Once the PC vendor has received the order and verified the validity of
the customer's account, the vendor must ship the product. Many personal
computer vendors custom assemble each PC as orders arrive. In
Tenenbaum's plan, the PC vendor would also rely on the Internet as a
way for retail vendors to send orders to its suppliers.
Orders for everything from the chassis to the motherboard to the
monitor would be sent over the Internet. With computerized inventory
control, such orders could be placed online automatically, with the
retailer able to operate using just-in-time inventory methods.
In fact, Tenenbaum sees virtual corporations springing up as a result
of these technologies. Retail firms might become so intimately linked
to their suppliers-with order processing occurring so fluidly and
rapidly-that the nature of the relationship between suppliers and
retailers would be changedaltogether.
Encrypted credit-card transactions are only one type of business that
companies would like to conduct on the Internet. In the everyday
business world, signatures are an essential element-for signing
purchase orders, contracts, and the like. Most companies will accept
facsimile transmissions of some documents, but Internet e-mail is
easily enough `spoofed ` that its use is discouraged for these
applications. Some sort of digital signature is required to verify the
integrity of such documents.
The major elements of security required for commerce on the Internet, therefore, are the following: