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Your customers want more secure telephone payments

July 28, 2014 by John McGarvey

Making a telephone card payment{{}}New research suggests that 60% of consumers are reluctant to purchase a product or service when faced with paying over the phone. And just 1% of people feel that making payment over the phone to a call centre is secure.

The research, from telecoms firm Syntec Telecom’s third annual tracker survey (PDF link), suggests high-profile data breaches have increased consumer demand for new payment technologies.

If the findings are accurate, 75% of consumers think organisations should be doing more to prevent credit and debit card fraud.

That should give some food for thought to any business that takes payments over the phone. Are potential customers looking elsewhere because they don’t trust the payment process? Could introducing new ways to pay help them win more business?

Telephone fraud is a problem

It’s not as if these consumer fears are groundless. Sophie Keen, from CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, confirms call centre fraud is a real problem:

“Over 20% of the internal fraud cases reported by CIFAS members in 2013 were committed in contact centres with many of these offences involving staff disclosing customer or commercial data to organised criminal, third parties.”

According to the research, 46% of consumers feel technology should be used to hide card details from call centre workers. What’s more, 67% feel that — as a general rule — companies should not be allowed to keep card details on file.

The weakest link?

Card payments made over the phone are a weak link because the customer has to read out all the information required to make fraudulent payments. It’s all too easy for an unscrupulous customer service agent to take a copy of the details for their own use, too.

There are lots of ways to reduce this risk in your business. You can educate employees about fraud, make sure you comply with PCI-DSS payment regulations, and make check the security credentials of any key partners.

There are also ways to shield your customers’ card details from the ears of your staff. Tools like Syntec’s own CardEasy service allow you to hand customers over to an electronic system when payment is required.

The customer can make payment by entering card details via their telephone keypad, before returning to the call to confirm their order. As the card details are never shared with another person, the risk of fraud is reduced.

Has your company lost business due to fraud? What did you do to set things straight?

Tagged payments | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: use your iPad to view Dropbox files offline

July 25, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week, we take a look at how to use your iPad to view Dropbox files offline.

What is Dropbox?

Dropbox is one of the world's most popular cloud storage services. Once you've signed up (the basic package is free), you get a special Dropbox folder on your computer. Anything you save here will be automatically backed up on the internet.

Dropbox is good for three things:

  • Backing up your data. It's not a foolproof backup system, but when you save files to your Dropbox you can be confident it's creating an online backup for you.
  • Accessing files on the move. When you sign in to Dropbox from other devices — like a tablet or smart phone — you can see all your files, so it's very convenient.
  • Sharing files with other people. You can give other people access to particular folders within your Dropbox, so it's a good place to store shared fles.

Using Dropbox for iPad offline

If you're like me, once you start using Dropbox, you'll come to rely on it. If you have an iPad, you'll probably install the Dropbox app so you can see your files there too.

When your iPad is connected to the internet, this works fine. You go into the app, select a file, and Dropbox opens it.

But when your iPad isn't connected to the internet, you won't be able to view any of your files. If you're rushing to a meeting and had hoped to read a document on the train (like me, last week), this can be irritating.

It's easy to make files available offline on Dropbox for iPad. We've put together this video to show you how. Just remember, you need to be connected to the internet when you follow these steps:

Dropbox offline — step-by-step

Don't fancy watching the video? No problem — here are step-by-step instructions. We've assumed you already have Dropbox set up on your iPad:

  1. Open the Dropbox app
  2. Navigate to the file you want to make available offline
  3. Tap the star icon at the top right of the screen
  4. That's it. Just make sure you give Dropbox time to download the file before you go offline.

You should be able to access every file you've favourited at any time, no matter whether you have an internet connection or not.

Related information about Dropbox:

Are lower EU roaming costs a good thing?

July 22, 2014 by John McGarvey
Man using phone on beach{{}}
Does mobile roaming make you anxious?

New rules have come into force that slash the cost of making and receiving calls, sending texts and using mobile internet in other EU countries.

Recent years have seen the EU clamp down on roaming charges by introducing caps to limit how much extra mobile phone networks can charge when you visit another EU country.

EU roaming is cheaper than ever

Over time, the maximum charges allowed under the caps have been reduced. Under the latest rules, you can be charged a maximum of:

  • 20 cents per megabyte (MB) of data
  • 19 cents per minute to make a call
  • 5 cents minute to receive a call
  • 6 cents to send a text message

The European Commission has created an infographic to show you roughly what €10 should now get you.

Ultimately, European leaders hope to eliminate roaming charges altogether. Yes, one day you may be able to use your phone anywhere in the EU without paying extra for the privilege.

So, this is the perfect good news story for the beginning of the holiday season, right?

Well, while most people would probably agree that roaming costs have been too high for too long, there are a couple of less-positive aspects.

Should you choose a bundle?

For a while now, many UK mobile phone networks have offered add-on bundles to people who are travelling abroad.

For instance, if you’re travelling in Europe, EE will give you 100MB of data for £3. The data expires after 24 hours, but it’s a good deal if you plan to use the internet a lot, even compared to the new capped prices.

The thing is, many people get confused about how much data they actually need.

With standard roaming costs now lower than ever, it may be in the interest of mobile networks to push people towards bundles — even if that’s often not the best option for their customers.

Opting out of roaming

Now EU roaming is cheaper, you can bet we’ll do more of it. And that raises a broader question: when we’re on holiday trying to ‘get away from it all’, is it really a good idea to stay in such easy contact with the office?

Going on holiday can make you feel better for weeks or months afterwards. Switching off completely lets you relax properly, rather than thinking about all the things happening back in the office.

That temptation to check your email while you’re on a break just got slightly stronger. Can you resist it?

John McGarvey is editor of the IT Donut

How managed security software can keep you safe

July 21, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How managed security software can keep you safe{{}}Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of websites were affected by the heartbleed security flaw.

Heartbleed was a massive headache, but also acted as a reminder that large-scale security breaches can — and do — happen.

It’s not just down to IT staff and security experts to take action. Business owners have a role to play, too.

There are many things you can do to protect your business from online threats. The security section of IT Donut is an excellent place to start.

One of the most important things to think about is anti-virus and security software. These programs scan your computers for viruses, spyware and other malware. They also monitor your network for suspicious activity, and can identify and remove email threats.

Just a single piece of malware can leave your systems wide open, paving the way for hackers to enter and steal your data. Security software is a key countermeasure.

Finding the right security software

It’s easy to realise that you need security software. But there’s a bewildering choice of options, making it actually quite hard to pick one that meets your needs and budget.

And even when you’ve chosen your security software, just having it isn’t enough. In order for it to be effective, it needs to be:

  • Installed on every computer and server you have
  • Kept up to date, with details of all the latest threats
  • Turned on and set to perform regular scans

If you don’t meet these three requirements, your company will be at risk of a malware attack and data breach.

What do your users do?

Got all that sorted? Great. The next things you have to worry about are user habits.

Security software is only effective if it’s running on all your computers at all times. Unfortunately, it can sometimes slow computers down, block other software or force you to wait while it performs a scan.

For these reasons, you might find that your employees close the security software on their computers, disable the scanning functions, cancel updates — or change settings in some other way that makes the software less effective.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the job of making sure your security software is running properly and checking your employees haven’t interfered with its settings.

And that’s where managed anti-virus and security software comes in.

What is managed security software?

Managed security software works much the same as other security packages. It helps keep your systems secure and free of malware.

The main difference is that the software is managed by someone else. This is usually done by an IT provider (like your IT support company), but can be done by someone in your business, if you have the expertise in-house.

Whoever manages the security software takes responsibility for ensuring the solution is installed on every system and is always kept up to date.

Usually, software on individual computers and servers will be managed from a central control panel. For instance, changes to settings and updates can be rolled out across all computers automatically.

This is great for many smaller businesses because it means they don’t need to worry about the installation or day-to-day management of security software.

If you adopt managed security software, it can give you the benefit of knowing your systems and data stored are secure, without having to get into the ins and outs of checking every computer and every setting yourself.

(c) Mirus IT, provider of managed security software to smaller companies.

Tagged security | 0 comments

Do you understand contactless payments?

July 17, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Do you understand contactless payments?{{}}The ways we pay are changing fast. No matter what sort of business you run, customers will expect to be able to pay by their preferred method.

If you only accept a limited number of payment methods, people may be put off buying from you. With that in mind, perhaps you should be thinking about contactless payment, because this is one option that has really taken off in the last 12 months.

Contactless growth

Contactless payments are growing fast. Monthly spending on contactless cards exceeded £100m for the first time in March 2014, according to the UK Cards Association.

More than 370 contactless transactions are made every minute in the UK. That’s six per second — three times more than a year ago.

Although contactless is seen as a new technology, it’s actually been around since 2008. The same technology powers Transport for London’s Oyster card system, where passengers pay for public transport journeys via contactless cards pre-loaded with credit.

How contactless works

Contactless cards use a short-range wireless system called near field communications (NFC).

Contactless debit and credit cards are fitted with an antenna that connects them with devices up to 5cm away. When the cardholder passes their card close to a contactless payment machine, their payment is registered.

Because it’s so easy to make a payment, the contactless system has been designed to minimise the chance of duplicate or accidental transactions.

The terminals make sure only one payment is taken per transaction. To make a second payment, the card has to be taken out of range of the card reader, and then reintroduced.

Even then, a second payment will only be taken if the sales assistant has initiated a new transaction.

Software in the cash register or point of sale terminal also checks if there’s more than one card within range. It will reject the transaction if there’s a risk of the wrong card being charged.

The contactless advantage

‘Tap and go’ contactless transactions take less than a second, making shopping quicker and easier. If you run a shop, this reduces queues, makes customers happier and gives you more time to engage with them.

Major high street names such as Marks & Spencer, Costa and Boots are all using contactless. Although uptake among smaller businesses is harder to measure, it seems widespread.

There’ll already be at least one business on your local High Street that accepts contactless payments. More are joining every day.

This post is by Andy Macauley, chief operating officer at Handepay, which offers a free guide to contactless payments.

Tagged payment | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: how to reduce the size of a Microsoft Word file

July 17, 2014 by John McGarvey

Compress images in Word{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week, see how to reduce the size of Microsoft Word documents containing images.

Images make files larger

If you're working on a Microsoft Word document, you might have notices that the file size increases — often significantly — each time you add an image.

This is because images take up much more space on disk than text. Long documents with lots of images can grow unfeasibly large, making it harder to work with them or to share them with other people.

How to reduce file size

Microsoft Word includes an feature that reduces the amout of storage space images take up. It does this by compressing the image files in a document.

This slightly reduces the quality of images, but you can balance quality vs. size by choosing from a range of compression levels.

You should only compress images once you're sure you don't want to re-crop them or change the size again, because the compression option optimises the image for its current size.

Here's how to do it (these instructions should work with recent versions of Microsoft Word on Windows computers):

  1. In Microsoft Word, select the picture you want to compress. You can do this by clicking it once.
  2. Under Picture Tools on the Format tab, select Compress Pictures
  3. Beneath Target Output, select the resolution you require.
    The descriptions in the drop-down will help you understand which resolution is most appropriate. Normally, you'll probably select either Print (if you'll be printing the document) or Screen (if you'll only be viewing it on screen).
  4. To compress all images in the document, make sure Apply only to this picture is unticked.
  5. Select OK.

That's it. When you save the document again, you should notice that it takes up less space on your computer.

Previous IT for Donuts tips:

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