The world is becoming increasingly interconnected and international borders, time zones and even language barriers are being broken down by the technological revolution that continues to spiral around us.
Yes OK, we realise that this isn’t news to most of you, but there is a point to be made here; as the world “collaborates” both socially and economically more than ever before, we will increasingly find that we need a currency with which to exchange and pay for goods and services.
A popular solution to global monetary payments is PayPal. Although by no means the only global “e-commerce currency wallet” of its kind, this service has proved popular and it is estimated that today the company operates as many as two hundred million user accounts in around 25 international currencies.
As widespread as that might sound, e-commerce services like PayPal will still be foreign to many individuals who will naturally stand back with some skepticism and ask whether their money will be secure if they sign up.
The bottom line advice here is that PayPal is indeed safe. But — and there is a but — there are caveats to this and the site itself has featured in the press as a result of being hacked in comparatively recent times. Good advice for users then is that individuals should consider signing up for ecommerce services of this kind using a credit card with some back-end insurance provided by the card issuer and/or bank.
That being said, PayPal is widely considered to have a clean bill of general health when it comes to safety and the company behind the site (which is in fact owned by eBay) is currently reported to be offering a “cash bounty” for research that uncovers any vulnerabilities in its website.
Tech news website TechWorld reports that PayPal is drilling down into its own online services to attempt to uncover any weaknesses that could lead to risks including the following: cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), SQL injection (SQLi) and authentication bypass vulnerabilities will qualify for bounties — and you don’t need to understand the full technical explanation of all of those processes to recognise their relevance and importance here.
So let’s just be clear on where dangers do exist. PayPal’s payment services are basically secure, but that does not stop fraudulent traders registering to sell goods via eBay or elsewhere and using the site as a means to trick customers into parting with their money.
Further to this, is a user’s computer is hacked and personal transaction details relating to a PayPal payment are stolen, then this is also essentially outside of the scope of the services own IT security controls.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper recently reported instances of eBay sellers experiencing hacks relating to PayPal accounts saying that, “PayPal offers no comeback to sellers handing items over to buyers on their doorstep.”
So the advice here is to be wary of the wider personal circumstances relating to any electronic payment and check out PayPal’s own online fraud protection advice before you commit your hard earned cash to anyone.
The final word here must of course the Latin motto “caveat emptor” i.e. “let the buyer beware”.