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Mobile Phones, E-Commerce and IT Security

Introduction

In order to respond to specific needs, cell phones were introduced primarily to help professionals communicate when no phone is available and a critical business issue needs to be discussed. Communication, however, is part of everyday life and not just a business need. The transformation of cell phones into an indispensable communication tool can be characterized as expected in this context; cell phones have become a necessity today, but the margins of their role have been expanded more than initially estimated. In reality, cell phones had specific and limited functional capacity in their initial forms; today, cell phones have a lot of development to adapt to their new role as a primary mode of communication – an exemplary example is BlackBerry, a cell phone with advanced capabilities, such as the Organizer or the GPS (referring to the Smartphone features, see the firm’s website); On the other hand, the fact that mobile phones have become the predominant mode of communication has led to another problem: people’s social life takes at new forms; individual alienation is encouraged; mobile phones are no longer merely convenience in this context; this shift in the position of mobile phones should be checked.  It should be noted that the above-mentioned initiative is expected to face strong opposition when taking into account the fact that mobile phones are considered to be related to daily life at such a level that warnings about the risks of their extensive use are ignored – as in the case of ‘ electrosensitivity ‘ a health problem related to mobile phone use  (Rubin et al., 2008, p.1). On the other hand, even in cases that rules were set for the use of mobile phone (for instance, when driving) these rules were not applied (Walsh et al., 2008, p.1893). The current paper examines key issues related to the use and progress of mobile phones, e-commerce and IT security to explain their development internationally.

Mobile Phones – Key Advances and Limitations

Airtexting

Airtexting offers the ability to communicate ‘in silence’ – i.e. without actually speaking. This means that the people around are unlikely to notice the specific activity; however, this advantage of airtexting is lost due to a serious disadvantage in practice: the ability of anyone close to the sender to read the message text. A problem is set at this point? Is confidentiality more important than contact needs? It depends on each person’s perceptions and experiences. From a personal view, I would characterize this feature as promoting the violation of privacy; in fact, through the development of such initiatives the sense of non-existence of privacy is growing. Gradually, the privacy will be severely affected – it has already suffered severe pressure and violations, whereas the communication – related activities are strongly supported and promoted (LaRue et al., 2010). Moreover, the violation of privacy through the mobile phone can be developed in various ways; an example is the tracking of the mobile phone (Mathieson, 2005, p.19). The specific issue is also highlighted in the study of Marias et al., (2006) where it is noted that ‘location privacy is important, since position information is considered as personal information’ (Marias et al., 2006, p.211). In accordance with the above, the rejection of airtexting would not use to the limitation of communication rights; on the other hand, the development of airtexting would support the elimination of privacy – since privacy is violated and this fact is not considered as a crime then neither the violations of privacy under different circumstances would be punished.

Use of Mobile Phone in the Classroom

The use of mobile phone within the classroom is in opposition with the school’s rules; more specifically, the school’s policy on mobile phone use is that mobile phones should be turned off when entering a classroom. The specific policy can be characterized as justified taking into consideration the fact that students would not be able to concentrate on the delivery of the lesson if they would be free to exchange messages or talk through the mobile phones. In the same context, airtexting would be included in the above prohibition; even if the whole process does not involve in speaking still there is lack of concentration on the delivery of the lesson. For this reason, airtexting should be included in the school’s rule that orders to turn off the mobile phones in classroom – no exception should be made for airtexting. The use of mobile phones in schools has been an issue extensively examined in the literature; it is supported that many educational sites do not have policies in regard to the use of mobile phones (Lever et al., 2007, p.1133); at the next level, the potential use of mobile phone for communicating with the family is considered to be a constraint for the development of strict rules in schools regarding the use of mobile phones (Chen et al., 2009, p.179)

Functionality – Personal Experience and Views

My cell phone apart from the standard functionalities, i.e. of making and receiving phone calls, supports the following activities: taking photos and checking e-mail messages. By my opinion, the perfect cell phone would have the functions support by the BlackBerry Smartphone plus the ability to support software similar to that used by computers – referring not only to the software addressing common office needs, like the Microsoft Office, but also more complex software, like the Photoshop. Moreover, a perfect mobile phone would not require charging so frequently; it could be charged once a month.

Mobile Phones as Exclusive Tools of Communication

In the future, mobile phones will become the standard phones; the land-based phone line will be then deleted; in this case the access of Internet from home would be included in the mobile services; this prospect could offer the following advantage: the individual that has made an arrangement for an Internet connection will be able to use this connection not only in house but also outside; no extra charges would exist. Another issue, though, would be that to help the specific technology, most mobile phones would be replaced. In my opinion, this change would be very important in terms of the variety and quality of services available to users of these systems.

Benefits of Cloud Computing, Virtualisation, Green Computing and Thin Client Computing

The advances in the area of IT technology have offered the chance to decrease the operational costs and to protect the environment. Other benefits have been also results for businesses that have implemented IT systems, which are based on advanced technology. Green Computing is such a scheme. Green computing aims to ensure the use of a firm’s computing systems ‘with least possible amount of power’; Green computing benefits the firms, the community and the environment in the context described below: a) it helps to reduce the power needs of computers – which can be extremely high (see also Figure 1, Appendix), b) it helps to reduce the energy cost (Wang, 2010, p.2), c) it helps to reduce a firm’s needs on cooling infrastructure (in order to respond to the increased heat of the computing systems), Wang, 2010, p.2, d) it helps to increase the customer value and the business value (Harmon et al., 2009, p.1707) and e) it permits the further development of data centers across a specific area – under the terms that the energy needs of existing data centers are decreased (Wang, 2010, p.333).

Virtualisation is another technological scheme that offers significant benefits to its users. The specific scheme allows to the user of a computer to run two different operational systems – simultaneously – allowing an important save in costs for servers; for this reason, the specific technology can be characterized as a valuable solution for firms that want to increase their system’s performance without reducing its safety. It should be noted that ‘virtualisation extends the battlefield (referring to the battle between the security services and the malware opponents) by introducing a new level of abstraction, the VMM or hypervisor’ (Skapinetz, 2007, 4); the structure of Virtualisation is presented in Figure 2, Appendix., where both forms of virtualisation, the software and the hardware virtualisation are explained.

In addition to the above, the scheme of thin client could be also mentioned; the thin client is a term which refers to a specific computer system and is used in order to describe ‘a shift back toward centralized computing while maintaining the benefits offered by the PC revolution’ (Pippard, 2010, p.2); the major advantage of thin client compared to a common computer system is that the thin client ‘does not have a hard drive, it needs no software loaded on it locally, and, it stores no data. Instead, applications are executed on powerful servers’ (Pippard, 2010, p.2). The specific device, the thin client, has quite simply requirements of activation and operation; it needs just to be plugged in; then it starts to operate with no further process (of course it is required that its user is logged in). The thin client can lead to the limitation of a firm’s operational costs since there will be no need for hardware and software – or other similar technology.

Finally, the cloud computing scheme would be taken into consideration as a potential suggestion if the update of the firm’s existing system would be decided. In accordance with a definition given by IBM (2009) ‘Cloud computing is a style of computing whose foundation is the delivery of services, software and processing capacity using private or public networks’ (IBM, 2009, p.1). The benefits of the cloud computing can be summarized as follows: a) with the cloud computing managers can emphasize on the development of their firm – rather than trying to assess the firm’s computer problems (IBM, 2009, p.8), b) cloud computing ‘promotes IT optimization so that IT resources are configured formaximum cost-benefit’ (IBM, 2009, p.9) and c) it helps to reduce a firm’s operational costs; at the same time it support innovation across the organization.

IT Auditing

IT Auditing and E-Commerce

IT audit is required in order for a firm’s IT systems to perform effectively; the performance of a specific e-commerce scheme will be also negatively affected in case that the necessary phases of audit have not been developed. The specific issue is illustrated in Smith’s report (2004, p.106); in the above study it is made clear that an e-commerce platform can only work effectively if it is properly audited; the related checklist contains questions concerning the reliability of the installation of the e-commerce site, the Internet support of the site, the presence of an extranet, etc.  (Smith, 2004, p.106). On the other hand, an e-commerce system is of significant importance for an organization; for this reason it is necessary that its auditing is developed with particular importance; this issue is highlighted by Pathak (p.99) who notes that managers in firms that have an e-commerce system should understand the importance of employ IT auditors; the intervention of IT auditors on the monitoring of e-commerce sites is important ‘because of additional risks associated with e-commerce systems and the resulting need for strong control procedures’ (Pathak, p.99).

IT Auditing – Analysis of Characteristics

IT auditing ensures that the various aspects of a particular IT system are aligned with the existing legal rules that refer to the specific sector; in order to ensure the quality of IT systems, the IT Governance Institute and the Office of Government Commerce (UK) developed a series of standards/ practices that are used in order to identify or guarantee the quality of IT systems, these standards have been categorized as follows: the COBIT, the ITIL and the ISO 17799 standards; these standards support the organizational performance and help to the increase of transparency in all organizational activities (IT Governance Institute, 2005, p.9). COBIT is one of the above schemes; it is used in order to guarantee that the firm will achieve its objectives (IT Governance Institute, 2005, p.12). In the context of COBIT, IT auditing is related with specific domains, like ‘a) Plan and Organize  b) Acquire and Implement, c) Deliver and Support and d) Monitor’ (IT Governance Institute, 2005, p.12). Using the COBIT standards, the IT auditing develops the following merits: a) the use of information across the organization is improved and further developed, b) enterprise management becomes more effective; the firm’s governance is set as a priority and all the necessary measures for the improvement of organizational performance can be taken, c) the information required for the development of the organization is made available, d) the firm’s IT system is effectively and adequately protected, e) the firm can choose to further develop its online presence and f) the firm can choose to change certain of its organizational activities without affecting its performance – since its systems is under continuous control there would be no issue of damage. However, IT auditing can also have demerits, like the following two: a) mistakes in the IT audit can have severe effects on the organizational performance; failures in the specific sector could lead to the development of false assumptions regarding the condition of the firm’s IT system which is therefore exposured to high risks, b) the assumptions developed by the IT auditing team are usually not cross – examined; in this way, the risk for a failure is increased; the firm has to accept in advance the potential of this risk, which is known as the audit risk (Arens et al., 2006, p.109).

E-Commerce

E-Commerce and Social Networking

E-commerce can be used in order to promote a series of different business activities; an area where e-commerce has been particularly successful has been the social networking, the communication among people – no matter if they are familiar or not – using the Internet. When developed through the e-commerce, the social networking is related with the achievement of a specific target, for example the e-dating services (Livermore et al., 2008, p.14)

E-commerce and E-Shopping

The main role of e-commerce is the promotion of products/ services to the market; e-shopping, i.e. the online purchase of goods is considered to be the most close concept to the e-commerce scheme. E-shopping, like e-commerce, is based on the exchange of money for specific products; however, the role of these two concepts is different: e-shopping refers to the acquisition of products for money, i.e. it is an activity developed by an individual or a firm periodically, from time to time for specific needs; on the other hand, e-commerce emphasizes on the development of sale – related activities on a permanent basis and as part of the trade (Sun et al., 2004, p.1).

Integration of Social Networking and E-Shopping

E-shopping could be integrated with social networking but under specific terms; because of the nature of social networking the incorporation of commercial rules in the specific activity would not be possible unless this reference would involve to suggestions towards the members of a social networking team in regard to specific product. In other words, the member of a social group could choose to prefer the products of a specific firm; this would be an arrangement incorporating the social networking and the e-shopping.

Conclusion

The advances of technology offers to individuals and firms the chance to develop their activities in accordance with their needs; for individuals technology has become not just a tool for serving specific needs, like the needs of communication served through the mobile phone, but also a tool for changing their style of life. For businesses, technology is related with the organizational performance; using the appropriate technology a firm can improve its position towards its competitors, like in the cases of virtualisation and e-commerce or increase its participation in the needs of the community, like in the case of Green computing. The needs that the technology will serve each time have to be prioritized using appropriate criteria; at the next level, the relevant schemes of technology will be introduced trying to achieve the best possible balance between benefits and costs.

References
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Online Sources
  • BlackBerry, 2010, available at http://uk.blackberry.com/devices/features/
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Appendix

Mobile Phones, E-Commerce and IT Security

Figure 1 – Thermal Guidelines for data processing environments (source: Wang, 2010, p.2)

Mobile Phones, E-Commerce and IT Security

Figure 2 – Hardware and software virtualisation (source: Skapinetz, 2007, p.2)

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