Online buyers need protection: security expert

Canadians hoping to avoid malls and buy their holiday gifts online should be aware that not all websites are using the latest security encryption, the head of an Ottawa technology firm says.

Canadians hoping to avoid malls and buy their holiday gifts online should be aware that not all websites are using the latest security encryption, the head of an Ottawa technology firm says.

Mike Borza, chief technology officer at Elliptic Technologies, a company that specializes in security design for devices such as cellphones and laptops, said the government should enact new laws to protect consumers. 

Borza said consumers should make sure their web browser shows a lock icon when they're making an online purchase, indicating that encryption technology is on and their personal credit information is protected. 

"If companies are unable to do the right thing by protecting that information properly … there needs to be an enforcement regime in place to take care of people's rights."

But the president of Ottawa-based catalogue retailer Lee Valley Tools said new laws protecting online shoppers aren't needed.

Robin Lee said his company recently invested $1 million to upgrade its website's online security system. Lee said businesses will inevitably suffer if they don't continue to invest in the best online security.

"Banks can only lose money in the short term…They claw it back from you one way or another after their losses. They'd hold you responsible for frauds. They may revoke your privilege to take a credit card."

Lee said upgrading his website's security system was onerous and expensive but necessary because he couldn't afford to lose his customers' trust.