Ecommerce & Malware

One of the first major developments that made the Internet a virtual necessity both at home and in the business place has been the rise of ecommerce, which is the sale of products, services, etc., over the Internet. The ability to sell goods and services online has prompted many companies to expand their operations to a global level. Some businesses operate solely on the Internet. Their low overhead has allowed them to rise in prominence over the past few decades and become some of the most successful businesses in the world.

The two notable pioneers of ecommerce are amazon.com and ebay.com. The creation of these sites allowed users to save money by purchasing goods without all of the markup added by brick and mortar stores, and find desirable items that are unavailable or hard to find in their communities. The fact that these products are then shipped directly to the user within a few days eliminates the need to commute and search extensively if a hard-to-find product is needed by a consumer.

Currently, there are hundreds of retailers online selling products at prices that are very competitive with physical retailer outlets. The products that are available range from electronics to food products and everything in-between. Users can also sell their own items secondhand on a number of sites that cater to this. Often, the seller and the buyer are able to get better prices online than they would normally get at a secondhand store or garage sale.

A new trend that is becoming popular in ecommerce is group buying. This is when users are able to obtain a wholesale price by collectively purchasing a product. The process is done through a website that lists the product and the number of people interested in purchasing it. If the product does not receive a big enough number of interested parties within a certain amount of time, then the offer is void and none of the people involved are able to receive the discounted product.

Ecommerce

With all the money being exchanged online, security is a major issue. The majority of ecommerce is conducted via credit card. Credit cards should only be used on trusted websites, but even then, the information given to a website is subject to threats from outside users. This has necessitated the creation of PayPal. It works as an intermediary body between a website selling a product and the user’s credit card. With a PayPal account, the user simply needs to log into PayPal rather than enter sensitive information concerning his bank account into a website. This allows users to purchase goods and services online more securely.

The future of ecommerce is bright. Online businesses have weathered economic turmoil better than their physical counterparts. As ecommerce continues to grow and evolve, it will continue to present many new and unique employment opportunities, and students who take computer courses designed to help them take advantage of the ecommerce job market will find themselves well-positioned when they are ready to look for employment.

Malware

Malware, destructive software that comes in many forms, causes significant damage to computer systems and costs billions of dollars to consumers and businesses annually. More malware is created annually than legal software. No one purposefully downloads malware or allows it to access their computer, but it exists and finds ways to access computer systems nonetheless. Its existence was predicted when computer science was in its infancy and is incredibly common today, with notable forms of digital destruction occasionally making the evening news.

The most well-known form of malware is viruses. The terms are sometimes used to mean the same thing. Viruses are very small bits of software that, when they enter a computer system reproduce themselves and sometimes are designed to avoid detection much like human viruses. There are two main kinds of viruses: resident and nonresident varieties.

Malware

Resident viruses load themselves into a computer’s memory, then replicate when the computer performs a certain function, spreading to all functions related to the initial piece of memory. Nonresident viruses are more measured in their attack and are comprised of two parts: one in charge of finding a host and the other in charge replicating the virus once a host is found. The process then repeats until it is discovered and neutralized. Worms are similar except they do not require software to be run in order to damage and corrupt a computer.

Not all malware is meant to simply cause damage. More and more often, malware is created in an attempt for to get money for its creator. Spyware has become a common problem on almost all computers. This software monitors a user’s online activity and makes advertisements pop up on his computer based on the content at which the user looks. Advanced forms of spyware may even redirect a user’s search engine results to paid advertisers. The most severe form of for-profit malware is key loggers, which interpret and store the keystrokes of a user in order to gain access to passwords, financial data, and credit card information.

A user would be foolish to download any of these programs on purpose, but they are common on many computer systems, and support a whole industry of illegal or semi-legal computer usage. Their success in spreading to host computers is due to the use of “Trojan horses.” These forms of software disguise themselves as necessary programs, and are downloaded from the Internet. They may even find a way to attach themselves to legitimate software.

Information technology (IT) companies hire specialists to help protect them against intrusion of this sort. For home computer users, there are many forms of software a user can purchase to detect and remove malware from his computer. Sometimes, it comes free with the purchase of a new computer. Since new malware is being launched every day, and existing malware is always being upgraded, protection must be updated on a weekly or daily basis, and anti-malware software usually includes a one-year subscription to the updates. If a computer is suspected of having malware problems, and protective software is unable to remove it, the best option for a user is to take it to a computer shop for inspection and servicing. Businesses such as these tend to offer free anti-malware software in addition to cleaning computer drives. Because the threat is so serious and the stakes so high, computer courses that help students learn how to fight these threats are more and more important.


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