Authentication certificates for online trading were battered at a rare public forum Thursday at the Blue House presided over by President Park Geun-hye. Lee Seoung-cheol, deputy chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, called the compulsory application of ActiveX - Microsoft’s security software needed for online transactions - a typical example of “Galapagos regulations.” Park stepped into the discussion and called for a drastic resolution of the software’s cumbersome requirements that make it difficult even for Chinese TV fans to buy the coat a famous Korean actress wore in the popular drama “My Love From the Star.”
Complaints about online certificates and ActiveX have reached a peak. According to an FKI survey, 78.6 percent of Koreans demanded that ActiveX be scrapped, while 84.1 percent wanted a separate and safe system for online payments.
The controversy is not new. While proponents regarded it as the most effective tool for ensuring security, opponents denounced it as an impediment to online transactions. In the meantime, people’s inconvenience increased by leaps and bounds, particularly since the massive leaks of customer information at three major credit card companies, which led to more complicated - and bothersome - online payment procedures.
Solving the problem with ActiveX is a prerequisite if Korea is to facilitate online commerce and banking. A security tool of Microsoft, it provides optimal security in Korea predominantly based on Internet Explorer. Customers can’t even access the Internet if they don’t install ActiveX. Given the more frequent hackings that exploit such an atmosphere, it’s urgent to develop an effective and convenient authentication system. The government needs to drastically relax the authentication process. Paypal, a world-famous e-commerce business, was created by eBay. The marvelous success of Alibaba.com, the world’s biggest online shopping company in China, was possible thanks to Paypal.
The government plans to come up with a revision of online transaction procedures as early as the first half of the year. But financial institutions and companies, too, need to ease their blind adherence to overly restrictive online certificates, including ActiveX. Otherwise, any dream of the birth of a world-famous online trading company in Korea is distant indeed.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 24, Page 30