Emerald Business Systems Blog

Shoplifters? Studies Say Keep an Eye on Workers

Posted in POS,Retail,Security by ebs4pos on December 29, 2009

At the Saks flagship store in Manhattan, a 23-year-old sales clerk was caught recently ringing up $130,000 in false merchandise returns and siphoning the money onto a gift card.“Gift card fraud is spiking,” said Joshua Bamfield, author of the Global Retail Theft Barometer, an annual international survey of retailers. “To employees, this is like currency. It’s almost as good as the U.S. dollar.”After all, walking out with a little card in the wallet is a whole lot easier than lugging a big-screen TV out the rear of a store.

via Shoplifters? Studies Say Keep an Eye on Workers – NYTimes.com.


Crushing the Myth of B2B Social Media

Posted in General Business,Social Media Marketing by ebs4pos on December 28, 2009

In nearly every speech or Webinar I conduct, someone in the audience asks “But all this social media stuff doesn’t apply to B2B right?”Yes, social media applies to B2B. In fact, social media can be MORE transformative for a B2B company than a B2C company. This is because B2B has a smaller potential customer base, a higher average price point, and a customer decision funnel that is more influenced by word of mouth and reputation. Turning your customers into advocates and marketers on behalf of your brand pays off a lot more when you’re selling $10,000 pieces of manufacturing equipment, than it does when you’re selling $3 cans of Pringles.Are there differences between B2B and B2C in social media? Of course. But those differences are at the tactics layer, not the strategy layer. Creating and calibrating a social media strategy for any company should follow the same process. You need to determine why your company should be social, for whom your efforts are intended and where your audience is in the buying cycle, and how you’ll measure success. None of that is impacted in the slightest by whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses.I’ve asserted that B2B social media tactics vary from B2C, in that they are typically rooted in consumer education and thought leadership, and thus require deeper layers of interaction. Private brand communities vs. Facebook. Linkedin Groups vs. Twitter. Podcasts vs. YouTube.

via Crushing the Myth of B2B Social Media | | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Convert.

7 Ways to Clean Up Your Site For The New Year

Posted in General Business,Online Business by ebs4pos on December 25, 2009

I know we haven’t officially finished all the winter holidays yet, but they’re quickly on their way out. Sorry. That means it’s time to get your site ready for the New Year. Below is a checklist of some of the things you should be looking at as we ring the New Years bell and head into 2010. You don’t want to start 2010 off already looking out of style, do you? Your competitors won’t be.

via 7 Ways to Clean Up Your Site For The New Year | Small Business Trends.

Using Facebook and Twitter safely

Posted in General Business,Online Business,Security,Social Media Marketing by ebs4pos on December 24, 2009

You and just about everyone else, it seems, are spending more and more time on Facebook and Twitter, updating statuses and checking friends’ tweets. That’s all well and good, of course, but the amount of personal information that all of you share in real time, and the level of trust implicit with the social networking sites, do pose particular security and privacy problems.

A recent study from Sophos found that Facebook users reveal a lot of personal information to new friends, including ones they really don’t even know or have never met. Using fake profiles, Sophos sent out friend requests to 100 random Facebook users, and more than 40 percent blindly accepted, giving the company access to birth dates, e-mail addresses, phone number and addresses–private information strangers shouldn’t have.

The openness of Twitter–anyone can follow anyone else, and posts are indexed in search engines–makes it a nirvana for spammers. Kaspersky says there are nearly 500,000 new unique URLs that appear in Twitter posts daily, and of those, anywhere between 100 and 1,000 are malware attacks.

Here’s a look at some of the specific threats users of the sites face and what they can do about it.

via Using Facebook and Twitter safely | InSecurity Complex – CNET News.

Technology Review: Security in the Ether

Posted in General Business,Online Business,PCI,Security by ebs4pos on December 24, 2009

In 2006, when Amazon introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), it was a watershed event in the quest to transform computing into a ubiquitous utility, like electricity. Suddenly, anyone could scroll through an online menu, whip out a credit card, and hire as much computational horsepower as necessary, paying for it at a fixed rate: initially, 10 cents per hour to use Linux (and, starting in 2008, 12.5 cents per hour to use Windows). Those systems would run on “virtual machines” that could be created and configured in an instant, disappearing just as fast when no longer needed. As their needs grew, clients could simply put more quarters into the meters. Amazon would take care of hassles like maintaining the data center and network. The virtual machines would, of course, run inside real ones: the thousands of humming, blinking servers clustered in Amazon’s data centers around the world. The cloud computing service was efficient, cheap, and equally accessible to individuals, companies, research labs, and government agencies.

via Technology Review: Security in the Ether.

A Bank Idea, With Ancient Roots, for Helping Small Businesses

Posted in General Business by ebs4pos on December 24, 2009

To this day, Bart Mitchell is not entirely sure he knows what a merchant bank is. “I guess I think of it as the old-fashioned banker who takes the time to listen to his customer’s needs and help them solve their problems,” he said. Actually, that is not far off.  One thing he is certain about is that if not for Next Street, a four-year-old, 22-employee merchant bank with offices in Boston and New York, his development company would have been in big trouble.This year, in the teeth of the worst commercial real estate and lending crisis in a quarter century, Mitchell Properties managed to secure $5.7 million in long-term financing for an 84-unit condominium and retail complex in Boston’s mixed-income South End.The financing, arranged through U.S. Bank and a mind-numbingly complex public-private sector loan program known as the New Market Tax Credit, essentially retired $1.7 million of construction debt, shaving about $20,000 off the project’s monthly loan payments. For Mitchell Properties, it was probably the difference between surviving the recession relatively unscathed and contributing to the growing list of belly-up real estate projects.“I don’t know what we would have done,” Mr. Mitchell said. “In general, the projects that qualify for the program are much bigger than ours, but Next Street knew all the parties and was able to put the pieces together.”

via A Bank Idea, With Ancient Roots, for Helping Small Businesses – NYTimes.com.

“Press releases effective if done right”

Posted in General Business by ebs4pos on December 20, 2009

Question: Can you give me guidance on use of press releases?

Answer: Press releases can be a simple, effective publicity tool for your business. While you don’t have to be a public relations expert to create an effective release, a potentially newsworthy item may be overlooked if the release is poorly organized or doesn’t seem newsworthy.

News is information that is worth sharing. But the release must be about news, not just a sales pitch. Imagine you are a reader (or editor) with little or no familiarity with your business. Think about what might appeal to you. Some things are obvious, such as a new location, an expansion or a big contract that allows your company to hire new employees during a recession. Other interesting items can be created.

Some media outlets might use helpful hints you can offer, based on your business expertise. If you’re an accountant, for example, a list of tips for getting organized at income tax time may be useful. Gift shop owners can prepare a list of innovative ideas for specific holidays, or acceptable items to send service personnel overseas. Even media outlets that don’t use this type of information sometimes keep it on file for use in a larger story, or put you in their file of potential sources for future stories.

via Business: Home | “Press releases effective if done right” | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Operationalize Social Media

Posted in General Business,Online Business,Social Media Marketing by ebs4pos on December 20, 2009

Marketing has changed a lot since an enterprising caveman promoted his arrow points as “superior in every way – mammoths don’t stand a chance.” But, the real-time Web will change marketing more in 24 months than in the proceeding 20,000 years.

That’s because the real-time Web and its social media gasoline fundamentally change the relationship between company and customer. Every marketing shift heretofore has been rooted in the company being able to reach its customer in a more impactful (TV) or more efficient (demographics and psychographics) fashion.

Now, however, the taxonomy of war that defined marketing (targeting, flight, impact) is an anachronism. Campaigns are eroding. In this real-time epoch, every interaction with a customer or prospect is a separate, fluid, and potentially critical marketing initiative.

The balance of power has moved, inexorably and forever, from the company to the customer. When a real-time meme can erode brand trust that has taken years or decades to establish, we as marketers are no longer in control of the asylum.

The good news is that many brands have chosen to embrace the real-time Web and social media as a groundbreaking way to foster customer kinship with the brand, rather than trying to ignore or squelch consumers’ newfound power.

via 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Operationalize Social Media | | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Convert.

PCI Compliance and Franchising

Posted in PCI,Restaurant by ebs4pos on December 20, 2009

There was post recently on the SPSP Forum regarding the lack of information on franchise operations and PCI compliance. Since I have been searching for a topic to write on, I thought I would take up this topic.

The PCI DSS has only one reference to franchises and that is on page 7. The reference on page 7 is only in regards to sampling. During our first year of QSA training, we were told that PCI compliance in a franchise environment is controlled by the operational relationship between the franchiser (the organization that licenses the concept) and the franchisee (the organization that executes the retail concept). Franchisees typically maintain their own merchant accounts and have their own contracts with an acquiring bank. For PCI compliance purposes, most franchisees are independent from their franchiser and therefore, the franchisee is responsible for their PCI compliance and any document filing.

At their simplest, franchisees use “knuckle busters” and stand-alone terminals. In these instances, the franchisee can fill out and file a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) B. Other franchisees, such as those in the fast food industry have purchased un-customized integrated point of sale (POS) with a network at the restaurant. These sorts of installations typically meet the requirements for SAQ C.

via PCI Compliance and Franchising « PCI Guru.

Attack Of The RAM Scrapers

Posted in PCI,POS,Restaurant by ebs4pos on December 20, 2009

The inclusion of RAM scrapers in a recent Verizon Business list of the top data breach attack vectors has prompted a bit of buzz about what exactly RAM scraping is and how much of a threat it poses.

A RAM scraper as identified in the Verizon Business Data Breach Investigation report is a piece of customized malware created to grab credit card, PIN, and other confidential information out of a system’s volatile memory. The RAM-scraping breaches in Verizon’s report occurred in point-of-sale (POS) servers.

RAM scraping is not really what’s new, but what Verizon flagged as the emergent threat trend is RAM scraping in POS devices.

via Attack Of The RAM Scrapers – DarkReading.

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