4 Powerful Internet Security Tips For Small Businesses

Keep Your Data Under Lock and Key And Avoid Embarrassing Information Breaches

business owner must work with his or her employees to protect customer and employee information. In fact, this is a huge task that many businesses fail to take seriously enough and because of that, serious problems often result.

Fortunately, one can easily develop a comprehensive strategy that protects your enterprise information and saves your business time and money.

1. Secure Your Payment Information

When it comes to credit card processing, there are several measures you can take in order to protect your finances and client information.

For starters, when accepting payments through your website, you need to use an SSL certificate. At the same time, your website should not store a customer’s payment information; instead, prompt them to enter it again for any future transactions.

From the corporate standpoint, businesses must take steps to protect any customer data that must be kept on file. This can easily be accomplished by using encryption methods and hosting the data offline on a secure server.

Protecting client information is a crucial step as one failure can lead to serious PR problems for any business.

2. Secure Access To Your Computers

Most staff members will have a need for a computer and will need to access certain software and enterprise data. To avoid security problems, there are a number of options available. One is to utilize the assistance of an IT professional to limit access to computers and/or certain software packages.

By limiting access protocols, you can avoid most serious problems, like low-level employees gaining access to the wrong program or making edits to a secure file.

Another option for securing personal privacy and enterprise data is through the use of the newer generation of third-party business intelligence software, like Armor 5, Domo, and Divide.

These types of programs are extremely useful for businesses who want to significantly reduce their equipment costs without sacrificing security of business operations.

3. Make A Secure Backup of Your Enterprise Data

You obviously can’t run a successful business leaving important data sitting on a solitary hard drive waiting for Murphy’s Law to intervene.

To avoid any serious, and possibly irrecoverable, damage to your business, you must regularly back up and secure all pertinent enterprise data. Cloud technology is currently the platform of choice for many business owners when it comes to backing up enterprise data.

Cloud servers use strong encryptions to avert data loss and access by unauthorized personnel. These servers are also equipped with enhanced security features, like two-step authentication, making it almost impossible for unauthorized users to gain access to a user account even if they know the password.

4. Properly Train Your Personnel

To take a proactive approach, you should train your employees on how to use their workstations efficiently and safely by taking the time to establish basic security policies for your employees.

You should also establish guidelines for internet use as well as rules of conduct for handling and protecting customer information and other important data that includes the penalties for policy violations.

4 Powerful Internet Security Tips For Small Businesses. 31 October 2013, Retrieved from http://www.firmology.com/2013/10/31/4-powerful-internet-security-tips-for-small-businesses/.

Are Mobile Payments Becoming Commonplace?

When making any kind of payment, consumers look for security and convenience in that order of priority. Cash and checks are the most secure forms of payment, but they are slowly on the way out due to the convenience of card transactions and the convenience of not carrying jingling change in your pockets or worrying about losing your cash to pickpockets. Credit and debit card transactions are on the rise, with close to 66%of all in-person transactions last year being completed with plastic cards, according to Javelin Strategy & Research market report on retail point of sale.

Add to this the smartphone proliferation into our day-to-day lives as we manage our communications, socialize with friends and watch or listen to entertainment on the go. The logical result of these trends would be the convenience of using a mobile or smartphone as a form of payment instead of cards or cash. There are many experiments, field trails and actual transactions already happening this way.

Let’s look at Google Wallet as an example. Google Wallet enables any credit or debit card registered with Google Wallet service to be used for payment at merchants that have payment terminals equipped with near field communications (NFC) or contactless card readers. A consumer simply needs to tap their phone on the payment terminal, and the transfer of card information to the payment terminal will replace the swiping of a card on the terminal and eliminate the need for a physical card.

Another example is Cumberland Farms, an operator of convenience stores and self-service gas pumps at 600 locations in 11 U.S. states. Cumberland Farms lets its customers register and make payments using a mobile phone equipped with GPS. The GPS feature identifies the store location, and the customer then enters the pump number or cash register number and authorizes payment through their smartphones. Once the transaction is approved over the air, the pump or cash register attendant would complete the sale or transaction.

The purpose of the mobile payment is to eliminate the need for cards, which is a direct savings for the banks that issue the cards as well as for consumers who need not carry one given that almost all of us carry a mobile phone nowadays. Interestingly, there are more mobile phone users than credit or debit card owners in this world today.

The Steps To Mobile Payment Implementation

The first step to making mobile payments the way of the future of all financial transactions is to secure the credit/debit information stored in the phone. This can be done in many ways, but the primary way is to encrypt this information before being stored.

The next step is to ensure the transaction is always authorized by the owner. This can be done with a pin, password or biometric authentication, or a combination of two or more forms of authentication. This authentication, once done, is what will allow the secure transfer of the financial information from the phone to the merchant to begin.

The transfer of the financial information from the phone to the payment terminal in the case of in-person transaction, or to the Internet or cloud payment processing server directly in the case of online transactions, is the last step in this part of the process. In the case of online transactions, sending the encrypted financial data over a SSL connection, as is done today, is safe and convenient. In the case of in-person transactions at a store or bank, the transfer of the information from the phone to the terminal is the tricky part, and there are multiple technology options out there to aid this process, including NFC as in the case of Google Wallet, GPS with over-the-network transfer as in the case of Cumberland Farms, or a completely new method like using Bluetooth low energy or some other form of wireless technology.

Once the information is transferred to the payment terminal or the online merchant, the rest of the transaction processing will follow the existing methods in place with the payment processor taking care of authorizing and completing the transaction.

With the ease of use and convenience provided by mobile payment, I’m excited to see where (and how fast!) the industry continues to grow in the coming years. Mobile transactions could eventually overtake transactions using plastic cards and even pocket change transactions as the predominant method of financial transactions.

Are Mobile Payments Becoming Commonplace?. 2013, November 3, Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/mobile-payments-becoming-commonplace-0669446.

What Do Customers Want? Survey Shows Growing Appetite for More Communications

In our always connected society, we increasingly rely on real-time information and notifications in our daily lives – from checking our bank account balance on a smartphone app to getting a text message saying a prescription is ready for pick-up. And, new research commissioned by Varolii shows consumers find this type of proactive outreach from businesses extremely welcome and helpful.

This national study of 1,000 adults shows that consumers want more, not less, customer service related communication from businesses. In fact, a majority of respondents – 70 percent – believe these messages could help them avoid issues, like a late fee. And, nearly 80 percent of respondents say they trust the judgment of the companies with whom they have relationships about when, why and how to send such messages.

What About Laws Restricting Communications?

The TCPA dictates that companies cannot automatically dial or send informational text messages to mobile phones without the prior express consent of the recipient. But, consumers may have a different opinion.

The research shows nearly one in four consumers automatically assume that the companies they do business with can contact them. Eighty-four percent of respondents also strongly believe that if they give their cell phone number as their primary contact to a company, then it is acceptable for that company to contact them at that number.

This doesn’t mean we should ignore the regulations – it just means that consumers may be more open to more asks for consent. Balancing compliance and customer satisfaction is a challenge we all face today. Companies must find the right blend of customer outreach – providing the right information at the right time, via the right channel – while still adhering to various state and federal rules.

How Do They Want These Communications?

Consumers still like traditional emails and phone calls, but mobile is fast becoming the top way to reach a majority of American consumers. Today, nearly 80 percent of Americans have given their cell number to a company – with more than one-quarter of respondents indicating they usually or always provide their cell number. Additionally, consumers now favor text messaging just as much as getting a phone call. One in five respondents surveyed say text messaging is their preferred form of communication.

top preferred channels What do Customers Want? Survey Shows a Growing Appetite for More Communications

What Do Customers Want? Survey Shows Growing Appetite for More Communications, 2013, October 24, by Brian Moore, retrieved from http://bankinnovation.net/2013/10/what-do-customers-want-survey-shows-growing-appetite-for-more-communications/.

Latin Americans Give Strong Seal of Approval to Social

Much fonder adopters of social media than internet users in the US

Social media has quickly become important to internet users in Latin America, based on research from Ipsos ITOX and Ipsos Global @dvisor.

The July 2013 survey of web users around the world found that nearly four in 10 of those in Brazil, along with 28% in Mexico and 27% in Argentina, rated social media “very important,” or a five on a five-point scale. A further quarter of internet users in Brazil and Mexico, and 19% more in Argentina, rated social media a four. That means a solid majority of web users in Brazil and Mexico, and nearly half in Argentina, consider social media at least somewhat important to them.

That makes these users much more likely than those in the US to place importance on social media—just internet users polled in the US said social media was “very important,” with a further 21% rating it somewhat important. Numbers were similar in most of Europe, though internet users in Russia and Spain were a bit further ahead than other countries studied. The attitudes of web users in Canada almost exactly mirrored those of the US. Latin American web users appear most similar to those in developing economies in Asia-Pacific, including India, where 30% of internet users considered social media very important, Indonesia (27%) and China (25%).

eMarketer estimates that this year, 38.4 million internet users in Mexico will use social networking sites at least monthly, as well 78.3 million internet users in Brazil and 17.8 million in Argentina.

Latin Americans Give Strong Seal of Approval to Social . Retrieved from 2013, Oct 22,  http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Latin-Americans-Give-Strong-Seal-of-Approval-Social/1010322#cOsyQprXkv3kH4DT.99.

6 ways to increase sales and optimise your ecommerce payment page


Online merchants can reduce payment page abandonment by focussing on a few key changes to their payment page which can increase checkout conversion rates. Customising the payment page will limit problems and help cardholders feel secure. Although one would most likely expect that many of the below points are expected norms, I have often experienced frustration at the time of purchase and seen issues surrounding the merchants payment page which either led me to repeating the payment process or bailing out of the purchase all together.

Here are a few key pointers.

1. Payment page error handling

Alerting cardholders to commonly made mistakes on the payment page limits frustration. By using in-line error handling, the number of payment processing steps are also reduced. The transaction request does not proceed to the bank or the payment provider before a cardholder’s information is accurately entered. This prevents time being wasted between web pages, lessens cardholder confusion and reduces payment page abandonment. There is nothing more frustrating than the cardholder’s payment being rejected due to invalid payment data being entered and having to click the back button to start the process over again. Error handling on the payment page alerts the cardholder of data that either needs to be added or amended such as correct card number or CVV before proceeding with the transaction.

2. Numeric validation

Only allow numeric characters to be entered in fields intended for numeric characters. Stopping alpha or special characters from being entered into the text box during the entry of card details or payment information will reduce finger error.

3. Mod 10 Luhn check

The Luhn algorithm or Luhn formula, also known as the “modulus 10″ or “mod 10″ algorithm, is a simple checksum formula used to authenticate a variety of identification numbers like credit card numbers. Most credit cards use the Luhn algorithm as a way to distinguish valid numbers from collections of random digits. Designed to detect accidental errors, this is a quick way to eliminate credit card number errors before a transaction is submitted to the payment gateway.

4. Expiry date

Make it clear to the card holder which box is for month and which is for year. This can be indicated by placing a label next to or above a text box or by making month/year a selection choice in a drop down menu. The recommended option is to enable selection of the expiration date using two separate dropdown lists: one for month and one for year. Ensure only to display current and future years.

5. Validating the CVV length

Visa, MasterCard and Diners use a three-digit CVV number placed on the back of the credit card. American Express uses a four digit number placed on the front of the credit card. Validate that the CVV code contains the correct number of digits based on the credit card type. To do this you will work with two parameters: the card number and its CVV number. The main card number is used to determine the associated account linked to the card. The first six digits of the main card number identify the card issuer, for example, American Express or MasterCard. If the card is issued by American Express, the code you will check for is 4 digits long. For all other cards, the CVV code has 3 digits. If the CVV entered by the card holder is too long or too short to match the card then you can prompt card holder to amend before proceeding.

6. 1Click payments

A 1Click Payment enables cardholders to only enter CVV after the initiated transaction. This simplifies the checkout experience and reduces the amount of data the cardholder is required to enter on the payment page. The payment gateway will tokenize the card holder’s details during the initial transaction so that the merchant does not store any card data. For subsequent transactions, the card holder is only required to enter their CVV to process the payment, making the checkout process easier. At any point, the card holder can amend card details, which will update the token with the new card information.

6 ways to increase sales and optimise your ecommerce payment page. Retrieved from http://ventureburn.com/2013/10/6-ways-to-increase-sales-and-optimise-your-ecommerce-payment-page/.

How to reduce cart abandonment for mobile device users

It’s a classic double-edged sword and one we’ve all probably wrestled with more than once: You need to make an unplanned business trip and you’re looking for a last-minute flight. You find a good deal online, and as you hastily proceed through the checkout, something goes wrong.

After typing in your name, address and credit card number, you mis-key a digit of your credit card number. The transaction doesn’t go through. The screen seems to yell at you. START OVER. You feel like yelling back.

You have to get to a meeting, so you close your browser and vow to revisit the process later or — worse — try booking the flight on another travel site.

Cart abandonment is a well-known problem for merchants trying to sell goods to online shoppers, and it is even more pronounced when the shopper is using a mobile device.

Travelocity was seeing far too much of it, so the online travel booking site turned to Jumio for a solution. Continue reading

A B2B e-commerce success story: Airgas

Game Plan B2B E-Commerce Forum in Chicago last week hosted a plethora of great keynotes and industry experts to talk all things e-commerce in the B2B space.

The attendees heard from Steve Max, director of e-Commerce at Airgas,  during a featured address with author and TV personality Mark Jeffries moderating.

Max discussed “The Airgas Story – Reinventing Your eBusiness: Platform, Operations and Organization.”

Through its subsidiaries, Airgas the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hard-goods, such as welding equipment and supplies. Airgas is also a leading U.S. producer of atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide, dry ice, and nitrous oxide, one of the largest U.S. distributors of safety products, and a leading U.S. distributor of refrigerants, ammonia products, and process chemicals.

It was insightful to get a peek into the Airgas customer base by market and how they sell gas online.

Airgas launched their first website in 1997 that resembled “brochure-ware” and in 2001 moved over to an e-commerce site.  Max stated that back in 2001 many folks thought e-commerce was “just a fad.”

“You say that now-a-days in a board room and you get kicked out,” said Max, when asked by Mark if he saw e-commerce as a solid career path.

B2C has set customers’ expectations for e-commerce. But for B2B, online procurement is just as important as online ordering.  Based on Max’s comments, his customers are telling him that, even more than being able to research and order online, they want to be able to complete the transactions with online (and even mobile) payments.

Companies need to ask themselves, “how does e-commerce fit into my overall brand?” before developing their strategies. After identifying what the e-commerce strategy is, then they need to find out what the customers really want out of it. The final step is bringing that strategic plan to management with a solid business case for making the investment.

E-commerce cannot be “siloed,” it must have an omni-channel focus. And as Max put it, “What is online cannot be too radical to what we do offline.”

A B2B e-commerce success story: Airgas, Retrieved from http://www.the-future-of-commerce.com/2013/10/11/airgas-ecommerce-success.