Paying for anything online involves a certain amount of trust. It requires the customer to trust that the website will deliver what it described and the business trusts that the client’s payment method will deliver. Beyond all of this, there is the trust that the important details of the financial transaction will be secure. All of these pieces of trust didn’t just happen overnight. They are part of a chain, a revolutionary chain, that began in the earliest days of the net. That trust and the technology that allows it continues to evolve today with new and more secure online payment systems that encrypt and protect all our financial data.
The Development of Firewalls
One of the first lines of defense for any website is the creation of a firewall between the site and everyone on the web. But while most of us may be aware of the term, what exactly does a firewall do to protect a website and its users? In a nutshell, they recognize and allow only those with permission to pass through to the more protected and personal sides of the website. This is how many of the shopping carts you will see on a website are able to capture credit card information and yet make it difficult for anyone to steal that information from the data server. In fact, it was the development of firewalls that made the very first internet purchase, a pizza from Pizza Hut, possible.
The Netscape Solution
The next layer of security to show up on the net was Netscape’s Secure Socket Layer (SSL) that allowed shoppers, banks and retailers to interact securely by creating an encryption layer to every transaction. This opened up the net to commerce and probably changed it forever. It also allowed websites such as PayPal to exist, still one of the most secure ways to transfer funds from one currency to another.
Google Adds Another Layer
The search engine we all love to hate was the first major player to introduce two-factor authentication. While Personal Identification Numbers or PINs are still the most common way to protect a financial transaction, adding this second layer has become more common. Most of us know them as those ugly little collections of letters and numbers we are asked to use to identify ourselves. Google also uses a two prong security that requires you to have access to your phone connected with an account as well as the web when accessing your account. This extra level of security is now often used for banking transactions.
Of course with the growing popularity of online sales, it was inevitable that new and more complex payment systems would have to be developed. As more and more businesses developed models that included international sales, new ways had to be created to keep those far flung transactions safe. Companies such as the German stalwart AltaPay developed individually tailored systems that worked closely with a companies accounting processes. By developing individual systems that allowed multi-national approaches to financial security, they were able to bridge the gap between national and international business on the web. Today, more than ever, these security systems continue to evolve as business on the web changes as fast as the latest fad.