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Web security still worries consumers
as market for online security products moves forward

Several new products protect intranets, e-mail, and transactions

By Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service

January  1997
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New York -- Just as department stores need guards and video-monitoring equipment, Internet communications and commerce require firewalls, encryption devices, and monitoring of downloadable applications.

Whether people are more likely to be victims of fraud by punching in credit card numbers into a PC or sending out e-mail, rather than speaking credit card numbers aloud to someone on the phone or mailing a letter, is debatable. But there is a perception of lack of security online.

For example, while 62 percent of consumers believe that the telephone is "safe and secure," only 28 percent believe that the World Wide Web and online services are, according to a poll commissioned by AT&T and carried out by Odyssey, a research firm in San Francisco. This could account for the fact that while 39 percent of the 2,003 consumers polled said they expect to make an online purchase next year, 58 percent said they would purchase goods by phone.

"There are two ways to look at the equation -- for people who have made purchases online, they perceive it to be as reliable, comparably, to anything else," said Michael Coates, a spokesman for Virtual Vineyards in Palo Alto, CA. More than 90 percent of consumers who purchase food and wine products listed at the Virtual Vineyards Web site do so by typing in credit card numbers online rather than using the 800 number listed on the site, Coated pointed out. "But for those people not used to the Internet, security is an impediment."

To enhance security, Virtual Vineyards will incorporate the Verisign authentication-certificate software into its site, based on Silicon Graphics Inc. servers.

Security is also a major issue for consumers who would like to do banking by PC, network administrators who need to protect intranets from intruders on the Internet, and users who want to make sure e-mail can be read only by the intended recipient.


Emerging products
For network managers or end users shopping around for security products to protect intranets, e-mail, or transactions, there is a growing market of products. Some products coming on to the market now include:

--Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service, New York Bureau

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