Credit Card Security & Email


Is Your Credit Card Data Safe When Sent By Email?


Credit card fraud is very real, and there are valid concerns in giving out your card number in any manner.


Let us examine the delivery path of an email message, and perhaps you will see that at this point in time it is probably one of the most secure methods of transmitting your credit card information in existence today.


An email message literally hops from one server to another on the Internet until it reaches its destination; it is guided through its journey by Domain Name Servers (DNS). The average email message travels through ten to twelve different servers on the Internet before it reaches its final destination. This path is rarely the same; two email messages sent from the same server to the same email address usually travel across completely different paths and across a variable number of servers depending on diverse factors such as the status of the servers on the Internet at any given time. So while security can be guaranteed on both ends of the email "transaction", the privacy of this email could easily be compromised by computer literate hackers who may intercept and read the contents of these messages, when traveling across the intermediary servers. Of course, the randomness of the path taken by an email message, and the ubiquity of email messages over the Internet, make intercepting email messages also random - as a hacker will be at loss in figuring out where to intercept a certain message.


For the work involved in obtaining valid credit card numbers via email, the 'hacker/swindler' would exert an incredibly unprofitable amount of time and effort to come up with even one usable credit card account number. Even then they must contend with more aware business owners who will check the mailing address of items ordered via credit card.


As reported by New York Times journalist Peter H. Lewis:
"Sending a credit card number to an electronic merchant over the Internet is probably the safest way to make such a transaction. In the last week, for example, I handed my credit card to a waiter who disappeared with it for five minutes. I faxed my credit card information to a business in New Jersey, and the fax probably lay exposed to everyone in that office for hours and perhaps to the cleaning crew that night. I called a hotel and gave my card data to a reservation clerk and continued my recklessness by ordering some merchandise from a clothing catalogue, again by reading my credit card information to some unseen operator.


Compared with the risk of handing my credit card to a stranger, which I do nearly every day, sending it over the Internet is pretty secure." (The New York Times, Nov. 13, C3)


You can sleep at night assured that the risk of ordering merchandise via email carries the lowest risk factor of almost any other credit card transaction known to man. The common practice of splitting a credit card number into 2 (or more) pieces and sending them in separate email messages should foil even the best of hackers.

From an article given to the public domain on the Bibliofind newslist