Do we need security standards on the web?

Information is stolen on a daily basis, even from large corporations. Many websites collect data that they can't protect well. As a result, it's exposed to the outside world through hacker attacks or data sharing between companies without the knowing of their customers. If that's not possible, data can still be bought—the access to user's data has never been easier.

Importance

Security has become one of the main concerns of websites and apps. It can make the difference if a product gets accepted or rejected in the marketplace. The chip producer Intel recently acquired McAffee to increase their level of protection. McAffee was a software company which had almost nothing to do with hardware, which shows again the importance of security today. In an increasingly connected world, this move is probably justified.

Cat and mouse

Part of the development of server-side programming languages has to deal with security issues. As hackers get better, so must also the tools that protect from them. This is the never-ending chase between cat and mouse. As more protection methods are introduced, ambiguity results, which can again be used by hackers to conquer more systems. The lack of security standards becomes then apparent.

Standards

Andrew Tanenbaum, an American computer scientist, said that "the nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from". He is right, because this variety increases the uncertainty and likelihood for failure. Something must be done, so that uniform guidelines exist on how to protect information effectively from unauthorized access. Otherwise we'll keep hearing that the user's data has been stolen here and there. People will avoid data sharing and as a whole the user experience will suffer. Or they might even avoid using the web altogether.

Other people's problems can become our problems too. If our system hasn't been hacked so far, it can be only a matter of time. Only a collective solution can help to protect against this recurring problem. If we remember the phrase "Develop the branch, not the company", we'll see why cooperation can be good for everyone. The British economist David Ricardo has similarly proven that a trade between well-developed and developing countries is beneficial for both sides.

The danger

Every website or application relies heavily on data today. We can't pretend that nothing happens, when this information is stolen. Or pay "excuse checks" to customers who have been affected. We can avoid storing sensitive information at all if we define clearly what "sensitive" means. If we decide to store the data, we need to take security precautions. The more important the data we store, the more effective should be its protection.

Security is an integral part of every website or application because it affects the user interaction. If people feel that their data isn't securely stored or the website isn't robust enough, they will leave the it permanently. Web designers must ensure that they care about every aspect of their designs, especially about security.

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