Thursday, July 24, 2008

HomeATM Helps Contribute to SmartCard Marketing Systems Growth

Press Release As Stated by SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc. (PINKSHEETS: SMKG)

"Management is pleased to announce the first quarter of 2008 results, whereby many months of development began to produce tangible results for Smartcard Marketing Systems.

Customers using the Internet platform processed almost $450,000 in deposits in the first quarter, a 637% gain over the first quarter of 2007.

The company also began processing payments from use of the "HomeATM" for the first time during this quarter. These advances contributed to a 34% increase in operating results from the first quarter of last year.

During this quarter the company's distributors activated over 1,100 new prepaid MasterCards our largest month recorded. As our business continues to grow with new merchants and consumers our existing clients have only just begun to utilize our services which will result in continued exponential results over the next 24 months as they bring service levels and usage to a larger capacity of their clients.

Additionally we have filed our first quarter financials of 2008 on and status has been upgraded to limited information. We are really pleased with these results and continue to pursue on having our status to current with additionally filings to be completed throughout the month of August."

Smart Card Marketing Systems Inc.
Max Barone - CEO

Study: 75% of Banks Websites are Flawed

U of M Study: Most Bank Web Sites Flawed

A new University of Michigan study finds that more than 75 percent of bank websites had at least one design flaw that cannot be fixed with a patch and could make customers vulnerable to cyber-thievary.

Atul Prakash, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, along with a pair of doctoral students, examined the Web sites of 214 financial institutions in 2006.

The flaws center around the layout of websites and the placement of log-in boxes and contact information, as well as the failure to keep customers on the initial website they visited. The flaws are not things that can be fixed with a patch. Prakash said some banks may have taken steps to resolve these problems since this data was gathered, but overall he still sees much need for improvement.

He got the idea for the study after noticing problem with his own bank's website. "To our surprise, design flaws that could compromise security were widespread and included some of the largest banks in the country," Prakash said. "Our focus was on users who try to be careful, but unfortunately some bank sites make it hard for customers to make the right security decisions when doing online banking." The flaws leave cracks in security that hackers could exploit to gain access to private information and accounts.

The FDIC says computer intrusion is a growing problem for banks and their customers.They will present the findings for the first time at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security meeting at Carnegie Mellon University July 25.

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Is This Weird? Dumbographics 101

This from eMarketer Daily.  To visit eMarketer Daily and subscribe to their daily newsletter, you may do so by clicking on the following link:

African-Americans, Online and Shopping

Over 3 million new Internet users in three years 

African-American Internet users surveyed spent more than one-quarter of their total media time online in October and November 2007, according to the Radio One-sponsored "Black America Study," conducted by Yankelovich. (Editor's Note: Is that the same one from "Weird Al" infamy?)

Fully 68% of those surveyed by ("Weird Al") Yankelovich were online (compared with 71% of all Americans). More than nine out of 10 African-American teens surveyed said they used the Internet. African-Americans who lived in the South were least likely to be online; only 63% of that group used the Internet.

Two-thirds of responding African-American Internet users said they had shopped online. Among all US Internet users in 2007, 79% were online shoppers, according to eMarketer. A 2007 Media Audit study found that African-Americans trailed other ethnicities in online buying, with just over four in 10 respondents having made an online purchase. 

eMarketer predicts that well over 3 million new African-Americans will join the Internet-using population in the next three years, and that more than 61% of the US African-American population will be online by 2011.

Mobile Phones Easy Target for Hackers?

In a new report titled "Consumers Are Apathetic About Mobile Banking" by Emmett Higdon from Forrester Research, "online bankers and bill payers are uninterested in the mobile banking pitch.

Why? Online bankers and bill payers don't see their transactions as urgent enough to warrant mobile access. (urgent or secure enough?) Instead, they prefer to wait until they can access the Web, ATM, or phone channel."

There may be another variable involved behind their lack of enthusiam. For instance, the subject matter in this article from "The Times of India" focuses on how easy it is to hack into mobile phones and steal bank information. That might play a part in the online bankers and bill payers reluctance...

NEW DELHI: Planning to buy that fancy smart phone? A word of caution: Internet-enabled phones have gaping security weaknesses waiting to be exploited, warn cyber security experts.

Any smart phone — including Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone and Symbian phones — can be hacked by a nerd with a little bit of code and some cunning. And they don't stop at data and identity theft alone. Nor are they content with unleashing viruses on the
operating system of your mobile. (Even Bluetooth makes your phone a potential target here.)

New Age mischief makers have learnt how to bug your phone and remote-control it. They can steal your bank information, send out a mischievous SMS to your girlfriend (who might just dump you!), copy your top-secret files or simply spy on every call/SMS you make from your phone.

In fact, they can even 'modify' your SMSes before these are sent out to your contacts — and you wouldn't even know it. That's not all. Hackers can also use your phone to spy on you by switching it on.

They can activate the camera and eavesdrop on your discussions  during a business meeting,
  or while you are secretly negotiating a lucrative job offer with a rival company.  What's more, they can even do an audio/video recording by sending an SMS command.

If you thought all this sounds too far-fetched, think again. Cellphone users in the US are already battling with the problem — 200 mobile viruses are on the loose and more are being spawned every day, says TowerGroup, a US-based research firm. India, too, is a prime target. Instances of mobile viruses are already rampant and experts say the threat is only going to get worse in a market growing at 11.75% per annum.

On last count, there were over 261.07 million mobile connections across the country: more than 50% phones being used are smart phones. No wonder companies that track internet and mobile security are worried. "Smart phones are easy targets for hackers. And studies show the threat is doubling every six months in India," says Anand Naik, director, Symantec India.

How do they do it? The tactics have evolved with the technology. In 2002, IBM researchers found that a cellphone's security card could be cloned in minutes. A hacker could make calls and route charges to the victim's account. The hacking technique, known as a partitioning attack, analyses power fluctuations in a phone's SIM card, allowing the attacker to read the security codes stored inside. However, the technique only worked on GSM phones and required that the attacker have access to the phone for at least a few minutes.

But hackers have become smarter. Now they simply send a spyware or snoopware through an SMS/MMS or GPRS, email or Bluetooth. "The message can even be disguised as an SMS from the service provider. The moment you click on it the spyware/virus gets activated. It starts working quietly and the user has no clue that someone is tapping everything he does. Once the virus is in, it can block/modify SMSes, intercept calls, upload data, delete or copy the address book," says Rajat Khare, CEO, Appin Group, an
information security company. Spam and SMiShing (SMS phishing) are also beginning to make their way into smart phones.

So what should a user do? A few simple steps could go a long way. Adopt a multi-layered security approach. Protect mobile devices with antivirus, firewall, anti-SMS spam, and
data encryption technologies and install regular security updates to protect phones from viruses and other malware. And yes, don't click blindly on any SMS, for someone may just be spying on you on the sly.

Maybe that's why India's Business Standard reports that the Reserve Bank of India has asked banks "to keep their mobile payment services on hold till it issues final guidelines for such transactions." The RBI is in the midst of finalizing its Operative Guidelines for banks on mobile payments. It recently posted a draft of the guidelines and solicited comments.

According to today's RBI notice, "While RBI has no objection for use of mobile channel to provide basic services such as mobile alerts for credit or debit entry, balance enquiry etc. which are in the nature of providing information, due care needs to be taken for permitting the channel for customers to initiate payment instructions."

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