Friday, April 29, 2011

Cyber Spies: Not Your Typical 007

Purchasing goods and services online is more convenient than ever. Whether you are going to buy a book, a home, musical equipment or if you are booking a flight or a reservation at your favorite resort or restaurant, people are doing all their shopping via the Internet. A credit or debit card is required when shopping online. There are other forms of electronic payments; however, charge cards are the most popular mode of payment that many consumers use in shopping online.

Credit cards allow the cardholder to purchase goods and other services not exceeding a predetermined amount better known as a credit limit. When a customer swipes their card or enters their card information on a secure, online form, several technological wonders occur. Within a matter of seconds, the merchant receives the cardholder’s information; the bank that issued the plastic card pays the merchant for the product or service. At some point, usually within thirty days, the card holder repays the bank on a designated date. All though this sounds easier said than done, unfortunately, many people take advantage of the system in malevolent ways.

Credit card and identity fraud has increased at an alarming rate. This can be accomplished in many ways. Spies have been portrayed as cunning and mysterious. The same applies to cyber spies. A common way cyber spies take advantage of a cardholder is by sending spyware to an unsuspicious Internet consumer. Spyware is a type of malware that can be installed on computers, and which collects small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect. Once a spyware is able to find your personal data about your card, it then transmits it to the distributor of the spyware. Now that the distributor of the spyware has your personal data, they either sell your information to the highest bidder or impersonate you. Now, that the distributor has your information, they can approve themselves as the owner of your account. Then, they can request a new pin number and extra credit cards. At this point, they can purchase items or take out cash advances on your account.

Credit card holders need to always be ultra-conscious of their accounts. Guard your credit card data by making sure you are shopping at legitimate sites who utilize secure servers during the check out process. Install anti-spyware programs on your systems to eliminate potential threats. Don’t just give out your personal information when making purchases at a store or online. It is worth being prepared with all the knowledge and tools necessary to avoid being a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft.

Help protect your customer’s personal data and keep up with the competition by establishing a merchant account to accept credit card payments. You will be glad you did, and so will your customers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Protecting your customer’s personal information is a great liability and responsibility for a business once a merchant account to accept credit cards for your business is established.

The question is, “Where does my responsibility begin and how is my business liable? In 2006, to make sure that businesses are complying with security standards, the major credit card companies, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, collaborated and established security guidelines. PCI DSS, which is an acronym for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, envelops everything from the physical security of credentials to making digital files indecipherable to potential crooks. These rules remain just as relevant today, as cyber criminals incessantly search for new ways to embezzle credit card information.

When taking steps to protect consumer’s data and prevent security breaches, merchants must at least meet the minimum requirements set forth by PCI DSS. Merchants that accept electronic payments must be fully aware of these security guidelines. Whether it’s Wall Street or Main Street, the guidelines that were created by PCI DSS apply to all businesses globally. Below is an overview of the PCI DSS standards:

1. Build and maintain a secure network

• Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data.

• Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters.

2. Protect cardholder data

• Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks.

• Protect stored cardholder data.

3. Maintain a vulnerability management program

• Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs.

• Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.

4. Implement strong access control measures

• Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know.

• Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access.

• Restrict physical access to cardholder data.

5. Regularly monitor and test networks

• Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data.

• Regularly test security systems and processes.

6. Maintain an information security policy

• Maintain a policy that addresses information security for employees and contractors.

Please refer to for more information.

Merchants that break these rules can be fined. Upon such a security breach, fines are originally charged to the merchant's bank. At that point, the bank will pass on those charges to the merchant.

A larger concern is if the merchant loses a cardholder’s information. Under the state data breach notification laws, businesses that fail to guard their customers' information must admit the theft. The fines are going to be the least of your worries. Now, because it’s a good possibility your customer will not return, the damage is done and you have just lost business.

Whether it’s at the airport or at your home, security is a top priority. To stay competitive, businesses must establish a merchant account for credit card processing. Protect your customers and your business and secure your electronic transactions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hollywood...Enough With The Remakes!

Every time we turn around, Hollywood spits out another remake of a film they have no business remaking. Now, its ARTHUR. Russell Brand should be ashamed. Whether this movie amuses or not, it is repulsive to me that the lack of creativity in California promotes filmmakers to delve into what has already been done. Arthur was a classic and nobody could do it like Dudley Moore. Producers of this film should be ridiculed. They would have better served the community by taking their money and donating it to the American Red Cross for relief to Japan, than to piss it away in this fashion.

Whether a movie could be done better or not a second time around, it shouldn’t! Hey, I have an idea, come up with something NEW! Next thing you know, there will be a remake of Star Wars or the Exorcist. Yes, Titanic (a remake) was one of the most financially profitable films made…EVER, but how often do these stupid remakes really create anything more enjoyable or better produced, than the original that they are replacing. Keep in mind that Titanic is a true story. Original movies like Arthur, Stepford Wives, 12 Angry Men, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Guess Who’s Coming Dinner, etc are classics that should never have been remade.

Sure, young people, with no idea that there is an original, will go see it, if not just to see the newest R.B. film. Me, I will gather the wife and kids, make a big popcorn, and put the original on the big screen at home. Hollywood…Cop a CLUE! Rent some creativity! Get some writers who have a great concept and make films that inspire the art. Until then, I’ll stick with Showtime.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Special

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