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e-Commerce, e-Business or e-Tailing is an electronic transaction, performed over the Internet - and usually via the World Wide Web - in which the parties to the transaction agree, confirm and initiate both payment and goods transfer; at the click of the mouse.

There are two general types of e-Commerce activity; Business to Consumer (or Business to Customer) - B2C, and Business to Business - B2B.

Business to Consumer is usually, but not always, characterised by the purchase of goods or services, using the "shopping cart" metaphor and the acceptance of credit / debit cards in payment.

Business to Business, on the other hand, is concerned with using the Internet to place and receive orders from other businesses; establishing legally binding contractual commitments and pooling the resources of companies across the globe to tender for a project, with each party being authenticated and legally bound by their digital commitments.

However, to achieve this, and for e-Commerce to reach its true potential requires 'digital trust', and for this to take place requires strong technical tools to authenticate, encrypt and assure the confidentiality of data. Whilst e-Commerce can be initiated using e-mail, this requires the adoption of Digital Signatures which not only authenticates the sender, it also confirms the time and date of transmission and assures that the contents of the transmission were not tampered with.

Transactions initiated using Web servers, usually rely upon Digital Certificates and the use of the Secure Sockets Layer authentication and encrypted communication standard. In addition, to provide security for the secure transmission of documents, and other data, the use of the RSA standard is common, with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) being used to create, issue and manage the use of public and private keys (or Digital Certificates).

*** The Information Security Glossary ***
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