PCI Compliance For Your Web Store

December 16, 2014

PCI (Payment Card Industry) security standards are a set of guidelines aimed towards protecting the personal information as well as confirming security at the time of online transactions using a credit or debit card. If you are in an online retail business you might be involved in financial transactions over the internet. Such dealings are susceptible to a lot of malicious attacks posing a threat for penalties, lost revenue and even credit card breaches.

Whether you have a small or large web store, being PCI compliant is necessary to ensure security for customer related information while processing payments or while handling their data. An autonomous body named PCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) was created by the leading credit card brands MasterCard, Visa, JCB, Discover and American Express to administer and manage the PCI DSS (Data Security Standards).

How to be PCI compliant?

There are 5 standards that must be met for a web store to be PCI compliant:

  • Maintain Secure Network: Businesses must ensure that the systems used to store customer data is protected with a firewall. Also, reasonable measures should be taken to safeguard the network to which the servers are connected.
  • Protect Cardholder Data: The personal data of the cardholder should not be accessible to everyone. The credit card numbers must be stored in an encrypted form so that even if someone breaches the database, he would not be able to decode the information.
  • Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program: Keeping your server software, hardware and operating systems updated is another important measure to be compliant with PCI standards.
  • Implement Strict Access Control: Web store owners must assign a unique identification number to each person who has access to the cardholder data. This access should also be provided only to a limited number of employees who need to use it.
  • Regularly Test Networks: The network security processes and measures should be regularly scanned, tracked and monitored to detect any potential security issues. Issues detected should be fixed on priority.

Benefits of Being PCI Compliant:

  • Merchants can protect themselves against heavy fines by preventing data breach.
  • PCI compliant web stores are trusted by the customers. Thus, it helps to increase their business.
  • Being PCI Complaint helps to protect the reputation and credibility of an online retailer.
  • PCI compliance can help online businesses become more secure by decreasing vulnerability to network attacks.
  • Keeping the above benefits in mind, it is important that the web stores should make sure they comply with the security standards of PCI.

We at Centex Technologies provide complete security solution to our clients. For more information, call us at – (855) 375-9654

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Online Marketing Tips For Christmas 2014

December 10, 2014

With Christmas fast approaching, online businesses are gearing up for boom in sales and number of visitors. While most of the businesses are planning to woo their customers by giving out attractive deals, it is equally important to target new customers through a well-planned marketing approach.

Here are some of the marketing tips that must be followed by the online businesses to capitalize during the Christmas season in 2014:

  • Give a Christmas makeover to your website: As Christmas denotes happiness and holidays, your website should not look boring and unadorned in this merry season. Give a complete makeover to it by using different colors and Christmas based design/ banners. You can also go for a customized theme that perfectly describes your website’s focus for this Christmas.
  • Make your website responsive: Majority of people use mobile phones to access the internet. Thus, it is extremely important for online businesses to opt for a responsive website design that can automatically adjust itself to any screen size. This will make it easier for the users to browse and view the products even on a smaller device.
  • De-clutter your home page: Your website’s home page is the first thing that a viewer sees and it can either attract or repel the users. Make sure that you replace all the expired offers and sold out products with fresh and attractive Christmas gifts and goodies. Give your website a neat layout with simple paths to the products and offers. Add categories and sub-categories so that the visitors can easily search for what they want.
  • Use Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are some of the most effective online marketing tools. Many consumers turn to these social networking websites to look for recommendations and reviews of other people. You should make sure that you maintain an active business page that promotes your unique products, discounts, coupons and offers that attracts buyers.
  • SEO: You must modify your SEO plan according to the searches relevant to Christmas. For instance, consider using keyword like ‘Christmas deals’, ‘cheap Christmas gifts’, ‘Xmas gifts for him/her’ in your website content. Optimize your website content as well as product descriptions according to the targeted keywords. This will help you get a higher ranking of your website for Christmas related search terms.

Using the above given tips can definitely help you increase you return on investment (ROI) this Christmas.

We at Centex Technologies provide complete Online Marketing solutions for businesses. For more information on our customized SEO and Internet Marketing plans, please call us at – (855) 375-9654

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Types And Sources Of Computer Network Security Threats

November 28, 2014

With advancement in technology, Computer networks have made changed the way we used to work. However there are a number of threats that can breach the security of the system and allow illegal access to important information that can be used for malicious purposes. Some of the possible attacks are:

Denial Of Service (DoS) Attacks

These are probably one of the vilest attacks that are extremely difficult to resolve. A denial of service attack is a malevolent effort to make a network resource or a server inaccessible by the users. This is usually done by temporarily suspending or interrupting the services of the host linked to the Internet. You should make sure that you employ packet filtering in order to restrict the entry of forged traffic to your network space. You must also keep yourself updated about the recent patches available to ensure your security from malicious attacks.

Illicit Execution of Commands

This threat involves an unidentified person executing various commands from your server. Depending upon its severity, this threat can be categorized under normal user access (where the unidentified source is executing commands to only access data on systems) to administrator access (where unknown user makes or attempts to make system configuration changes).

Unauthorized Access

This is a comprehensive term used to denote a number of network security threats. The purpose of these attacks is to access the information from a computer or network source that your device is programmed not to provide to the attacker. You should make sure that you set up an alert to be informed whenever someone is trying to make an unauthorized access. Many systems are also programmed to lock an account after a set number of unsuccessful login attempts.

Confidentiality Breaches

This involves gaining access of confidential and private data by the hackers. This may include trade secrets, credit card numbers, financial statements, secret formulas, patents etc. Such information, if slipped into the hands of a malicious user, can severely harm you on a personal or professional level.

Destructive Behavior

Destructive attacks may be categorized as:

  • Data Destruction: This involves deleting or destroying the data stored on your network or hard disk drive so that it becomes completely unreadable and unusable for you.
  • Data Diddling: It occurs when a hacker modifies the important information before or at the time of entering it into the device.  These may include counterfeiting or forging documents, changing details of online financial transactions etc.

These network security attacks can come up either from physical access, Internet or dial-up modems. You should make sure that you follow all the important steps to protect yourself from such vulnerabilities.

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Top 10 Network Security Threats

November 24, 2014

There are a number of security systems available that can help you protect your computer network from unauthorized access. However, there are a number of internal vulnerabilities, which are not commonly considered to be a threat, but have the potential to seriously infect your system.

Some of the common network security threats are:

  1. USB Drives: These are one of the most common means of infecting a network. USB drives are small, inexpensive devices that can be used to share data between computers. Once a system is connected with a USB drive, most operating systems allow automatic running of programs, even the malicious ones.
  2. Laptops and Netbooks: Laptops and Netbooks of people outside the company, if connected to company’s computer network can also transmit codes that can hamper the security of a network. These portable devices may also have many system codes running at the back end to search for and infect internal networks. These malicious programs can also provide an easy access to a company’s important information like salaries, phone numbers, addresses, medical records, employee passwords etc.
  3. Wireless Access Points: These provide immediate access to the network to any user within the network range. With security vulnerability in wireless access points, hackers can penetrate a computer system to get hold of confidential information. Most of the wireless AP protocols such as WPA and WPA2 are susceptible to attacks if strong passwords are not used.
  4. Miscellaneous USB Devices: Apart from USB drives, many other devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players, scanners, printers, fax machines etc. also pose a threat to the security of a network by transferring infected files from one system to another.
  5. Employees Borrowing Others’ Machines or Devices: Borrowing or sharing devices within the office can also cause an employee to inadvertently access restricted areas of the network. Thus, it is important that the passwords are strong and frequently changed.
  6. The Trojan Human: These are attackers who enter the websites in the camouflage of an employee or a contractor. These types of swindlers are capable of gaining access to the secure area of the network, including the server room.
  7. Optical Media: Just like the USB devices, optical media such as CDs or DVDs can also be used as a source of network infection. Once installed and run on a system, these portable storage devices can steal and disclose confidential data to other public networks.
  8. Lack of Employee Alertness: Besides the intimidations from digital technology, the capacity of human mind to store information also poses a major threat to a network’s security. Employees should be alert to note who is around them when they log on to their system or while reading confidential documents in public places.
  9. Smartphones: Today, phones are no less than mini-computers having the capacity to perform complex tasks. Hence, smartphones also pose the same security threat as a laptop, netbook or US devices.
  10. E-mail: Emails are commonly used to communicate, send and receive files within the business networks. However, this facility can often be misused for malicious purposes. Confidential messages can certainly be sent to any outside target and many viruses can be transferred through emails.

Make sure you keep a note of all these potential threats and take the necessary steps to prevent your internal network from getting infected.

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Google Algorithm Changes & Website Optimization

November 15, 2014

Search engine optimization techniques have undergone massive alterations in the last few years resulting in clearing out of low value and spam websites from Google rankings. This has also brought changes in website optimization strategies by putting more emphasis on quality and meaningful content rather than just focusing on links.

Regular Google updates in recent years have kept SEO companies on toes to quickly adapt and modify their strategies. Keeping in line with the recent Google’s algorithm updates, here are some of the important tips that can help you effectively optimize your website for local businesses:

  • Avoid content duplication: Content is likely to be even more important part of a successful SEO plan. This is the only thing that distinguishes your website from that of other local businesses. To reward your website with a higher ranking, the search engines need to know what your business is all about. Make sure you post informative content, giving the details about your products or services, on each and every page of your website.
  • No keyword spamming: In past, stuffing content with keywords has been one of the favorite tactics of black hat SEOs, but now search engine algorithms are smart enough to detect keyword spamming  and penalize the websites indulging in that. This makes it important to have well written content on the website that utilizes keywords in an effective way.
  • Use relevant title tags: You should not stuff keywords in your title tag. Instead, add some of them that can perfectly describe your business. The title tag should give a complete summary of what a particular page is about.
  • Target local audiences: In order to make your website rank higher in Google’s local searches, you should try to make a wise use of the name of your city and state in your title tag, H1 heading, content, alt text on images as well as URL. Even if you are planning to change your URL, remember to use the 301 redirects so that the initial address automatically takes the user to the new one.

All these tactics will help you achieve your ultimate goal, i.e., to improve the credibility of your business among the local audience.

For more information on tips on Search Engine Optimization, call us at (855) 375-9654

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