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Scary Internet

Entry 685, on 2008-01-30 at 21:41:31 (Rating 2, News)

A recent item on a local on-line news site discussed people's perceptions of the security of on-line transactions. The finding of this study was that, as more security options were added to a banking site the user's perception was that the site was less secure. Yes, I said less, not more! I guess the thought was that the need for more security indicated problems with security in the past. The conclusion of the study was that designers should strike a good balance between user friendliness and security. Well, duh!

I know many people who are paranoid about banking, buying, and participating in auctions on-line. Of course, there is a real risk there, but not really any more (and possibly a lot less) than the risk involved in doing any sort of transaction by traditional means. For example, copying credit card details and forging signatures is a common trick when normal credit card transactions are completed.

Its quite normal for people to be concerned about new technology, especially when its something that's difficult to understand for many - yes, computers do belong in this category. Even experienced users like myself suffer occasional security issues but that's no reason to exaggerate the potential risk beyond what it really is.

I have a lot of trouble convincing many people that buying stuff on Internet auction sites is safe and fun. They think they will be ripped off, or have problems understanding the system, but most sites are fairly easy to understand although I think many could do with a tidy up of their user interface.

Another issue is the insistence on working on paper instead of on-screen. I know some people who only read email on paper. They actually print the email, read it, and throw away (or file) the paper. What's that all about?

And recently I heard a very intelligent and perceptive person say that paper would never be replaced with an electronic alternative. Come on, of course it will. Thin, foldable screens are already here and they will soon be much higher resolution and quality than any book. With a wireless connection this electronic paper can display anything on a single sheet! How can that possibly not take over from normal paper?

I'm tempted to hypothesise here that many of the negative experiences people report with computer technology relate back to using the wrong software. In general they use Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer which almost guarantees a bad experience. Maybe that's why surveys often show Mac users do more on-line than their PC counterparts. Of course, I might be just showing my pro-Mac bias here but I think there's a certain amount of truth in my theory as well.

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