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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

6 Steps to Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online This Upcoming Holiday Season

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It’s holiday season again and I’m sure people are already starting to shop for gifts. If you’re buying online, check out these 6 tips to help you out and increase your chances of having a “safe” shopping experience:

  1. Research the company. Who are the owners? Is it a successful businesswoman from Texas or a teenager living in China? Take a few minutes and check out on the website who is actually behind the business and who operates the website.  Click to the “About Us” page or “Contact Us” page and see if there are some actual names listed on the website.  Then drop some of those names quickly into Google or Bing and search on those names.  What comes up about them?
  2. Find out where their servers are located. Are they based in France, but have a server in Ohio? (You’re probably alright with a company like this) or are they based in England and have a server in Somalia (this should send up a red flag.)  Also, make sure to check out where their website is hosted. Here is a great tool to use to look up domain owners here. It is called Domain Tools. I use it all the time when I am shopping.
  3. Check their website thoroughly. Is there anything in their wording that seems fishy? Are there typos on the website or does the footer of the website say copyright 2002? Does calling that phone number give you someone asking for your pizza order? Confirm that the business is legitimate before buying that scarf for Aunt Joan. Perhaps this post on how to make online websites look credible will help you see what to look for when you are reviewing the four corners of an online store or service business?
  4. Is the business on any Social Networks? Being on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can show that a company is willing to have some transparency when dealing with customers. What type of personality does the business have online? Does it come off as a company that you don’t want to do business with?  Check their Twitter stream or Facebook page and see do they respond to customers or is there just a username set up and just “dead air.”  If you see some level of engagement, that is a good sign.
  5. What are people saying about the businessonline? Most companies will have some type of reviews of them online.  What are people saying about them in these reviews? How about their products, customer service and delivery times?  Can you really trust those reviews? If the reviews sound fake, you might want to check into the company a bit more. Remember our post on how to spot fake reviews? It’ll help!
  6. Do they have a trust seal or an ssl certificate? When you are reviewing a website you are about to buy from check out whether they have an SSL certificate meaning that your communications of your credit card information is encrypted from your browser to the company’s browser.  Also look to see if the business has any trust seals and in particular click on those trust seals and see what they say about the business.  The sites that have trust seals that actually give you more information about the business management team, their track record of financial health and information on customer service, return and privacy policies will give you even more transparency into who you are buying from over this holiday season.

Good luck and stay safe when shopping online!  Also let us know if you have any safe shopping tips.

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part II

Friday, June 17th, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I highlighted the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. If you missed Part I, click here.

In Part II, I will present five of the most important challenges faced by these small businesses that our interviewees shared with us. These issues are extremely pertinent to all small businesses and it is vital for small businesses to overcome these challenges in order to succeed.

Here we go, the five most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs and their small businesses:

5. Keeping Up with New Technologies

“As the cost of running business with a physical store or office is comparatively high due to the monthly rental fee as well as the consumption of electricity and the hiring of manpower, more and more businesses like us tend to create their presence on the Internet. Without a significant competitive advantage, a retailer will be forced to raise a white flag in this cruel and heartless battlefield.” – Margaret Chan, founder of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery

In today’s world, technology is rapidly changing and businesses must keep up with latest innovations in order to stay modern and be successful. Companies have to start utilizing the internet, for both its e-commerce capability as well as a marketing and advertising tool. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are essential to small businesses, as millions of users check and use their personal accounts on those websites multiple times each day.

4. Lacking Adaptability

“While it is important to hold on to your vision, it should never be at the expense of building a sustainable business model. Your business plan whether it is one page or fifty, should be an evolving document that scales to put you in the best possible position to serve your clients and generate revenue.” – Tai Goodwin, founder of Launch While Working

Another challenge entrepreneurs also face is the ineptitude to alter or adjust your business plan. The business world is full of surprises and unexpected circumstances.  In order to run a successful company, businesses must be flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment around them.

3. Fear of Failure

“Another challenge I had was more of a mental one, which was the fear of ‘Can I start my own business?’ There are so many company decisions that we take for granted until we have to make them ourselves.” – Gregg Hand, founder and owner of Hand Law Offices

Two weeks ago I mentioned how the number one piece of advice for having success as a small business is keeping the long-term goal in perspective and never giving up or losing hope. Therefore, one of the challenges faced with starting a small business is dealing with the fear of failure. You cannot be afraid that you’re going to fail and act hesitantly because then you will fail; you must be confident with all of your decisions and maintain the passion with which you started your business. Owen Wilson’s character in Wedding Crashers puts it best when talking to his partner, “Your goddamn negativity! I don’t need it! I’m an idea man. I thrive on enthusiasm. Don’t take the wind out of my sails. I need you.”

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2. Finding Customers

1. … and then Gaining their Trust

As a small business I believe our biggest challenge is gaining trust in a potential new customer.  If a shopper sees a Macys logo or a Best Buy logo they are not going to question is this a secure company/site.  As a brand that is growing, we are not mainstream and are years away from becoming a staple in the beauty industry.  We overcome that challenge by gaining one new customer at a time.  Proving to that customer we are legitimate business, that is not going to sell their name to any third parties, is going to ship their order, their most private and intimate information is in a very secure area, and if there is any problems whatsoever with their order we will do everything we can to correct it and make it right.” – Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store

In order to be successful, you must generate revenue from customers and unless you develop a brand-new product or have a revolutionary idea, you are most likely going to enter into an industry that already has a fair share of other competitors. There lies the biggest challenge of small businesses: finding customers and then keeping them. Finding customers as a small business relies on effective networking and marketing, and especially positive word of mouth. Whether it is online or in newspapers, spreading your name and attracting publicity is a must for businesses to find customers. In addition, promoting your credibility and trustworthiness is a necessity to ensure that once you land a customer, he or she will return.

This is the service that we here at Kikscore provide for online businesses. We show your potential customers that you can be trusted, allowing shoppers to review your record of reliability and creditworthiness through the Kikscore Trust Seal and the KikReport. After overcoming all these obstacles, you’ll be “so money”. More information regarding Kikscore and its trust seal can be found at http://www.kikscore.com/more.html and http://www.kikscore.com/confidence_badge.html respectively.

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part I

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I will highlight the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. Many of these innovative and impressive business owners shared related advice and acknowledged similar trends in the e-commerce field. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 Things You Should Do When Starting a Small Business:

5. Keep your website simple and easy to navigate

- “My advice to people about an online presence is to keep it simple and clean and VERY easy to navigate AND to have a Content Management System (CMS) so you can update your site yourself.” (Whitney Zimet, owner of I Am The Maven)

- “Spend the money to get a good website.  We went with a woman who did “websites for small businesses” but she really wasn’t experienced in sites with a retail/shopping cart component.  So, the site looked okay on the surface, but I later learned that she had used very amateur programming on the back end, making it enormously difficult for another web programmer to make changes.  This also limited our SEO.” (Kimberley Stewart from OnBoard Outfitters)

4. Have a flexible business model, being able to adjust quickly to a changing environment

- “Never think what you’re doing today is what you’ll be doing 10 years from today. Markets change and products evolve. Learn to adapt quickly.” (Michael Alter, President of SurePayroll)

- ”Be willing to change.  Always look at your business in a new way.” (Rick Shoop, owner of Oregon Seafoods)

3. Utilize social media outlets

-”Another trend is tapping into more social media platforms and applications.  Combining sites such as Facebook with applications developed by Wildfire you are very quickly able to promote coupons, contests, and/or sweepstakes.” (Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store)

- “Take full advantage of all social network and free Internet advertising. 50% of our sales come from social networking sites, the chain reaction you can achieve from them is priceless.” (S.J. Trotter, owner of www.exclusiveclothingretail.com)

2. Establish a safe and secure online presence

- “Apart from that, customer’s satisfaction is also of utmost importance to online business. Exceptional customer service results in greater customer retention, which in turn results in higher profitability. We therefore strongly believe that customer loyalty is one of the most crucial and major contributors to sustainable profit growth. Over 60% of our profits are from customers who came back and made their purchases more than once within the 3-month period.” (Margaret Chan, owner of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery)

- “In 2010, much of our energy will be focused on improving the website and making sure our customers have confidence in shopping with us. KikScore is a great tool that helps us demonstrate that trust online.” (Madalyn Duerr, owner of Tufted Topper)

1. Keep the long-term goal in perspective and never give up

- “Most importantly: Don’t let anyone tell you no. You are your own best advocate and no one is going to do the work for you. Don’t let obstacles prevent your idea from ever being tested – you have to go out and do it.” (Andrew Shelton from Trackpack Coolers)

- ”In my opinion the most important ingredient in a business’s success is the passion of the person or people running it.” (Mark Sarpa, CEO of Frecklebox)

- “Stay far from timid, Only make moves when your heart’s in it, And live the phrase ‘sky’s the limit’” (The Notorious B.I.G.)

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

Hackers: They’re back and are coming to get you! Steps to Fight Back

Monday, January 31st, 2011

What’s back? Hacker’s toolkits! There are new hacker’s toolkits out there that are user friendly. So, your computer could be in danger from any number of foes. It could be the kid next door, the person sitting across the table in Starbucks, some computer geek in an internet cafe in India. How do we know this? Symantec released a new report about this. These toolkits are priced anywhere from $40 to $40,000.

So, what exactly do these toolkits do?  They let people who have a little knowledge of coding to design malware to hack your computer. The big difference between these toolkits and the original ones is that these new toolkits use many different attack vectors. With the old toolkits, once you knew the software patch, the malware couldn’t get in. The toolkits exploit the vulnerabilities in a computer. Usually the malware gets in through the web browser and its plug-ins.

Then, the software usually installs a keylogger which steals things like online passwords and turn computers into zombies who infect other computers. Why through the web browser? Since most of the major software holes have been patched up, it has become harder to get malware onto a computer.Signs show that these toolkits are pretty effective. According to PC World, $70 million was stolen from bank accounts using the hacking toolkit Zeus. Plus these kits are often like regular software. They get constant updates, so they have the newest and most potent version of malware.  These toolkits are also attacking multiple software at once, so chances are that one application may be unprotected and the attack is more likely to succeed.

So, what can be done to protect your computer from these threats? Just the usual of keeping all of your system software, virus definitions, etc.. You also shouldn’t use Internet Explorer, but Firefox and Chrome are targets too. [The article didn't mention anything about Opera though.] You can switch to Linux, but it takes a while to get used to. [I haven't used Linux, so I don't have an idea of how different it is. All I know is that it's different.] You can also install a browser extension, such as FlashBlock(For both Firefox and Chrome), that’ll block any flash code on a website unless you opt to let it run.(YouTube is whitelisted.) Also make sure you’re using a reputable brand of antivirus softarware.

So what do you do to protect your computer from these threats and what do you think about these toolkits?

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

The turtle and the hare-revised! A cyber security fable

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Hello, everyone! How is your week going? Any of you SIS-U folks reading this? Yes? Great! Hi there!*waves* So,you’ve all heard about security problems on the internet and are probably going to click away from this post because you think it’ll rehash what has already been said. Well…you’re partly right, but only because it deserves rehashing, and you’re partly wrong. Did any other blog post give you the lesson in fable form? Yes? (Really? Where?). It all started when I read this post about experts urging people to ‘Stop. Think. Connect.’ I saw the word stop and immediately thought of turtles. [I think I had my university mascot on the brain.] Turtles move through life slowly, which is how we should move through the internet. (I wonder what this says about my university then)So, then I thought about updating the old turtle and hare fable for the modern internet age.(This fable dates back to the days when there was no copyright.)Everyone know how the original story went? Yes? Good for you, but you have to suspend that little bit of knowledge because this update is completely different!(Disclaimer: I did not reread the original version before I wrote this and it has been a while since I read the original) On to the story!

Once upon a time(all good stories start out this way) there was a large(very large) kingdom called Cybertopia (fanfare). Since this kingdom was very big, it was besieged by a vicious army of bots, viruses and malware out to steal it’s citizens identity and wealth.(cue the danger music)[from now on referred to as the BVM]{this would be easier if WordPress had a footnote button} Since Cybertopia’s citizens kept falling for the BVM’s tricks, the Cybertopian police decided to train a special division to educate the citizens about the BVM.(cue happy music!) Two of the most promising officers of the new division were  Rabbit and  Turtle. Today was the day of their obstacle course.

“All right recruits! The BVM has it in fer ya. They’ll set up traps, like the ones in this here obstacle course and it’s your job not to fall for them,” Sargent Monkey yelled.

“Yes,sir,” the recruits replied.

“Alright,” St. Monkey took out a list, ” the first one up is recruit number 55. Rabbit, yer up!” Rabbit stood on the starting line and waited for the signal. (ready, set, go!) Once he heard it, he was off and running. Rabbit raced through the obstacle course easily. He ignored the ads, dodged the bot’s lasers and smashed through the malware puzzles as if they were tissue paper. Rabbit was nearing the end of the course when he saw this billboard:

I Finally got a signal on the AT&T Network!!!!Click here to find out how I did it!

Wow,Rabbit thought, I should check that out! I have AT&T and I never get a signal! So Rabbit touched the billboard. Immediately a wormhole opened up, sucked Rabbit in and deposited him near St. Monkey.

“You fail,” St.Monkey hollered, “since you were in a rush, you failed to notice the trap! You’re going to have to take this course again! Turtle, yer up.” Unlike Rabbit, Turtle took the obstacle course very slowly. He ignored the ads, was too slow for the bot’s lasers to hit him and made the malware puzzles explode out of sheer frustration.  Turtle was the nearing the end of the course, when another ad popped up. Turtle looked at it for a few seconds, then shook his head and moved on.

“Congratulations,” St. Monkey said, ” because you took things nice and slow, you avoided the traps. You pass the course!” So, Turtle got his badge, while Rabbit had to retake the course. The moral of this story, slow down when you are on the web. Things that may look tempting, may harm you.

Contest!!!

If you can guess the show this picture is from( the logo on the bottom right gives you a hint) you get a landscape drawn by me! You can request scenes of course( as long as they don’t involve people or too complicated to draw animals, because I cannot draw them) and I will try my best to draw it the way you want it.

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

The Importance of Security in Online Payments

Friday, August 13th, 2010

As more and more fraud occurs in e-commerce, it is ever more important to provide secure payments for your customers. There are some things you can add to your website that will provide extra layers of security for your customers. You can use “https protocol” and “3-D secure protocol”. Also the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has implemented strict standards (PCI Data Security Standard) for merchants that accept credit cards online. In the next sections, all of these types of security options will be explained.

HTTPS Protocol

Normally the website operates under a normal hypertext transfer protocol (http), but with https (hypertext transfer protocol secure), sensitive data that passes through the seemingly insecure network (http) will be protected by an added security socket layer (SSL). HTTPS has been approved by many certificate authorities, so it is a widely accepted security layer for online payments.

3-D Secure Protocol

3-D secure protocol is a form of virtual payer identification. The basic concept behind it is verifying 3 domains. Thus, the name 3-D. The first domain name to be verified is the acquirer domain. The acquirer domain consists of the merchant and bank to which money is being given to. The second is the issuer domain. This is the bank that issued the card being used. The third and final domain to be verified is the interoperability domain. This is the infrastructure provided by the credit card scheme to support the 3-D secure protocol. This is possibly one of the safest ways to accept payments on your website.  

PCI Data Security Standard

Merchants of all sizes have to abide by the PCI DSS’s rules in order to be able to accept credit cards. The PCI Data Security Standard was implemented in 2004 and has been updated several times since then to keep up with technological advances. Companies like North American Bancard specifically say that they offer internet merchant accounts that provide PCI compliant payment experiences. So it is not all on the merchant, since merchant account providers are there to consult and assist merchants with abiding by these rules. The main objectives for the standard is are to create a universal environment where payments are safe and to be able to identify cyber criminals more easily because of these standards.

As more and more people buy online, cyber crime will increase unless merchants become educated about securing data on their websites.

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

Sometimes the Best Security is Common Sense

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

This past weekend I spent a lot of time online researching software.  Sounds pretty uneventful (even a bit nerdy).  But unfortunately, I was doing the research after I purchased it and attempted to load it on my computer.  At that point McAfee warned me that many users have indicated that the software (that I paid $70 for) was malware/spyware.  Then and only then did I have the bright idea to research the service.  Wouldn’t you know it, I just paid $70 to infect my home computer.  I’m not stupid (not always), so why did I do this?  Because a friend recommended the software — and he seemed savvy, so I blindly bought without researching the service or the company. 

A recent posting by PC World shows that I’m not alone.  Routinely consumers share sensitive personal information on social media sites, in blog posts and responding to phishing scams.  In fact almost 40% of surveyed users indicated that they have posted their full birth dates (including year) on a social media site.  At the same time I bet most of these people shred their bills and sensitive mail.  Why even bother…you’re basically emailing fraudsters the keys to your house when you provide personal identifying information online.  In fact, that’s happened too, where people have been robbed by FaceBook “friends” after indicating that they are going on vacation. 

Without revealing any sensitive information about yourself, please share any unintentional disclosures you have made online.

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Posts Tagged ‘Online Security’

Online Shopping & Security Tips from CrunchGear's John Biggs

Friday, April 16th, 2010

This is an excellent four minute video that KikScore recommends for both the small business community and online shoppers on tips to stay safe online.  The video features the author of Black Hat: Misfits, Criminals, and Scammers in the Internet Age, John Biggs.  In the video, John covers steps for staying safe when sharing data and information about yourself online, interacting on social networking sites, buying online and accessing the internet outside of your home. He has a lot of good guidance in the video including his rule to live by that you should not say or share information online that you would not be comfortable sharing in a crowded room.

Take a look, it is a good video.

Please tell us what you think about the tips John Biggs provided in the video in the comments section below.

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