16 October 2000
B. Wright is the Editor in Chief of OS/2 eZine, a title he tried to duck for
many months with little success. When he's not working on OS/2 eZine (what? he's
not supposed to have any other jobs!) he works on his web comic strip, Help
If you have a comment about the content
of this article, please feel free to vent in the OS/2
eZine discussion forums.
The Dangers of e-Commerce
I don't want anyone to think that
I'm afraid of technology, or that I think it's evil, or anything like that. In fact,
my view is quite the opposite: technology is good. The Internet is a good thing,
a fun thing. However, it's important to keep in mind that technology is a double
edged sword, and that it can be used to harm as well as to help and entertain.
That's why I want everyone to take
this article as a warning, but also as a sign that things aren't necessarily as
bad as people think.
I recently received a call from my
bank about my credit card. It appears that someone managed to get ahold of my credit
card number and a lot of personal information, and mangaed to make more than a few
charges to a few web sites -- an... ahem... "adult" site, an e-commerce
site, and a staggeringly high sum to what appeared to MCI's WorldCom site (I'm not
sure what for).
The staggeringly high sum ($4200
US) is what clued my bank into the problem. They called me, rejected the charge,
and cancelled my credit card account. The e-commerce site had already flagged the
charge on their site, and contacted my bank about that. As for the adult site, it
managed to sneak through undetected, so some cracker or script kiddie is now enjoying
what I assume is a month of service at some porn site at my expense.
All it all, it could have been much,
The thing that really bugs me is
that while this bastard no longer has access to that credit card, this bastard still
has my name and address. It's a little frightening, but I have to say that I'm impressed
that my bank and the e-commerce site were so on the ball about this.
As OS/2 users, we practically depend
on the internet to ensure that we can get the software we need. This means we all
probably use credit cards, and in the process we run the risk of our credit cards
being picked up by people who like to make purchases at our expense. OS/2 users:
be careful out there. OS/2 vendors: make sure you're using and storing our information
Mind you, I'm not saying they got
my information from an OS/2 site. It's equally likely, probably even more
likely, that the information was picked up from a larger, more well-known site.
But the more we rely on e-commerce, the more we need to make sure that we use it
safely. Customers depend on the vigilance of vendors to keep their data safe. The
business model won't work unless customers feel like they can trust the people they're
At any rate, that was an adventure.
Have any of you ever experienced this? I'd sure like to know...