Visa, MasterCard Tackle Internet Security

Companies led by Visa International and MasterCard International are teaming up to find a way to make Internet credit-card purchases safe from cyber-thieves.

The new technology, called Secure Electronic Transactions, was to be unveiled yesterday and should be available by year's end, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The system would allow a user to send credit-card account numbers to a merchant in a scrambled form that would be indecipherable to electronic thieves. A special code would allow a merchant to check electronically with the bank issuing the card to make sure it is valid.

Visa has been aligned with Microsoft Corporation in tackling Internet security, while MasterCard and Netscape Communications Corporation have worked on a competing system.

Now those companies, along with International Business Machines (IBM) GTE Corp., and others will pool their research to develop one standard, the Times and Journal said.

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