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Industry News - September 24th 2010



The End of Credit Card Dominance?

According to a recent article from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, AT&T and Verizon are about to throw the dice in a bet that will put billions of dollars on the line. The companies, the two largest mobile phone operators in the United States, are expected to launch a pilot program to see whether their customers are ready to trade credit cards for smartphones equipped with similar swipe technology for making purchases. But will Americans want to put aside their comfortable relationship with plastic credit cards? And can they overcome security concerns about adopting a new payment system? Industry experts weigh in.In the coming months, some American consumers will embark on an experiment that will finally begin to answer a question with multibillion-dollar implications for the nation's credit-card companies, mobile-phone carriers and tens of thousands of merchants doing business from coast-to-coast.

Will U.S. shoppers embrace the chance to make store purchases with a simple swipe of their smartphones? Such a system would eliminate the need to carry plastic credit cards and would accelerate the evolution of the mobile phone into an all-purpose device useful not only for talking, reading e-mail and listening to music, but also for handling financial transactions.

Yet, U.S. consumers have historically lagged well behind their counterparts in Asia, Scandinavia and elsewhere in adopting new uses for mobile devices. Many see the concept of one-swipe smartphone shopping as a potential security nightmare, a bad dream littered with such goblins as lost or stolen phones, erroneous charges, and invasions of privacy, courtesy of aggressive retailers.

Read the full article.


FTC Testifies on Data Security Legislation

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday told a Senate Subcommittee that it supports proposed legislation that would require many companies to use reasonable data security policies and procedures and require those companies to notify consumers when there is a security breach.In testimony before the Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, Maneesha Mithal, associate director for privacy and identity protection at the FTC told the Subcommittee that problems with data security and breaches affect a wide array of both businesses and nonprofit organizations. "Requiring reasonable security policies and procedures of this broad array of entities is a goal that the Commission strongly supports."

"The Commission believes that notification in appropriate circumstances can be beneficial," the testimony notes. Many states have passed notification laws that have increased public awareness of the harm breaches can cause. "Breach notification at the federal level would extend notification nationwide and accomplish similar goals." 

Top measures
The testimony states that the agency suggests three additional measures that could be included in the proposed legislation to protect consumers. First, the provision that requires that companies notify consumers in the event of an information security breach should not be limited to entities that possess data in electronic form; second, the proposed requirements should be extended so that they apply to telephone companies; and third, the Commission suggests that the bill grant the agency rulemaking authority to determine circumstances under which providing free credit reports or credit monitoring may not be warranted.

The testimony says that as the nation's consumer protection agency, the FTC has a history of protecting consumer privacy and promoting data security in the private sector. "Data security is of critical importance to consumers. If companies do not protect the personal information that they collect and store, that information could fall into the wrong hands, resulting in fraud and other harm. . . . Accordingly, the Commission has undertaken substantial efforts to promote data security in the private sector through law enforcement, education, and policy initiatives."

According to the testimony, since 2001, the Commission has brought 29 cases against businesses that allegedly failed to protect consumers' personal information. The cases provide key lessons in the data security area. They include:

  • Businesses that make claims about data security should be sure that they are accurate.
  • Businesses should protect against well-known, common technology threats.
  • Businesses must know with whom they are sharing customers' sensitive information.
  • Businesses should not retain sensitive consumer information that they do not need.
  • Businesses should dispose of sensitive consumer information properly.

The testimony notes that the FTC promotes better data security practices through extensive consumer and business education. It maintains a website, OnGuard Online, to educate consumers about computer security, and more than 10 million copies of two publications for victims of identity theft have been distributed. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service – in cooperation with the FTC – has sent copies of the Commission's identity theft consumer education materials to more than 146 million residences and businesses.

The FTC also has taken up data security as a policy matter. Over the past several months, it has convened three public roundtables to explore consumer privacy. Panelists at the roundtables repeatedly noted the importance of data security in protecting privacy, the testimony states. The agency expects to issue a report later this year on privacy. "Among other things, the report will encourage companies to incorporate sound data security and data retention practices into their business models in a reasonable and cost-effective way," the testimony states.

The Commission vote to approve the testimony was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.


Philadelphia's First Casino to Open with Micros POS Solutions

Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino will go live with MICROS Simphony and MICROS' newest point of sale hardware, the Workstation 5A, in September 2010. Collectively, the partners of the management group, SugarHouse HSP Gaming, bring more than 100 years of development and community experience to the casino project and are utilizing MICROS in two other locations.SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia's first and only casino, will offer a mix of table games, slots, restaurants, and lounges all under one roof. In order to manage effectively its vast casino business operations, the premier gaming and entertainment destination requires a proven and reliable solution. Simphony combines an enterprise environment with advanced technologies, robust reporting features, and reliable service and support to make even the most complex casino operations run smoothly. SugarHouse Casino will utilize the new MICROS Workstation 5A point of sale hardware, which elevates the performance and configurability of the industry leading Workstation 5 with a complete technology refresh and improved performance and functionality. SugarHouse Casino requires a complete, flexible casino point of sale solution that will evolve as its business expands and help to drive profits.  

"We have been thoroughly impressed with MICROS's newest technology," says Randi Beck, vice president of operations, SugarHouse Casino. "We are confident MICROS's hospitality solutions will deliver the critical functions required here at SugarHouse Casino."



Profitable Pizzas: National, Local Chains Benefit from Online Ordering

When Dayton customers get a craving for a Domino's pizza, picking up the phone isn't their only option anymore. Many now get on their computers or flip open their smart phones and opt for online ordering, writes Tom Demeropolis, senior reporter for the Dayton Business Journal.Tristan Koehler, the franchisee for 19 Domino's restaurants in the Dayton area, said ordering online is the wave of the future.

Domino's Web site has a unique "pizza builder" that lets the customer see exactly what their pizza will look like. Koehler said the ease of using the site is the reason why he believes online orders will continue to grow.

"Once a customer orders online, they always order online," he said.

Since launching last August, Koehler said online ordering now accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of all orders.

Dominos is far from alone in going to the Web. Restaurants all over the Dayton area and around the nation are making the investment.

Proponents say not only does it provide ease for the customer, an online ordering system allows restaurants to track purchases and allow for troubleshooting, such as figuring out why an order is delayed.

However, investing in technology can carry a hefty price tag and some glitches.

Koehler said he invested roughly $400,000 installing new computer systems to accommodate online ordering. And Domino's Pizza Inc., one of the largest pizza chains in the world, has seen so much online ordering that it is now the No. 4 online retailer, trailing industry giants such as Amazon.com

Read full article.


One in Five UK College Students Have Hacked an IT System

Research published today by IT security experts, Tufin Technologies, reveals that 23% of college and university students have hacked into IT systems. Of these hackers, 40% waited until after their 18th birthday before their first hacking attempt. On a positive note, 84% of 18-21 year olds recognized that hacking is wrong. However, 32% identified that hacking is 'cool' and worryingly, for the targets of hackers in this age group, 28% considered hacking to be easy.This research, which was supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), builds on a study carried out in March amongst teenagers. The teenage research survey revealed similar attitudes towards hacking, although only 18% considered hacking to be easy, suggesting that hackers' experience develops through their teenage years. Both surveys found that there was no gender bias in hackers with an equal split between boys and girls.

The survey which was carried out amongst 1,000 college and university students from across five London universities and three Northern universities showed that just over one in three students said that they hacked for fun. A further 22% cited curiosity as their main reason for hacking. An entrepreneurial 15% revealed that they hacked to make money. This was further reflected in the types of sites that had fallen victim to these youngsters. The survey found that 37% had hacked Facebook accounts, 26% e-mail accounts with 10% breaching online shopping accounts. Although 39% of hackers use their own computer, others have used public computers and networks with 32% a university machine and 23% using an Internet café.

Also the victims? 
Unfortunately, the study also discovered that nearly half of the students (46%) had fallen foul of hackers having had either their social networking or e-mail accounts breached. A further 41% said that they had had their passwords to university networks abused by a third party.

"What this survey clearly highlights is that hacking into personal online accounts whether e-mail or Facebook is happening regularly among the student population. It illustrates the importance of keeping your passwords strong, secure and changing them regularly to help protect your accounts from unscrupulous people of all ages," says ACPO lead on e-crime prevention and president of the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace (POLCYB), Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde. "We live in a world where social networking, e-mail and the Internet is embedded into our every day lives from a far younger age so early education is essential to ensure young people know the devastating consequences this activity can have. What is concerning is the attitude of many of those surveyed felt that hacking (i.e., using someone else's account) was acceptable, or even something to be admired – it is not. Hacking is illegal and we need to ensure everyone understands that."

Tufin Technologies concluded that the best defense against hackers consists of well-designed and followed upon automated processes at firewalls, server operating systems and the application level."



SugarHouse Casino Names Printer Partner for Gaming Platforms

SugarHouse Casino has signed an agreement with FutureLogic, Inc., stating that FutureLogic's GEN2 Universal printer will be the exclusive printer used in the new casino's gaming platforms.Scheduled to open to the public on September 23, 2010, SugarHouse Casino's 45,000-square-foot gaming floor will feature 1,600 slot machines and dozens of table games. According to SugarHouse Casino, their selection of GEN2 Universal printers was based on a proven track record of success at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

"I have used FutureLogic printers in other properties and found them to be reliable, efficient and designed with the latest technology," says George Mancuso, vice president of slot operations for SugarHouse Casino. "FutureLogic's customer support is outstanding and remains an important factor in our commitment to provide our patrons with the best possible gaming experience."

The GEN2 Universal printer is designed to provide the ease of integration required for the next generation of networked games. It is server-based ready, supports both SPC (IGT) and GDS protocols and can be configured to communicate with multiple hosts simultaneously, such as RS-232 or Netplex and USB protocols.

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