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Visa to demand e-tailers install basic security systems

You mean e-merchants don't have this stuff already?!?

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Visa, the global credit card organisation, is so worried about online fraud it yesterday warned members and merchants they may be fined if they don't get their security provisions up to scratch.

A call to tighten already strong security measures, you might think. But no, Visa USA risk management senior VP John Shaughnessy's unveiling of a ten-point list of security requirement amounts to stating the bleedin' obvious - so much so that you wonder what the heck some e-commerce companies must be thinking.

So, Visa will shortly demand that all its merchants install a firewall, the implication clearly being that rather a lot of them don't have one, allowing anyone canny enough to access and tinker with their system.

Other Visa requirements: merchants must not use vendor-supplied default passwords; they must test their security procedures; they should encrypt data sent across the Internet or accessible from it; the need to install, use and regularly update anti-virus software.

So basic are these requirements, you would have thought Visa - and its fellow card companies, for that matter - ought to have been insisting on them from the word go. It's also worrying that Visa's ten-point plan, which will be unveiled in detail next week, will be rolled out over a year. If e-commerce security is as bad as Visa reckons, surely it should be forcing the issue?

"If you're a merchant, this is stuff you want to do," Shaughnessy said. "It's just good business. It's as simple as that."

No, John, "this stuff" is essential.

Shaughnessy, speaking yesterday at a conference on cybercrime and cited by Reuters, said Visa is considering fines, restrictions on the amount of transactions a merchant can make and even throwing offenders off the Visa network.

Hopefully, when the security requirements are detailed, the enforcement measures will be as tough as - if not tougher - than Shaughnessy suggested. They'll have to be if the credit card companies don't want consumer confidence in e-commerce to be dented even further than it has following Barclay's infamous screw-up of last month, and the raft of glitches at other sites. ®

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