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Part IV: Ground Zero: Securing Your PC A... > Securing Your Internet Transactions ...

Chapter 9. Securing Your Internet Transactions with SSL and Digital Certificates

Fear still keeps many people from making a purchase online. The fear might be that their credit card information will be stolen or their shopping habits will be monitored. The problem is that the fear is real. The explosive growth of the Internet over the past 10 years has created widespread dependence on communication protocols, which were not developed for privacy and security. The communication protocols of the Internet, known as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), were designed to allow computers to share information, not hide it from each other. TCP/IP can basically be thought of as the language of the Internet. Whereas people in the U.S. speak English, computers on the Internet speak TCP/IP.

TCP/IP makes the World Wide Web possible. It enables us to send e-mail, surf Web pages, and chat on instant messengers. Because all these types of Internet communications depend on TCP/IP to operate, they all suffer from its inherent problems. Computers talk to each other (using TCP/IP) across the Internet much like people talk across phone lines. Anybody can put a wiretap on your telephone and listen to your conversations, just like anybody can intercept your computer transmissions (e-mail, Web surfing, and chats) and read them. The thing is, people can do even more malicious things with computers. Not only can they eavesdrop on you, but they also can change the information that you send and receive, appear as trusted parties to you (a trusted Web site or trusted e-mail), and even impersonate your identity. Although these risks and fears are valid, means are available to minimize them.


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