eComWorld April 2001

Most FUD revolves around the security of consumers' credit details. Don't shop online because hackers will have instant access to your VISA number, runs the misconception. In reality, in the majority of cases, shopping via a Web site is just as safe as buying from a catalogue or over the phone, or in situations, like restaurants, where you and your credit card are separated for a length of time.

As a consumer, you're protected by the way banks and credit companies deal with transactions where the consumer is not present. In most cases, if fraud is proven, you won't have to pay for goods you did not buy.

Good news for consumers, in this case, means bad news for merchants. If a customer can prove to their credit company's satisfaction that they did not order certain goods, that company won't honour the payment - even if you've dispatched the order. The sad fact here is that you'll be out of pocket.

For this reason, eComWorld this month turns to security and fraud. On the security side we look at how you can fulfil your obligations to consumers by protecting their details and securing the transaction. This need not be through expensive products or consulting services, as more and more products are reaching the market aimed at helping smaller companies do business online. Similarly, there are procedural steps you can take to make your e-commerce operation more secure, such as limiting access to customer and order information.

While it's true that more products are available for security than combating fraud, new products in this area are becoming available that can help you assess each transaction for potential deception - some charge per transaction, so you're not hit by large technology purchase charges. Like security, however, there are also ways you can ensure you don't ship orders that won't be paid for. One method could be to confirm the details via phone for orders over a certain amount.

Clearly, it's not just a case of being able to afford the best and fastest software and hardware. Like nearly everything you do through e-commerce, the issues surrounding security and fraud can be dealt with by a combination of business strategies and technology.

And to ensure we can measure the progression towards our goal of 2001 Web sites online by 2001, we invite you to register your business's Web site with us. We'll be providing an online directory - categorised by industry, business and site type - for our readers, consumers and other businesses alike.

To register your site, follow the links at http://ecomworld.com.au

We hope you enjoy the April edition of eComWorld, out now. If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for case studies, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at deanne_macintosh@idg.com.au.