There are both advantages and disadvantages to providing an overly secure environment for e-commerce. The biggest advantage is consumer and business privacy. Grandma’s Treats needs to provide a secure environment so that unauthorized users are unable to see details of the consumer’s transactions, and purchases in particular. In this way consumers using Grandma’s Treats website will know they can make multiple purchases using their stored information and retain a sense of security regarding their transactions.
To ensure this privacy for the consumer, encryption software installed on the server is necessary. A further advantage to a secure environment is consumer trust. When customers decide to make a purchase using their account with a password, they can trust that the security standards of the company are up to par with other, larger organizations. This type of secure environment would work best at serving the needs of wholesale and corporate accounts.
A disadvantage of providing an overly secure e-commerce environment is if the company decides to use public key infrastructure, or PKI (Brayton, Finneman, Turajski, Wiltsey, 2006). In this instance, Grandma’s Treats would only be able to transmit a small amount of information. A second disadvantage to this overly secure environment is if Grandma’s Treats requires a user to log in to view its offerings, it may be considered an annoyance and a hindrance to purchasing. A final disadvantage is that this technology tends to slow down customer service. The time required to check out the online shopping cart will necessitate verification, which will make the purchasing process longer. Should this take too long, a customer may decide to log off and leave the website without finalizing a purchase.
There are also advantages and disadvantages to providing an open, insecure e-commerce environment. Some advantages of setting up an open, insecure environment are quick browsing of products, easy navigation of the website, and the inexpensive cost of implementing it. To browse through the website of Grandma’s Treats, a customer wouldn’t first have to login and use a password. Consumers will also have the option of browsing through the offered products with ease. Providing an open, insecure environment is also an inexpensive option. The company will not need any specialized hardware or software to ensure security in its e-commerce environment.
There are several disadvantages of setting up an open, insecure environment as well. The threat of hackers breaking into the server, and malware infecting the site, are two disadvantages of not providing proper security (CNET News.com Staff, 2008). An experienced hacker could easily gain access to customer information, financial transactions, and any other important information stored on the server. A variety of malware could cause a major problem for Grandma’s Treats and its website with the likely outcome of a system crash or possible infection of customers’ computers. While the damage could most likely be reversed, it would take time to repair and create distrust with the company’s customers.
In light of these advantages and disadvantages as discussed, it is recommended that Grandma’s Treats employs a more middle of the road option. For certain purposes, such as making a purchase online, there should be security measures in place, such as requiring a customer to create an account and log in with a password. However, there should also be a selection of “front end” pages which are easily accessible to anyone browsing products. In this way Grandma’s Treats can best serve the needs of both valued customers and casual web browsers.
Brayton, J., Finneman, A., Turajski, N., Wiltsey, S., (October 10, 2006). “What is PKI?” Retrieved March 4, 2008, from the TechTarget Website: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid14_gci214299,00.html
CNET News.com Staff (February 11, 2008). “Security Bites Podcast: Nonpersistent Web Threats”. Retrieved March 4, 2008 from the CNET News.com Website: http://www.news.com/Security-Bites-Podcast-Nonpersistent-Web-threats/2324-12640_3-6230144.html?tag=item.