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Mounting Web Security Challenge

As Web-based services continue to supplant desktop software at a rapid rate, and as service providers store ever-more sensitive user information, Web security becomes increasingly important.

By now, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and others have built and control many of the services-like email-that we've come to rely on, which makes them guardians of our most sensitive information. We already have sensitive business and personal information stored on the Web; just imagine if our health records, driver's license and passport information were too? They may be, one day. The scary thing is that Web-based services are grappling with security issues, as providers basically apply tested desktop software security measures. It's a learn-on-the-job-type arms race against hackers. The obvious question: are Web-based services worth the risk?

Which is really disturbing when you consider that since 1990, more than 90 percent of all documents have been produced digitally; more than 42 percent of Web users have used Internet banking services, and more than 160 billion emails are sent per day, according to various IT-tracking firms.

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