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
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.