secure transfer of information to the right place. The monitoring of tools that will maintain vigilance on your hardware and software security has to be of primary importance. The security policies and procedures are the salient processes that any software corporate must consider. As the business use of the Internet increases day by day, network security will become crucial to the development of the Internet.

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