e-Commerce

History of e-Commerce

The history of e-Commerce started to develop in several stages the first one is the development of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI is has been developed in the 1960’s so businesses can exchange information and do electronic transactions, because there was lots of different EDI formats companies were not able to interact with each other.

The next development in e-Commerce happened in 1992 when the Mosaic web-browser was made available.

The developments of e-Commerce started grow when the DSL was developed. The DSL provided quicker internet connections which promoted people to spend more time and money online.

The other major development of e-Commerce was on 1998 when AOL had a sale of 1.2 billion from online sales.

Today the largest e-Commerce is business to business which simply mean when businesses sell their goods to other businesses.

Social implication for businesses

There are loads of social implication in businesses happened during the development of e-commerce. Now days most of the companies sell their products and goods online which mean people don’t need to go out and do their shopping they just can do it over the internet.

The IT jobs has increased and the other job has decreased such as sales assistant, that shows jobs shifts has changed now days and most of the companies need to be working 24/7 that mean they need to employ people for different shits. People now days can work at home for example programmers can make programs at home and pass it down to their company. Companies can sell their products and goods world wide.

The products and goods those for sale on the internet are much cheaper than the products in the shops. Bigger supermarket such as Tesco, Asada and Aldi etc has opened new branches in high populated areas. Smaller shops are much expensive then the bigger ones.

Crimes have increased because of the internet. People find it easier to steel a company through the computers rather than go to the actual company and break into it. In 2000 four of the biggest e-Commerce companies have been hacked which they are yahoo, eBay, Amazon and buy.com

Social implication for customers

Old and disabled people don’t need to worry about who is going to do their shopping for them or who will take them out to do by them self because now days they can do all of their shopping online and it will be delivered to their door steps.

Plenty of people don’t buy music, films etc they just download them illegally of the internet with paying a penny.

People get more time to spend with their family and do other things if they do their shopping online.

Because people spend lots of time on the internet they are actually encouraged to view porno websites.

Promoting and marketing an e-Commerce website

Once an organisation has built its website, they will need to make sure that people know about it. There are enormous ways of promoting and marketing your website. These ways differ from one to another for example an e-Commerce organisation can advertise their website using the old methods such as advertising with radios, newspapers, magazines, TV, flyers or leaflets. However they can use the internet to advertise their website and there are different ways.

Non technical ways for promoting an e-Commerce website

If the organisation wants to target a local audience and inform them about the existence of their website then, they can do that by create a leaflet, flyers or place an advert on the radio. These ways actually doesn’t cost lots of money so it will be good idea for the organisation to use these methods to start telling people about their site.

If the organisation wants to target more audience then they can place advert on Television or newspaper. Placing advert on TV usually cost a lot of money but the chance of people who is going to see it is more then the others.

Technical ways for promoting an e-Commerce website

Organisation can promote their website in varies ways. They can negotiate with another e-Commerce company and ask them if they can leave their website link on the other company website. The company will need to choose a well known company because lots of people will be accessing it.

Another way for the organisation to promote its website is by banner advertising. This is usually done by creating a graphic usually animated and placed on a different; this graphic is linked so once a user click on it, it takes them to the organisation website.

The organisation can create pop ups and place them on certain well known website so each time a user access that particular website the pop ups will appear. If the user has can click on it, it will take them to the organisation website.

As the organisation website is new, the search engine will not know about it, even if they did it will be right at the bottom of the search and the users wont bother going through all of the pages to locate the organisation website. Having said that, the organisation can tell the search engines about the existence of their website but still it could be right at the bottom when users perform a search.

If the organisation wants their website to appear at the top of the page, when a user performs a search then the organisation will need to pay the search engines company for that. By paying the search engine, the organisation website will be placed on the first page when users performs a search and no matter how many pages they click through the organisation website will be placed at the top.

Meta Tags are HTML codes which the creator place on the website that he creates. The users wont necessary seem but all what Meta Tags do is identify key words.

This is an example of Meta Tags used for PC World website:-

<html>
<head>
<meta name="keywords" content="PC World, pcworld, uk, pcwold, pcw, pcwb, stores, shops, computer, desktops, desktop pc, pcs, pc, laptops, laptop, printers, games, software, cameras, digital, computers, mp3, tv, television, pdas, networking, routers, ipod, ipods, hp, canon, sony, epson, apple, gps, satnav, sat nav, monitors, tft, lcd, ps2, xbox 360, psp, computers, p c, europe, tomtom, philips, toshiba, dixons, currys, dsg, shop, store, pcw, pcw.co.uk, cheap, latest, cheapest, digital, camera, ps3, wii, nintendo, microsoft, vista, xp, media, technology, pcworld.com, pcword, pc word, pc worls, opening times, business, store locator" />
<meta name="description" content="PC World Computer Superstore - Cheap prices on PC and Apple computers including Desktop PCs, Laptops, Printers, Computer Software, Games, Mp3 players, TFT Monitors, Digital Cameras, Sat Nav, Data Storage, LCD TVs and more. Visit a PC World shop today!" />
<title>PC World UK Computer Superstore - Buy cheap computers, laptops, desktop PCs, printers, LCD TVs, sat nav, digi

Key words are important; they could be taken from the titles or text within the website. Having said that, the organisation can give the search engine certain words so when users perform a search it will match these particular words.

Web bots are software which are run by search engine companies. Its purpose is to look for different website on the internet, it recognise updated website and it looks at the titles or words form the text within the website this information is used to update the search engine indexes.

Another way which organisations can use to promote their e-Commerce website is by taking part in a newsgroup or forums. There are lots of places where people can hold discussions online. These newsgroups or forums might be talking about the organisation speciality. The organisation can participate in these newsgroup or forums to tell people about their business and they can place a link to their website.

The organisation can use the email facility to advertise their products and services to people. The can send emails to people telling them about their website and an over view about their business.

The organisation will need to come up with a good website address URL. The organisation would need to investigate and try coming up with a website address that will be easy simple for the users to keep in their mind. The company would not want to come up with a complicated site address because users will forget it.

For the company to expand and attract more customers they will need their customers’ feedback so the company will need to place questions for people who visit it the website such as how did you hear about the website? By doing that the company will know which method of advertising did work the best.

Types of Servers

What is a server?

A server is a type of computer on a network that manages network resources. Servers are often dedicated to perform a certain tasks, which mean that they perform no other tasks besides their server tasks.

Platforms servers

A platform server is a mixture of hardware and software and its job is to make sure that your website can be accessed.

Application servers

Application servers provide access to business programs by clients and deliver application services such as webpage that are stored on a database.

Audio/Video servers

Audio/video servers allow you to broadcast streaming multimedia content.

Chat servers

Chat servers make it possible for users to exchange information.

Fax servers

A fax server is dedicated to fax documents. Organisations that prefer to fax the document will benefits from it.

FTP servers

File Transfer Protocol servers make it possible for users to download files securely.

List servers

List servers manages mailing lists, these can be discussions open to the public or one way list.

Mail servers

Mail servers’ move and store mail over business networks via LANs and WANs also across the internet.

News servers

News servers are the source of distribution and delivering news for thousand of public.

Proxy servers

Proxy servers control what’s going in and out. It blocks users from accessing inappropriate websites such as porno sites. If users keep accessing a particular website a lot a proxy servers keeps a record of that site so each time users access that website, the proxy server doesn’t need to send a request to where the website is based, having said that the proxy servers updates that website regularly.

Telent servers

Telnet servers allow users to work on a host computer and carry out tasks as if they are working on the remote computer itself.

Web servers

Web servers deliver web pages from a disk and serving it to user’s web browser.

Hardware and software needed view an e-Commerce website from the customer aspect

For a customer to view an e-Commerce website it’s crucial for him/her to have the necessarily hardware and software otherwise it will be very difficult for him/her to view it.

The customer will defiantly need to have a computer with its essential components such as monitor, keyboard, mouse etc. It will be a good idea if the user has a fast and reliable computer with high resolution graphic card so they can view images and videos in good quality also they will be able to navigate quicker. The computer will need to have an operating system so the customer can interact with the website because without the operating system the computer will be useless. The customers can also use one of these hardware’s to view the website mobile phones, PDA, Games consuls and TV/cable.

It is essential for the user to have internet access otherwise they won’t be able to view the website so they will need to have an internet connection which they need first to register with one of the internet service providers companies. In terms of the hardware they will need to have a modem which will allow them to connect to the internet using the telecommunication line, but if the user wants to go wireless he/she will need to have a wireless router which will allow him/her to connect to the internet without any worries about wires. There are two types of internet connection which they are broadband/ADSL and Dial up most people now days don’t use the Dial up because it’s too slow and when they connect to the internet they have to disconnect their phone, that mean they wont be able to use their telephone while surfing the internet.

The customer will need an internet browser to view the website; there are different types of browsers such Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Netscape etc.

The user might need some additional hardware such as speakers if they haven’t got them built in already on their computer so they can hear any sound on the website.

The customer might need software that will allow them to view any flash that the company have placed on their website.

Hardware and software need to create an e-Commerce website also the security issue.

For an organisation to create an e-Commerce website they will need to find an appropriate hosting company so they can host their website, having said that, that doesn’t mean that they can’t host their website by themselves but they will need to take into account the software and hardware needed to create an e-Commerce website they also need to consider the security issues that might arise and how they will protect their website and their customers data.

Hardware

To create an e-Commerce website the company will need to have a good server with large storage hard drive, fast RAM and they need to have a good graphic card so they can have a better view of images and videos etc that they are viewing.

But if the organisation decided to host their website with a third party company they won’t need to have a server because a good computer will be good enough for just creating the website.

Software

To create an e-Commerce website the company will need to have all of the necessary software because they have to create a secured and attractive website for their customer to view.

The company will definitely need software that will allow them to create the actual webpage of their website such as Microsoft FrontPage and Dreamweaver. This software actually allows the user to convert any information that they have put on their website and any picture, video clips or animation into HTML codes. The person who will create the website for the company don’t need to know these HTML code because these software will actually convert anything that he place on the webpage into HTML code automatically having said that nothing will stop him from creating the website by just inputting the HTML codes if he know them.

This company will need additional software such as Java, java script and Visual Basic so they can add more features such as allowing customer to view the database also make their website look more eyes catching.

To make their website more appealing to customers the company will need to have software such as Photoshop, Photo Impact and CorelDraw etc which will allow them to either create their own graphic or manipulate existing photos so they can place them on their site.

The company will need one of the browsing software such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox and Netscape so they can preview their website each time their add something new on it and to allow them access other websites.

The company will need to have software such as Flash, Macromedia Fireworks and shockwave which will allow them to either create their own animations or edit animations that already been created or to allow visitors to interact with the animation on the website.

If the company decided to have video clips on their e-Commerce website then they will need software such Windows Movie Maker, Movie Plus and SopCast etc, these software are useful for create video clips or editing them.

The company will need the ASP software which stands for Active Server Page if they want their website to interact with other websites and deal with specific transactions. For example the company can use the ASP to help them get today’s currency exchange from a different website on their website.

Host

If the company has decided to host their e-Commerce website with a third party company, then they will need to search for one that will offer them security for their website and other facilities such as database and record customer hits, the company will need to make sure that the hosing company server can handle a number of customers accessing their website.

The company will need to make sure that the hosting company will provide good security for the website also they will provide reasonable storage space for the company to publish their website.

Because hosting companies usually have different hosting packages the company will need to choose the right package that will suit them that include the package price. Once the company has found their preferred hosting company, they will have to register with them and buy that package.

If the company has decided to host their website by themselves then they will need the necessary hardware as stated above under the hardware section. The company will need to make sure that their website is updated regularly so each time a customer visit the website they will find updated and reliable information.

The company will need to have a strong server with a fast internet connection that will handle thousands of customers accessing the website at anytime.

The company will need to have their own IP address for their server. The IP is a unique number which will allow the computer to be identified to the rest of the internet. The company can’t create their individuals IP address but they have to register with an internet provider such as BT and Tiscali etc and they will issue them with an IP address.

The company also need a domain name which is the text that comes after the www. This will allow the company website to be located on the internet, these domain names usually comes with different extensions based on whether the domain belongs such as .com .gov .org etc.

Networking

There are different methods of internet connection where both the customer and the company can use to connect to the internet. The first one is the Dial up, it is the most basic and common internet connectivity, the highest speed that you could get with Dial up is up to 56 Kbps. Dial up connection is only suitable for light internet users who would use internet to just view text or just send email but when it comes to accessing graphic or downloading files Dial up is slow for that.

The second connectivity is ISDN which provide 128 Kbps of speed which is quite faster than the Dial up. If Broadband or cable connectivity is not available in your area, it will be a good option to go for ISDN. It is always a good idea before you attempt to buy a router to refer to your phone company and see if they offer the ISDN in your area.

The third connectivity is Broadband. DSL is a type of Broadband which offers a high speed of internet connection. DSL is much faster than the Dial up and ISDN connection. The DSL usually is not available in all areas so check for the DSL availability in your area before buying any routers. DSL is a great option for small businesses who want a faster internet access. ADSL is another type of broadband which provide up to 8 Mbps of speed. ADSL is perfect for Web access because it’s fast when downloading large files. While you are surfing the net with ADSL you don’t have to discount your phone line as you will need for Dial up.

The fourth connectivity is modem cable, it actually provide a high speed of internet connection. But the downside of it is that it’s shared which means as more people in your area use it, the speed of each individual will decrease.

Signals that are used for data transmission are digital and analogue. Digital is a set of 0’s and 1’s this type is mainly suitable for computers to use. Analogue transfer data as wave signals usually the phone line and the sound speakers uses analogue signals.

To convert data that has been sent as digital to analogue or the other way round you will need a modem. The modems are use to convert digital signals from the computer into analogue so it can get sent through the phone line then it actually do the same for analogue signals.

Protocols are the main thing that allows internet possible, which they are standard; set of rules that computer use to communicate with each other. These are examples of protocols:-
FTP – stands for File Transfer Protocol which actually used to transfer data from one computer to another over the internet or through a network.

TCP/IP – stands for Transmission Control Protocol and the IP stands for Internet Protocol which is responsible for arranging the data to be sent to the other end. It use packet to break data so it can be sent if it’s a large file.

DNS – stands for Domain Name system which converts web addresses to an IP address so it goes to the right place.

HTTP – stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol which is a communication protocol that is used to transfer information on the intranet and the World Wide Web.

Security for customers

The customer will need to have some sort of protection on their computer while they go online, they will need to have virus protection software and spyware software. They need to make sure to run a scan in a regular basis and update them as well. They also need to put their computers Firewall on at all time.

If a customer intends to input data to the website that they are purchasing from, they need to take into account the security issues and they need to make sure that the website is secured by SSL and it has been verified by an external agency. Once they have done that they can input their data without worry.

Security for organisation

The internet has grown rapidly over the last couple of years and as more and more organisations started to do their business over the internet, lots of security issues has raised.

The use of the internet means that your internal IT and e-Commerce system are potentially accessible by anyone no matter where he/she is in the world as long as they have the facility to access the internet. Having said that, any organisation who uses or they intend to use e-Commerce as a way to either sell their products or service, need to take security issues into account and they should provide themselves with the necessary protection and they need to use the facilities that are available or come up with new ones, which will help them to overcome this matter.

One of the biggest security issues is hackers, they are common threat to e-Commerce organisations and they can cause the following threats to e-Commerce systems:-

• Hackers can carry out denial of service (DoS) attacks, which actually stop authorised users to access website, so that the site is forced to offer a reduced level of services or, in some cases stop functioning completely.
• Hackers can access sensitive data such as price lists, catalogues and altering, destroying or copying it.
• Hackers can change the organisation website, in this matter they can damage the website contents such as images or direct the organisation customers to another site or they even can replace the website with pornography and offensive messages etc.
• Hackers can use viruses to corrupt organisations business data.

The organisation network can be a way for hackers to access the company’s website or database and not only hackers who can do that an employee or an ex-employee can do the same damage if they can login to the system.

The damage that a hacker can leave is huge not only to the website but to the organisation reputation because if people has discovered that organisation website has been hacked they won’t trust to use the website again in the future that means it will be an end for that organisation because they will lose sales and the confidence of their customers.

Other security issues can be:-

Transferring sensitive data

Customers will need to be assured when they transfer any data such as their name, address and credit card details to a website that it’s going to be safe and secured.

Weak login forms vulnerability

Most organisations have a login form for its customers to send their data through. An attacker can carry out an attack to the organisation website through the login forms, which will use a proxy or script on shared server to hide their self.

Data leakage vulnerability

The organisation database structure can often be seen in the URL of web pages. A hacker can use the company URL to pull out information about their database.

SQL Injection Attack

Hackers can use Structure Query Language injection attack to attack any e-Commerce website and actually perform a query within the company database to gather the information that they are after. Now because this database might contain lots of data about either customers or product prices etc, it will be targeted by hackers who wants either to steal customers details or alters the products prices.

Spam Relaying and Harvesting

If organisation keeps their customers email addresses and a hacker has managed to get his/her hand on them, he/she can send anonymous messages to these people.

To overcome these major security issues any e-Commerce organisation would need to switch on their computers or servers firewall on. However these firewalls are in conjunction with proxy server. The way firewall and proxy server works is as followed: When users send a request to access a particular site, their request doesn’t go through at one go, the request gets divided into what we call packets. These packets contain the URL, users’ data, who is it going to, type of packet it is and it hold the proxy server address. The router then sends packets to the right direction by looking at the IP address. Once the packets arrive to their destination, the firewall sorts these packets and directs them to their exact destination. Hackers can pretend to be one of these packets and tries to go through safely but luckily enough the firewall can notice them and destroy them bad packets. Having said that, firewall doesn’t recognise these bad packets if they have been created by professional hackers. If one of these bad packets has managed to trick firewall and pass through, they will need to go pass the proxy server to gets to their final destination. The proxy server has two securities which is nearly impossible for these packets to go through. The first one is mapping accounts which basically means, it checks the users’ username and password and see if they exist on the system. The second one is URL authorisation which means the proxy server verifies the URL address.

Any e-Commerce organisation would need to secure its website and database from unauthorised access such as hackers. They need to have the necessary protection which they will need to have virus software stored on their server or computer which will help them detect any virus threat.

Again organisation would need to have Application Front End Hardware this is a clever hardware placed on the network before the traffic arrives to the servers. Its job is to analyse each packets as they go through the system, in that case it identifies them as priority, regular, or dangerous.

Any e-Commerce organisation would need to use more than three servers at least for the reason that, they can dedicate each server to perform a certain task, for example they can have a server which only controls application, another one for audio/ video and another one of mails etc. If anything happened such as any has managed to have the company email address and they decided to keep sending them thousand of anonymous emails that will be a major problem for the organisation because their storage space will get full. But what can the organisation do is shut down the server that deals with the mails while trying to solve that problem out. That way their business will keep running because the other servers are still working. On the other hand if the organisation didn’t have them different servers to perform different tasks, they will be forced to shut down the server which will affect their business and they might lose money as a result of that.

The company will need to have Secure Socket Layer (SSL) on their website to protect any data that has been transferred because the (SSL) only encrypt transmitted data only, it doesn’t protect any data that stored on the company computers so the company need to take this into account and provide the necessary security software such as anti virus software which will help protect their computers from hackers and any viruses.

The company can’t turn their computers Firewall on because it will stop people accessing their website but what they can do instead is store their webpage on one server and store their database on another server that way it will impossible for people and hackers to access the company data because it won’t be part of the website.

The company will need to provide their customers with a username and password so each time they purchase something from the website or they want to access their account with the company they will need to put their username and password to verify themselves.

The other thing that the company can do to protect data is design a form on the website which only accept valid data so when a customer tries to input invalid data either by accident or by purpose an error message should appear stop them from continuing.

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