E-commerce Security and Payment Systems

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E-commerce Security and Payment Systems

Cyberwar: MAD 2.0

The tools of warfare have evolved over time from sticks and stones, to arrows and spears, to artillery and bombs, and finally nuclear weapons. Physical warfare and weaponry are familiar and readily recognizable. But today, there is also another type of warfare that is becoming increasingly common, a type that is conducted by hidden armies of hackers wielding weaponry that consists of algorithms and computer code. Cyberspace has become a new battlefield, one that often involves nations against other nations, and nations against corporations. There are two kinds of cyberwar targets: hard infrastructure targets, which include defense installations, nuclear facilities, electrical and telecommunications networks, manufacturing plants, and other public infrastructure, and soft targets, such as banks and related financial systems (like brokerages), private firms, public record systems (such as state and federal personnel systems), and health management and insurance record systems.

The objective of cyberwar against hard targets is to cripple the basic physical infrastructure of an industry or even of an entire society. The objective of cyberwar against soft targets is to disrupt and confuse institutions and populations, embarrass and punish agencies and firms, and gather information on individuals and firms to be used later. Cyberwar is different from cyberespionage, which is not intended to produce disruption or cripple basic social services, but rather focuses on gathering information, including intellectual property.

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, cyberwar against soft targets took on a new unexpected dimension: disrupting and influencing the political process using a variety of digital tools. According to a report issued by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, a super-agency created after the September 11, 2001 attacks that aggregates intelligence from 18 separate intelligence agencies, the Russian government and related third parties conducted a comprehensive cyberwar campaign in order to support one candidate (Donald Trump) and weaken the candidacy of the other (Hillary Clinton).

E-commerce Security and Payment Systems

The Russians employed a wide range to tools to support its campaign: hacking into the e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and arranging for these e-mails to be released by WikiLeaks and DCLeaks (a front for a Russian cyberespionage group); using hundreds of Internet trolls to open thousands of fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to create and propagate false news stories; and using the open advertising platforms of Facebook and Twitter to target various demographic groups in order to heighten social tensions between these groups during the campaign. Both Facebook and Twitter initially denied their platforms had been used by the Russians to influence the election but after growing pressure by Congress and the public, Facebook agreed to turn over 6,000 Russian-linked ads to investigators and 470 Russian-linked accounts. The owners of these pretended to be Americans, paid for over $100,000 in ads targeted to millions of U.S Facebook members, and used the accounts to spread inflammatory messages. Twitter likewise was forced to admit that thousands of fake accounts were linked with Russia, and hundreds of related bot accounts were used to spread false stories during the electoral process. Both Twitter and Facebook have a well-recognized problem with fake accounts, which number in the millions. Many of these accounts are bots that automatically send out messages every few seconds, amplifying the impact of fake stories, and in a few cases influence the trending lists of both firms. In 2018, Twitter announced it had removed tens of millions of fake accounts, but still has a long way to go.

There’s nothing new about Russia trying to influence American elections and American efforts to influence the political process in Russia. Since the beginning of the Cold War in the 1940s, if not before, both sides have used intelligence agencies, diplomats, news stories, radio and television ads, and payments to politicians and political advisors in order to influence the political process and achieve their national interests. What was new in the 2016 presidential election was the skillful use of hacking and social networks in an attempt to directly influence the opinions and beliefs of an entire population.

Expert Partial Solution

Identify one dimension of e-commerce security that is particularly relevant to mobile e-commerce? Justify your answer. (2 marks)

In the world of e-commerce, everything involves transmission of data from one party to another online.  However, today the internet is undergoing cyber-attacks and security threats. Recent studies indicate that cybercrime in some major companies like Twitter and Facebook are on the rise. This calls for every e-commerce website to safeguard its assets from unauthorized alteration, access, use or destruction. Confidentiality as one of the six dimensions of...read more


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E-commerce Security and Payment Systems