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4.2.2 A head for business

Several dozen companies are working on extensions to Internet protocols to provide these types of security features (see Section 4.1). One of the first firms to announce such an effort was Silicon Valley's Enterprise Integration Technologies (EIT). EIT is working to provide Internet tools that will allow retail firms and shoppers to conduct business online as well as let businesses handle online transactions with their suppliers.

One of EIT's endeavors is support of CommerceNet, a consortium of California's Silicon Valley companies. The purpose of CommerceNet is to develop Internet technologies that will secure commercial interaction among firms in the Valley. A specific focus is to help foster their use of the Internet for commerce among these firms and customers across the globe.

Marty Tenenbaum, EIT's president, offered an example of an individual customer who wants to buy a personal computer from a retailer in the Valley. The customer would scan the company's online catalog using a secure version of a World-Wide Web browser such as Mosaic; no special security features would be required while the customer was browsing the catalog. Should the customer decide to order a machine, he or she would fill out a form with the desired options for the PC and submit the purchase order to the Web server at the retailer.

This is where security features become important. Although many consumers have sent credit-card numbers over the Internet via e-mail and World-Wide Web forms, those who are knowledgeable about Internet security are concerned about the information being intercepted, either on local networks or on any of the intervening networks between the consumer's desktop and the vendor's site. Tenenbaum's vision calls for a secure Mosaic, which would use public-key cryptography to encrypt the consumer's order to keep sensitive credit-card information safe from prying eyes.


next up previous
Next: 4.2.3 The safe sell Up: 4.2 A Tool to Previous: 4.2.1 Introduction
Denis Arnaud
12/19/1997