e-Commerce turns 10

Posted by joy


From CNET

Few remember or have ever even heard of the Web retailer, but on Aug. 11, 1994, the college grads that founded NetMarket in Nashua, N.H., claimed they had conducted the very first secure retail transaction on the Web.

They said the first item purchased via a Web site protected by commercially available data encryption technology was the CD “Ten Summoner’s Tales” by Sting, according to former NetMarket founder Daniel Kohn.

Web retailing began to flourish the following year, when Netscape (now a division of Time Warner) came out with a version of its Web browser that incorporated the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security protocol, Kohn said. SSL creates a connection between a desktop computer, or client, and a server, over which data can be sent securely. The most recognizable sign of SSL at work are Web addresses that begin with “https:” rather than the more familiar “http:” designation.

While 10 years of fine-tuning the technology have made e-commerce easier, data security remains a concern for online shoppers and merchants. Though SSL is nearly impossible to break, hackers have found other ways to attack, using computer viruses, “phishing” and other tricks.

Despite the threats, most people are more comfortable than ever with shopping online, said Darin Sennett, director of design and technology, at Powell’s City of Books. The Portland, Oregon, book store has been taking orders online for nearly 10 years and has been largely unaffected by such attacks, he said.


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