Musings: Security, something that gives or assures safety

Do you feel secure?

At the very least, everyone on the planet has in some way been compromised or had their sense of security threatened. And we are the lucky ones.

Do you feel that your personal information is secure when you use your credit card?

Our sense of insecurity displays itself in a variety of ways. I know people who are still afraid to use their credit card online. After 9-11, I only wear shoes that I can run in or, if necessary, comfortably walk in for miles. A silly thing maybe, but it makes me feel more secure.

I have been using my credit card to make online purchases for twenty years. And I can tell you with certainty, there is never any guarantee that your information is secure. No more than if you use your credit card in a store or restaurant. Online purchases and in-store purchases often use the same system. Whether you are like me and have safely used your credit card for online purchases doesn't necessarily mean you are safe. It just means you are lucky.

Well, maybe not just lucky. My luck is based on experience and knowledge. I would no more use my credit card with a suspicious vendor on the street than I would to purchase goods from Joe's Cool Stuff website. As of this writing there is not a website known as Joe's Cool Stuff, but I think you get the idea. Use the same common sense that you would online as you would offline.

Now here is the bad news. All the experience and technical expertise in the world are not going to save you from sloppy staff. Nor will it save you from people with malicious intent or level four hurricanes. Stuff happens.

What is disappointing is that most of the identity theft that occurs today is because a corporation with whom we have entrusted our personal information was negligent. And it didn't have to happen.

So I ask you, is your website safe? Are your scripts secure and your data safe from hackers? How do you handle the personal data that your visitors have entrusted to you?

I am not just saying that you should take your responsibility seriously. I am saying that you can. It's not a mystery and with attention to policy, process and your system of choice you have an opportunity to set an example.

Think about all those people who really would like to go online and buy your products, donate to your cause or become a member of your organization. They just want to feel safe about it. Why not chose to be safe.

-Nancy Massey

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