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The purpose of this paper is to discuss internet security and privacy, as it relates to e-business. The topics that will be covered are the following; the benefits and consequences of using an open environment and an overly secure environment. What is meant by this two terms as well as why they are important to e-business? The last topics that will be discussed are the legal and ethical issues surrounding the handling of personal information.
An open environment as it relates to e-business is an environment that exists where commerce can be conducted without obstruction where anyone can have access. The internet is one such open environment for e-commerce (e-commerce is the business of buying and selling done electronically instead of physical exchanges). The advantages or benefits of using open environment (meaning site that uses minimal or no security measures) are; the site is easier to use, anyone can browse the site, and it cost less to operate. An open environment allows the user access without having to register or take the time to login. Anyone can see the site and pay for items much faster; than sites that require the user to login. This may make it easier to navigate. The site is less expensive to operate, because the owner is not paying for extra security measures that include encryption programs for personal and payment information, and third party fees to companies such as PayPal for handling the payment process (Brenner, n.d)
The problems or consequences that can occur when using an open environment can include hackers that can get into the system and steal information, such as social security numbers, and banking information examples are credit and debit card numbers leading to identity theft. There are other problems that could arise causing damage to the system, like cyber-attacks an example would be malware, this is malicious software that includes spyware, and computer viruses gets into a computer or network without the owners knowledge. This software is used to steal information, change data, damage hard drives and make a computer inoperable (Swain, 2009). Losing customers could be another disadvantage of using an open environment. Websites that are protected have clearly posted security policies. With this information letting users know that the website is secure may be unwilling to do any business on the site for fear that there information could be stolen (Better Business Bureau, 2012)
The idea of having a secure environment was to keep information from being stolen, and to keep the wrong people from having access to the computer or network. The use of anti-virus software, firewalls, and encryption programs were once considerate all that was necessary to protect information; but as e-business has grown organizations have to have more enhanced security systems. An example on an overly secure environment is the intranet. This is a network within an organization; the advantage of this is that the organization’s information is kept within the organization and can only be viewed by those who can access it. An overly secure environment has the benefit of allowing managers to have more control over what information is released; keeping clients and other business partners private information more secure.
An overly secure environment keeps information in where it belongs and intruders out of the network denying them access to any information (Technical Security, n.d) Just as an overly secure environment has its advantages; it also has its disadvantages, or consequences. An overly secure environment can cause webpages to load slowly. This could frustrate customers who then decide not to do business with the company. Multiple layers of security can cause a conflict in the system causing to not operate properly or shut down completely. It can also cause problems with the system becoming too rigid making it harder for employees to do their jobs and causing the company to be less competitive (Antonopoulos, 2011, May 11). Businesses and organization have an ethical and legal obligation to handle personal information in such a way that the information is not compromised. Organizations have legal obligations to have adequate systems in place to guard the personal information that they have.
There must be clearly written policies that explain the organization handling of personal information. Business must dispose of personal information by shredding the documents or permanently deleting electronic information whether they are employees, or customers according to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (GPO, 2012). The ethical considerations include privacy and confidentiality of information that is gathered and stored. Customers expect that their information will be kept private for example when an e-mail is given as part of a business transaction, there is an expectation that the information will not be passed onto a third party. To do so would violate the trust given to the organization by the user. Keeping information confidential is also an ethical issue, meaning how much and what kind of information can be disclosed (Westfall, n.d) In conclusion; the information age has presented many challenges as well as many advantages.
The internet has provided away for business to sell the products on a global scale, students can learn without ever entering a physical classroom, and there is more knowledge available to everyone who chooses to take advantage of it. With so much information comes the responsibility of dealing with it in a legal and ethical manner, the questions then becomes how can all this protected; and how should it be handled? Should business use an overly secure environment, where it may make it harder for customers to use the site, or insecure environment that reduces cost, and makes it easier for the public to use, making information more accessible to everyone; including hackers and thieves? Is there any way to make sure that the information is kept confidential guaranteeing privacy? If so; how far should organization go to do so? These are just a few of the question that will continue to be asked as information and security continue to collide.
Antonopoulos, A. (2011, May 11). Can we have too much security? Information retrieved online December 11, 2012. http://www.networkworld.com/columnists/2011/053111-andreas.html Better Business Bureau, (n.d). Data security guide. Information retrieved online. December 11, 2012. http://www.bbb.org/data-security/intro-to-small-businesses/ Brenner, L, (n.d). Advantages and disadvantages of doing e-commerce on an insecure environment. Online article retrieved December 11, 2012. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-doing-ecommerce-business-insecure-environment-10209.html GPO. (n.d). Electronic code or federal regulations. Information retrieved online. December 11, 2012. http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=636cbcb63dd25d85afab80ce0f5817ed&rgn=div5&view=text&node=16:126.96.36.199.80&idno=16#16:1.0.1