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The Crypto Myth
On a more technical level, security geeks constantly remind us that the paltry 40-bit encryption in default browsers can easily be broken with an old desktop PC in one day. We should really use 56-, 64- or 128-bit encryption, they argue, because it would take a week of 1,000 computers (56 bit) or a century of all the computers on the planet (128 bit) to break.
Yes, data encryption is a fundamental concept in security, and I'd be a fool to say it's not important for many applications and in many environments. But all this brouhaha about Internet transaction encryption misses a much larger point: The risk of having your credit card number sniffed on the public 'Net is next to nothing. I'm not talking about sniffing on slow network segments or on a corporate subnet--where the risk is real--but rather on the public Internet.