Understand Your Market...

  • 29 Jul 2014
  • Posted by Admin

To run a successful business, you need to learn about your customers, your competitors and your industry. Market research is the process of analyzing data to help you understand which products and services are in demand, and how to be competitive. Market research can also provide valuable insight to help you:

• Reduce business risks

• Spot current and upcoming problems in your industry

• Identify sales opportunities

How to Conduct Market Research Before you start your business, understand the basics of market research by following these steps: 1. Identify Official Government Sources of Market and Industry Data The government offers a wealth of data and information about businesses, industries and economic conditions that can aid in conducting market research. These sources provide valuable information about your customers and competitors:

• Economic Indicators

• Employment Statistics

• Income and Earnings

2. Identify Additional Sources of Analysis Trade groups, business magazines, academic institutions and other third parties gather and analyze research data about business trends. Use Internet and database searches to find information related to your location and industry. 3. Understand the International Marketplace Today’s economy is a globalized marketplace, so it’s important to understand the international factors that influence your business. These resources will help you to research potential international markets for your products or services:

• Market Research Guide for Exporters: Identifies resources for business owners seeking to sell their products abroad.

• Country Market Research: Reports on trade issues in countries across the globe.

• BuyUSA.gov: Helps U.S. companies find new international business partners.

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Your Security, Business Account Takeover

  • 06 Jul 2012
  • Posted by Admin
Business Account Takeover is the business equivalent of personal identity theft. Businesses not only need to protect themselves from identity theft but also ensure they have protections in place so that they do not have a business account takeover. Hackers, backed by professional criminal organizations are targeting small and medium businesses to obtain access to their web banking credentials or remote control of their computers. These hackers will then drain the deposit and credit lines of the compromised bank accounts, funneling the funds through channels that quickly redirect the monies into other accounts not owned by the business. Avoid Business Account Takeover A business account takeover is generally initiated by opening an email or visiting legitimate websites and clicking on links, documents, videos, or photos that unknowingly install malware programs designed to collect sensitive permissions and passwords. Sophisticated versions of malware can even capture token-generated passwords, alter the display of a website to a user, or display a fake website indicating the bank's website is down. Once installed, the malware provides information to hackers to impersonate the business in online banking sessions. To the banks, the credentials look just like the legitimate user. The hackers then move funds via wire transfers or ACH (electronic) transactions to other accounts not owned by the business. Many hackers are currently targeting small and medium-size businesses, municipalities, and non-profit organizations that may not have the sophisticated detection software or internal controls of larger businesses. Nevertheless, there are several steps a small business should consider to reduce the likelihood of a business account takeover.
Protect Yourself
  • Use a dedicated computer for financial transactional activity. DO NOT use that computer for general web browsing and email.
  •  Never open attachments or click on links from unsolicited emails.
  • Apply operation system and application updates (patches) regularly.
  • Use the latest versions of Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome with "pop-up" blockers and ensure that updates (patches) are the most recent versions.
  • Use and maintain updated spam filters and anti-virus software.
  • Have host-based firewall software installed on your computers.
  • Turn off your computer when not in use.
  • Segregate responsibilities; require one person to enter/perform a transaction and a second person to approve the transaction.
  • Do not approve transactions by batching them together, be sure to review and approve each one individually.
  • Review your banking transactions daily.
  • Use a dedicated bank account for ACH and wire transactions, only funding that account before you initiate transactions.
  • Contact your information technology provider to determine the best way to safeguard the security of your computers and networks.
Potential Signs Your Computer System May Be Compromised
  • Inability to log in to online banking.
  • Dramatic loss of computer speed.
  • Changes in the way things appear on the screen.
  • Computer lock-ups causing the user to be unable to perform any functions.
  • Unexpected rebooting or restarting of the computer.
  • Unexpected request for a one time password (or token) in the middle of an online session.
  • Unusual pop-up messages, especially a message in the middle of a session that says the connection to the bank system is not working.
  • New or unexpected toolbars and/or icons.
  • Inability to shut down or restart the computer.
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