After enjoying phenomenal growth in its first 10 years, Internet
commerce faces new challenges amid growing fears of viruses, spyware
and a range of fraud schemes.
The e-commerce revolution led by companies like eBay and Amazon.com,
both created a decade ago, has made the Internet a permanent part of
the world of commerce.
But even as more consumers join the rush, many are growing fearful
about maintaining their privacy, protecting their personal data and
the potential of falling victim to nefarious elements in cyberspace.
A survey of US Web users by the Pew Internet and American Life Project
released this month shows 91 percent have changed the way they behave
online as they try to avoid these problems.
Among the other findings of the survey: 81 percent said they stopped
opening e-mail attachments unless they are sure these documents are
safe; 48 percent have stopped visiting sites that they fear might
deposit unwanted programs on their computers; and 25 percent have
stopped downloading music or video files from peer-to-peer networks to
avoid things like spyware.
A separate Conference Board survey last month showed more than half of
online consumers say their level of concern has grown over the past
year and many have changed the way they use the Internet, with some
scaling back online purchases.
Nearly 70 percent of online users have installed additional security
software on their PCs, and 54 percent now "opt out" of special offers;
41 percent are purchasing less online, the survey by the business
research firm showed.
The research firm Gartner, in its poll of 5,000 US adults, showed
growing concerns about "phishing," in which fake e-mails are disguised
to look like legitimate requests from banks or credit cards firms, a
technique used in identity theft schemes.
In the 12 months to May 2005, an estimated 73 million US adults who
use the Internet said they received an average of more than 50
phishing e-mails in the past year, Gartner said. That was up 28
percent from a prior survey.
Also, some 2.4 million online consumers reported losing money directly
because of the phishing attacks, although most said this was repaid by
banks or credit card issuers, the Gartner survey indicated.
Online retail sales in the US market, the world's most developed,
amounted to 141.4 billion dollars in 2004, according to the National
Retail Federation. Some forecasts see that figure hitting 331 billion
dollars by 2010.
Globally, eBay alone is expected to have sales of more than 40 billion
dollars this year, up by a third over last year.
But Gartner estimates that US banks and credit card issuers lost about
1.2 billion dollars last year to phishing schemes. And analysts say
the high-tech community needs some kind of system of authenticating
e-mail to ensure that an e-mail actually comes from the person who's
purporting to send it.
"Companies need to take steps quickly to beef up online security,"
said Avivah Litan, vice president and research director at Gartner.
"We are seeing unprecedented levels in consumer transactions
online. Yet businesses cannot rely on the Internet to lower costs and
improve marketing efforts indefinitely if consumer trust continues to
Pew found 93 million US Internet users, or 68 percent, cited computer
trouble in the past year that is consistent with problems caused by
spyware and viruses, although 60 percent were not sure where the
One in four said they found new programs on their computers that they
did not install or new icons that seemed to come out of nowhere, with
one in five saying their starting point, or home page, had
"These survey results show that as Internet users gain experience with
spyware and adware, they are more likely to say they are changing
their behavior," said Pew's Susannah Fox.
"But what is more alarming is the larger universe of people who have
struggled with mysterious computer problems, but have no idea
why. Internet users are increasingly frustrated and frightened that
they are not in charge of their Internet experience."
Copyright 2005 Agence France Presse.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
*** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. This Internet discussion group is making it available without
profit to group members who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information in their efforts to advance the
understanding of literary, educational, political, and economic
issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes only. I
believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material
as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish
to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go
beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright
owner, in this instance, Agence France Presse.
For more information go to:
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Any of you who live in large
metropolitan areas have probably seen your 'downtown' area change
dramatically -- for the worse -- in the past thirty or forty years.
In Chicago, for example, what was once a vibrant area with more than a
dozen movie theatres, about the same number of department stores, the
symphony, several legitimate theatres and any number of wonderful
restaurants has deteriorated very badly, as people grew afraid to go
to the downtown area at night; fears of pickpockets, assaults by bums
in general, very poor transit many times, etc made it just no longer a
pleasant experience. In downtown Chicago, State and Madison Streets
are mostly deserted at night. Very few restaurants open at night, few
or no public restrooms, etc. Unlike Chicago or many other cities where
it took thirty or forty years of decay and political corruption to
reach the stage things are in, on the net it has only taken around
10 years to reach the point that many users are 'afraid to go out at
In large cities, a process called 'gentrification' has been going on
which attempts to restore some of the glory and granduer to the
business district and residential areas. People complain a lot about
gentrification, claiming it has the effect of 'pricing people out of
the neighborhood'. In order to pay for the 'gentrification', or
improvements, the prices have to go _way_ up of course, and the 'bums'
or poor people cannot afford to live there any longer. My brother, for
example, mentioned that condominiums (which is basically all there is
to live in in Chicago, if you want a decent place these days) have
outrageous price tags attached to them. Object: price the bums out of
the neighborhood. A group of the 'new settlers' in an area called
'South Loop' (immediatly south of the downtown area in Chicago, along
South State Street and Congress Parkway) has been moaning and carrying-on
about the Pacific Garden Mission as one example. PGM has been there in
that same spot for 135 years doing whatever it does ... the 'new settlers'
in South Loop arrived maybe five years ago; and _they_ think PGM
should be forced out ('those bums are ruining our neighborhood', etc).
Well, I digress, just a little, but I see the very same thing
happening in our 'village', the internet. God only knows decay has set
in very badly on the net; crime is _so_ rampant, we probably need some
'gentrification', and I think ICANN knows that to be the case (just
like Mayor Daley runs Chicago, ICANN in essence 'runs the net'). Just
as politics and corruption dictate Mayor Daley's posture on things,
politics dictates ICANN's posture as well. I doubt we will see any
real changes -- any 'gentrification' if you will -- on the net for at
least a few years until the crime -- i.e. scams and spams and viruses
and other nuisances have gotten to be _so bad_ that all of the
oldtime,' original settlers of this village have thrown up their hands
in disgust and walked away.
When it has gotten to the point that there is no one left here at all
from the old days, and the net is just one .com after another, one
E-Bay located next to an Amazon, then a couple of sex movie houses,
etc and everyone else knows the minute they plug in the cable/DSL to
the back of their computer one or more viruses or spy-cookies is going
to slip in and there are jillions of computers gathering dust in the
closet next to the CB radios, then and only then will Vint Cerf and
the others at ICANN decide to get down to business. What Vint _wanted_
to do back in 1994, along with Al Gore, of inventing the internet as a
business proposition only will happen by default. All of the original
settlers of 'internet village' will have gone away and then watch: all
the lame excuses for why spam and scam cannot be controlled (and you
have heard them all, same as me; just ask a couple of the more vocal
users here about how we cannot dictate to other sites, we cannot do X
because spammers will retaliate with Y, etc) -- all those excuses will
vanish and the transition from friendly place with decent users to
strictly big-business concerns will be complete. If I have been
threatened once with having _my_ own interconnectivity cut off if I
resorted to certain self-help spam fighting techinqes, I have been
threatened a dozen times. I wish some of these fools _would_ just cut
me off ... so they could get down to the business of making over the
net in Vint Cerf's image. PAT]