Discussion Papers

Annette Hillebrand

Sicherheit im Internet zwischen Selbstorganisation und Regulierung - Eine Analyse unter Berücksichtigung von Ergebnissen einer Online-Umfrage
Nr. 182 / Dezember 1997


More and more the internet is developing towards a universal information and communications platform that is gaining attraction for electronic commerce. As a result, protection against attacks and transaction security as well as data protection are becoming a central topic. This study deals with the options for shaping security in the internet considering the net´s culture of self-organisation and the regulation demands from the commercial and state interests point of view. The aim is to analyze the different actors´ demands to enforce internet security and to assess them according to their social, institutional and organizational implementation prerequisits.

From the end of september till the middle of november 1997 an online survey in the world wide web was conducted to get empirical data about the users risk perception in the field of confidential communication, online-shopping and the use of encryption products as well as possible obstacles to the use of security measures. The results show that traditional offline payments by cash on delivery, invoice or charge to a bank account are the most favorite today. Electronic payment systems have to compete with these systems that are believed trustworthy.

In the view of the survey respondents technical threats are more important than social risks, however, the users themselves are also seen as a risk factor not to be neglected. The lack of security measures is not considered to be an obstacle to improve security but so is the lack of knowledge and the fact that available means are hardly used. To abandon several internet services is not accepted as a longterm solution. According to the respondents technical problems will be solved in a technical way and a support of the user´s computer literacy has to improve the use of security measures. The way of dealing with risks largely keeps with the tradition of the net´s self-organisation. Only in the field of encryption and digital signatures the need of international agreements was mentioned.

These results raise the question if the decentralized open structure of the internet determines the building up of a security culture. A look at the ways that cope with internet risks individually and collectively reveals the fact that self-organised developments of security measures as well as market-driven approaches might be the most successful. Given the increasing significance of electronic commerce and the corresponding demands of different actors for multidimensional security the state is expected to have an important role as a moderator of co-ordination processes.

Only German language version available.

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