ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Cyber Monday Shoppers Protected by Internet Security Standards

New York, Nov 26, 2007

On the day after Thanksgiving, many shoppers work off extra calories by visiting local retailers in search of holiday bargains. But not everyone has the energy or patience to fight the madding crowd on Black Friday, traditionally one of the year’s busiest retail shopping days. For consumers who would rather browse the internet for this year’s hottest items, the first Monday after Thanksgiving marks the official start to the online holiday shopping season.

With many online retailers offering special bargains and promotions, Cyber Monday is a busy day for web transactions. The entire e-commerce infrastructure depends upon standards that ensure the security and privacy of confidential data such as credit card numbers, addresses, and other financial information.

Encryption systems, or ciphers, help ensure the confidentiality of personal information that is shared over the internet. A multipart standard developed by the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) Subcommittee 27 (SC 27), ISO/IEC 18033 discusses encryption and decryption algorithms. When a user inputs their personal or financial information during the checkout process, a cipher is applied to the plain text, turning it into encrypted data that can be safely transmitted. Once the data is received by the retailer, the cipher is once again applied to decrypt the data, returning it to plain text. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27.

In addition to algorithms and ciphers, public key techniques are a critical component of data encryption. When a consumer makes an online purchase, the data is encrypted with the vendor’s public key and can only be decrypted by the vendor’s private key. Public keys and vendor identities are verified by certificate authorities like ANSI member VeriSign, Inc., reassuring consumers of the authenticity and security of a given website. An American National Standard from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers sets specifications for public key cryptography. IEEE 1363-2000 addresses public key encryption, key derivation, and digital signatures, as well as related cryptographic parameters.

Estimates indicate that online shoppers will spend in excess of $700 million online before the day is over and at least $30 billion in total this holiday season. Though Cyber Monday heralds the start of online holiday shopping season, the second Monday in December is typically the highest grossing day, as shoppers scramble to ship holiday presents in time.

The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by, part of the National Retail Federation.