Research Papers
Consumer Payments over Open Computer Networks
March 1996 Number 9603

Authors: John Wenninger and Daniel Orlow

The increasing prospects for large volumes of commerce taking place over open computer networks has created considerable interest in the security and technology of open computer network commerce. In this paper, we explain how the basic encryption technology for sending secure messages works, and how this technology can be used to create electronic payment instruments, including cash, credit card, and check payments. We also review briefly the necessary elements required to support encryption technology: (1) a certification authority, (2) mathematical complexity of the encryption formulas, (3) system design. We conclude that security for making payments must be dynamic in nature as additional technological advances are likely to make electronic payment instruments vulnerable to more sophisticated attacks.

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