Online Transactions Series (Part One)

Posted by Clint Davis | 3 Mar

Consumer reliance on emerging technology: protecting yourself online.

In our contemporary society, consumers and businesses alike have become ever more reliant on technology to accommodate all their needs. Shopping, banking, gaming, even conditions relating to our employment have all moved towards a simpler, easily accessible, online presence. It could be argued that people’s reliance on technology peaked with the emergence of the Smart Phone, and subsequently, the development of mobile applications or “apps”.
The “Smart Phone” has actually been around a lot longer than you might think. Although the term wasn’t first coined until 1995, the original smart device was IBM’s “Simon.” Simon was a cellular device capable of sending and receiving various types of media including; faxes, emails, and included various mobile applications such as an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, and notepad and additionally, featured a touch screen display.
Some years later in 2007, apple released the first iPhone. Steve Jobs, Chief Executive of Apple at the time, called it “a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” In subsequent years, the competition between the major players in the industry becomes intensified as all the manufacturers attempt to cram in more and more features in increasingly smaller, slimmer, and ultimately, more appealing device.With the emergence of the smartphone and tablet devices, many companies began transforming their business model to include a stronger online presence. As social media became popularised, businesses began altering their strategic direction. This included changes to the business and marketing plans to include a social media presence in order to make transactions easier and more appealing to consumers. With the emergence of the smartphone and tablet devices, many companies began transforming their business model to include a stronger online presence. As social media became popularised, businesses began altering their strategic direction.
There is, however, imperfection to the trend. Undertaking all of one’s ordinary transactions online inherently involves the element of risk. One prominent and recent example was when the Department of Human Service’s Centrelink made a tech blunder when thousands of Aussie families were led to believe they were indebted to Centrelink. 7 News reported that 73,000 families had been affected by a “system error” which displayed an incorrect debt on online accounts (including the app) for families in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit.
A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services announced that the blunder would not have any financial impact on customers and apologised for the inconvenience. However, it’s plain to see that the shift in recent years to an increase in mobile and tablet services means that company’s need to ensure that their apps or online services are compliant to keep customer’s data or information private and secure.
At Incredo, this was something that was considered early on in the research and development cycle of the product development initiative. Our product, Incredo Analytics, contains a customer’s personal credit information, and we knew that compliance and security had to be at the forefront of our considerations for development. Incredo Analytics requires that a customer enters their internet banking credentials to retrieve their banking transaction information. It seems scary to be providing this information (and rightly so when many financial institutions stress the point of keeping this information secure) but be assured, that the levels of encryption that protect this data while it is both resting and in transit, is of the highest caliber, at 256 bit encryption, which some sources have reported to be “logically unbreakable”.
What then, should all consumers, businesses, and households be aware of when transacting themselves online?

Here’s five tips we have compiled to assist you in protecting yourself online:

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1. Install security software. Many devices these days come with security software pre-installed. However, it’s worth doing some research to ensure that your device is equipped with the most compatible security software. Many reputable providers include software security packages that include virus and malware protection, spyware protection, a firewall, and parental controls if you’re a parent.

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2. Educate yourself. Many of the dangers online occur from seemingly legitimate sources. One of the newest forms of online danger (and arguably one of the most successful modern day hackers tricks) is called “scareware”. Scareware is so dangerous, because of the legitimacy it facades. Pop-up messages or unsolicited emails arrive on your device that advises your computer or smart device has been compromised and that you must download or purchase software to repair it. These messages are intended to trick the user into believing their device is compromised, and has grounding for legitimate concern, especially considering that for many people most of our most private and personal information is stored on our smart devices. A tip to assist you in avoiding scareware is to check your security settings and ensure that the pop-up blocker is enabled.

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3. Enabled automatic updates. Many companies now provide “patches” which are designed to improve security and other problems to their software through automatic updates. These updates are almost always exclusively free, and should be applied as soon as they become available.

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4. Choosing a “strong” password. A strong password will typically consist of a minimum of eight characters, a mix of upper and lower case letters, at least, one number and, at least, one symbol. Avoid using the same password for multiple devices or accounts, (I know, it can be tempting!) but by using different passwords for different vendors, you are helping keep your various information sources secure. Choose “no” when your computer offers to automatically store a password when logging into a site – this is especially applicable for banking, social networks, and

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5. Secure your wireless network. An unsecured network is as risky as an unprotected device. It means that your personal and financial information is vulnerable to outside attacks. These days, most consumers and businesses run wireless network connections. A few tips to increase your wireless security are:
a. assign a network password so that any device wishing to connect to the network must use this password (avoid using the generic password that comes with the router & applies the suggestions in number 4 above);
b. change the Service Set Identifier (SSID) which is the name that identifies the wireless network. Avoid using a name that makes it easy for other to identify such as your businesses name or family name; and
c. ensure that your network encryption is turned on and ensure that you are utilising the latest encryption available on the device.
If you’re the type of person that likes to do their research and understand the security practices of a business before you engage their services or purchase a product, there is a requirement pursuant to the Australian Privacy Principles for organisations to make available their Privacy Policy that details their management of personal information (APP 1.3). I recommend reading this Privacy Policy (which from time to time may be amended) to ensure that the business engages in safe practices when it comes to how the organisation collects, stores, and uses your personal information.
For details on Incredo Analytics’ privacy practices, you can view our Privacy Policy here:
Disclaimer: Incredo does not give financial advice. The information contained on this web site is intended to be generalist in nature, it does not take into account your personal situation or your financial needs, objectives and goals. You should carefully consider whether the information provided is applicable to you, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a licenced financial adviser before acting on any information.

Clint Davis

Clint Davis is a Solutions Architect with over 13 years of experience in the field of Information Technology and Debt Management. His extensive technical knowledge allows for the identification and implementation of robust, scalable systems that substantially reduce operating costs and allow for corporate expansion.

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