PCI

Master PCI Data Security

PCI Compliance, PCI Security

Gary Kielich, owner of Systems Technology Group, says PCI / data security, software customization, and zero fear of complexity are keys to POS sales success.

Even today, as high-profile retail data security breaches dominate the airwaves and merchants of all sizes lose sleep over PCI and EMV requirements, many of the VARs Business Solutions speaks with are all too lax about — and in many cases, ignorant of — the business opportunities spawned by the payment security environment. That’s not STG.

In his direct, yet polite, manner, Kielich puts it plainly. “PCI has confused the hell out of the market and resellers alike,” he says. While that confusion has caused some to punt security concerns to their processing partners or simply avoid addressing them, STG took a wholly different approach. Five years ago, a contract opportunity opened the VAR’s eyes to the market’s need for payment security leadership. “We had an opportunity to install a 25-store system for a public sector account. The contract terms were draconian enough to send most solutions providers running,” he explains. At issue was payment security. The contract required the solutions provider to bring in a QSA (qualified security assessor) to document that STG’s system wasn’t storing or transferring any payment data. The requirement was telling, and Kielich had the foresight to know it was a sign of the times. “Instead of shying away, we wrapped our arms around it,” he says. “We started engaging with QSAs and absorbing everything we could. Then we wrote a software interface to a payment gateway to tokenize CHD (card holder data) between our application and the processor. We took on encryption. The more we learned, the better we got at proving the security of our solution.”

In the years since that project, payment security has become a leading POS systems sales driver. The fact that STG has been offering baked-in tokenization for the past five years and point-to-point encryption for the past two has brought a lot of business its way. “To merchants, payment security didn’t matter ten years ago. It started to matter a little five years ago. It matters a lot now,” says Kielich. “A lot of people are hung up on trying to secure data. You can’t do that, because the bad guys will get to it. You have to build a model where there is no data.” Because STG took that on early, it’s paying the company dividends today.

Today, when a customer approaches STG with payment security concerns, Kielich says his sales team is ready to pounce. “We go into those conversations with confidence because we’re experts. When prospects don’t lead with security, we make a point to bring it up early in the conversation because it’s important and because we’re experts.” PCI, he says, has caused a lot of pain and confusion, but STG has an obligation to understand it and attack it. “We’ve claimed it as an opportunity, not an obstacle. If you don’t understand security, you shouldn’t be in this business, period.”

Now, STG is keeping a close watch on the future of payments, notably mobile. In the current landscape, overpopulated as it is with digital wallet providers, Kielich admits that his crystal ball has yet to inform him what the end-all-be-all mobile payment solution will look like. But, he says the key for solutions providers is to align with vendors that have open systems. “No one knows who will win, but we do know that proprietary will lose. You need to partner with vendors who are open to all of them and to those that can commit the people, technology, and dollars to accommodate all of them, so that the merchant has choice.” And, above all else, of course, security.

Customize And Replicate

Another important driver of STG’s success is its willingness to modify off-the-shelf software to meet specific client needs. Kielich provides a hometown example to illustrate. Buffalo is home to Minor League Baseball’s Buffalo Bisons, who play home games in 18,000+ seat Coca-Cola Field. When Buffalo’s Rich Products — which owns both the Bisons and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — sought a POS upgrade for the multiple concession areas at Coca-Cola Field and the Naturals’ 6,500-seat Arvest Ballpark, it turned to STG. “We installed Aloha there, but its off-the-shelf functions weren’t enough for stadium environments. The solution had to manage distinct sets of inventory among various concession stands,” explains Kielich. “We wrote an application called Stand Sheet Manager as a requirement of the contract, and that capability landed us the 145-terminal sale.”

Kielich says the decision to seize control of STG’s destiny by hiring in-house software developers helps the company distinguish itself from those married to off-the-shelf solutions, but he offers advice to those willing to follow suit. “Early on, we had some talented and technically proficient employees, and they were able to develop software extensions at a basic level by modifying SQL tables or writing a little C++,” he says. “We began with those simple enhancements, but as we monetized it, we hired additional programmers.”

Monetizing that development work is imperative, and Kielich says it requires discipline. “We’re very diligent about writing a thorough scope of work for each client engagement, which outlines in detail what they want, and which is priced in accordance with our development efforts,” he says. That careful management has afforded STG the current luxury of employing three full-time C# developers.

The other beauty of STG’s custom development work is that often it can be replicated to the tune of more and bigger business opportunities. “Through these custom engagements, our developers have built a library of enhancements that are maintained, enhanced, and available for sale to the greater market,” he says. “They can be sold over and over again.” Five years ago, STG wrote a reporting application for a liquor store customer called the STG Buyer’s Tool. It was designed to help the merchant analyze what inventory was moving and what wasn’t, enabling better buying decisions. “It’s a tool that makes those merchants more efficient and more profitable. We continue to sell and enhance that application, and it’s allowed us to win several other accounts in the liquor and packaged retail goods industries,” says Kielich. In fact, STG has made the application available to other resellers, too.


“To merchants, payment security didn’t matter ten years ago. It started to matter a little five years ago. It matters a lot now.”

Gary Kielich, Owner, Systems Technology Group

 

In 2013, another custom development project brought some high-profile exposure to STG. Fellow Buffalo business Delaware North Companies outfitted Busch Stadium with 1,800 food service associates to work the World Series that year, many of whom were armed with Honeywell mobile POS units loaded with a solution delivered by STG. “That installation helped us make great strides into extending our experience to the mobile space. We’ve grown the stadium and arena segment of our business significantly, with installations in venues that host many professional teams around the country.”

By tiptoeing into software development, getting paid for customizations up front, and making the fruits of its development efforts available for sale to the greater market, STG has strengthened its foothold in some of the key segments it serves.

Embrace Complexity

Kielich says everyone at STG recognizes that the retail systems landscape has never been more complex than it is today, and he says everyone there embraces that fact. “We’ve committed to being specialists, and that means understanding every piece of the retail ecosystem,” he says. For example, while many VARs shy away from the merchant demand for omni-channel transaction complexity and opt instead to stay chained to traditional brick-and-mortar transaction enablement, STG relishes the opportunity to engage merchants’ omni-channel challenges. “You can’t do omni-channel on ten-year-old legacy applications without a lot of burdensome integration, because they weren’t designed for that,” he says. To capitalize on omni-channel demand, he says you have to offer a software package that accommodates transaction complexity, such as buy online, pick up in store and buy online, and return to store, as well as one that enables multistore and DC inventory visibility.

“VARs have to be willing to trace this demand back to its origin, which isn’t the merchant, it’s the consumer,” says Kielich. “Understanding and accommodating the demands of modern consumers is a very complex business. They expect to purchase anywhere, pay anywhere, and have merchandise fulfilled anywhere. They want access to loyalty programs, inventory, and transaction history. The retailer wants accurate and timely information on their consumers. All those demands equate to solutions opportunities for those of us willing to take on the complexity,” he says. For its part, STG resells LS Retail, which Kielich says offers virtually all of the omni-channel functionality his customers demand.

Beyond the complexity of modern customer-facing solutions such as omni-channel, Kielich says the VAR business itself has become significantly more complex since he launched STG. He points to the shift toward SaaS as an example. “We’ve been selling Aloha for 20 years now, and we’re fortunate in that Aloha started moving toward SaaS fifteen years ago with its above-store reporting engine,” he says. “That was followed by gift cards and loyalty, then online ordering, and now 15 different applications, including POS, are delivered in the SaaS model.” As such, STG has been charging monthly fees for services since long before it was cool. Today, some 30 percent to 35 percent of its customers’ transactions are conducted via SaaS applications.

Kielich equates the complexity of the current retail technology climate with opportunity. “This is a really exciting time for our business because of all the change, and I’m grateful for it. Complexity, and the ability to specialize in solving complex challenges, protects us from commoditization and the pricing and margin erosion that comes with it,” he says. His advice to you, his fellow channel pros, is to embrace complexity and become expert specialists. “No one asks for the cheapest brain surgeon.” Likewise, he says, when merchants face complexity, they seek the best, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Article Provided By: Business Solutions

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Security vs Money

Unlocking the Door to Cloud – Based Access Control

 

Unlocking the Door to Cloud-Based Access Control

Cloud – Based Access Control

Advancements in the computing landscape are driving the adoption of more and more cloud – hosted offerings in security. Integrators seeking to grow their business into new markets or by offering new solutions can turn to access control as a solution (ACaaS) as their catalyst.
 Less than a decade ago, if anyone was referring to “the cloud” in conversation, chances were it had something to do with the weather. Today, discussions on the cloud are springing up everywhere, including the ever-evolving security industry, but in most cases, the meteorological forecast is an afterthought.

The cloud, or in more technical terms, cloud computing, refers to the concept of hosting applications on servers located in large, public datacenters where, through real-time connectivity such as the Internet, a provider can then offer access to the applications as a service. So instead of having a software platform on a local PC, the platform and database are hosted in the cloud, with no onsite software required. Then, users access their data and other functionality via a mobile or Web app, and in most cases, pay a fee to use this service.

In the physical security industry, the cloud has become an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion, where some still voice apprehensions, but where others eagerly advocate their support and interest. And although cloud-based applications have been around for some time and seen success in other industries, advancements in the computing landscape are driving the adoption of more and more cloud-hosted offerings in security. One of the leading areas of emergence is access control.

A Look at the Cloud Today

Factors like the increasing availability of faster and more affordable Internet connectivity and the expansion of global state-of-the-art public datacenters are also contributing to wider acceptance, suggesting cloud-based security systems are becoming more accessible, cost-effective and reliable than ever before. Similarly, the security mechanisms put in place by cloud providers to secure the platform from logical security threats such as hackers are also becoming better. In fact, cloud platforms are often more secure than the servers that some organizations have at their own facilities.

Another major factor that has contributed to the growing number of cloud-based security offerings is the inherent mobility available through such offerings. A growing number of end users no longer want to be tethered to a desktop PC or laptop to access their security system. Instead, they appreciate the convenience of using apps via their smartphones or tablets when they need immediate access. Extending mobility to these users means delivering solutions that they can interact with from anywhere.

Today, a cloud offering category that has been receiving attention in the security industry is video surveillance as a service, or VSaaS. With vendors now offering fully hosted solutions, VSaaS is essentially lowering the barrier to purchasing an IP system by reducing upfront costs and complexities for end users, while boosting recurring monthly revenues (RMR) for the integrator.

For the end user who wants to secure their organization but does not want the burden and costs sometimes associated with housing, maintaining and cooling servers, or for those with limited IT resources or expertise, choosing a fully-hosted cloud package is a very attractive solution. They also benefit from mobility aspect, being able to pull up video and handle alarms from any device connected to the Internet.

Similarly, integrators who are not necessarily interested in deploying and supporting security applications involving complex infrastructures, can now look at fully-hosted cloud offerings as an easy-to-install option that lets them focus on other core services or competencies. While helping to streamline and simplify operations for the integrator, cloud-based solutions can also serve as a new opportunity to expand their market share by encouraging the swap from older analog systems to powerful IP-based video technology.

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Upgrading Now Rather Than Later

Work Smarter: Why It’s Worth Upgrading Now Rather Than Later

Upgrading Security Technology Leads To Long-term Cost Savings

Many businesses put every available dollar into their operation and are doing more with less. Businesses that make the investment to upgrade their security technology, whether it has become obsolete or no longer meets their needs, often notice long-term cost saving and ROI in other areas. Older equipment typically requires monitoring from additional personnel or uses costly communication protocols, which is why many business owners are replacing outdated equipment.

Some companies upgrade to comply with new regulations; others replace existing protocols or outdated technologies that are proving to be too costly. With today’s technology, there’s never been a better time to replace older equipment. Four security trends are encouraging businesses to upgrade:

1. Remote Monitoring for More Freedom

The demand to remotely access, view and control security systems from mobile devices is growing. Business owners are becoming interested in this ability, as it enables them to set alarm systems and remotely view cameras from their smartphones or tablets, providing greater freedom. Remote monitoring systems record and collect video, and is stored in the cloud, so footage can be viewed from anywhere in the world by using a password and secure Internet connection. The newer systems also enable delivery to a remote location via multiple streams over low bandwidth.

2. IP Video for Better Performance

More and more businesses are migrating from outmoded VCR and early DVR analog technology to Internet protocol (IP)-based video surveillance and access control. Many businesses are choosing to undergo migration because analog video has reached its performance peak and does not have the flexibility, functionality, scalability or clarity of current digital systems.

The newer technology is starting to become a cost-conscious solution for smaller security systems with 16 cameras or less. The versatility and scalability of IP cameras enable the system to easily grow as the businesses’ needs expand and change. It is also simple to upgrade because software can be directly downloaded to the camera, and software is less likely to become obsolete, as upgrades are available. The resolution of megapixel cameras zooms in on details without losing quality – providing clear evidence when needed.

Some businesses begin with a hybrid solution that helps to bridge the gap between analog and IP systems. That means analog and IP video can be transmitted simultaneously until fully switching over to IP video.

3. Access Control to Secure Additional Areas

Mobile devices are also making an impact in the area of access control. Mobile technology enables organizations to be less dependent on costly infrastructure required for connecting servers, panels and readers, as electronic locks respond to a mobile device’s encrypted “open” command. The ability to secure areas in this way allows more companies to secure additional assets, like interior doors, filing cabinets and storage areas, or other parts of the company that might have been cost-prohibitive to secure in the past.

4. Smart Video Surveillance Systems to Eliminate False Alarms

Smart video surveillance systems can process visual information in the same way as humans, distinguishing between certain alarm triggers (like people or cards), sending alerts when predefined rules are violated. Companies are starting to implement these types of systems to reduce storage and bandwidth requirements and help eliminate time wasted on false alarms.

Technology is continually changing, but when it can help your business work smarter while also better protecting your assets, it’s worth upgrading sooner rather than later.

Article Provided By: Tyco

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Security vs Money

Security Technology Its Worth The Investment

Why Security Technology Is Worth Your Investment

Security and Deterrent Devices

As the American economy pulls itself out of the recent recession, many businesses continue to work within limited budgets. While tightening their belts, small businesses are simultaneously combating the increased crime that comes with financial downturn. Here are a few key tactics for maximizing both cost efficiency and safety.

Deterrence is one of the most effective loss-prevention tactics. Whenever a would-be shoplifter or an employee is dissuaded from stealing, a business saves resources on lost merchandise, investigation time and litigation costs. Help ensure employees and shoplifters always have your security systems in the back of their minds by having versatile security equipment, including the following:

Cameras.

As cameras continue to grow in popularity, people must think twice about what they do anywhere they are in public. In stores, video surveillance reminds employees and shoppers that they may be watched – and a second thought can make the difference between a stolen item and a purchased one.

Signage.

Signs are a low-tech, low-cost way of letting the pubic know security is on the job. They can communicate that shoplifters will be prosecuted and that video surveillance is being used. It is another inexpensive way to give people that second sobering thought.

Emerging Technologies

Here are some of the latest technologies to consider as solutions for your business to stretch dollars and save you time.

Updated Video Cameras.

Video cameras are becoming smaller, smarter and easier to install and upgrade. The biggest advancement of late is networked Internet protocol (IP) cameras. These cameras have their own IP addresses and can be plugged into your network.

Video from IP cameras can be accessed directly from the Internet for management and remote visibility. IP camera systems are more versatile and scalable, and they can download updates that extend their functionality. Oftentimes these cameras also produce higher-quality images, which can help make identifying suspects or providing convincing evidence easier than ever.

Digital Recording.

Most law enforcement officials will tell you how much they rely on recorded images to solve crimes. Those same officers will also tell you how frustrating poor-quality video can be or how exasperating it is searching through hours of archives. Old VCR systems are certainly no longer ideal. Digital recording has improved both quality and the image-retrieval process.

Remote Monitoring.

Using an in-house network or the Internet, video can be recorded by cameras and then sent to another location, where it can be analyzed and stored. Owners or management can also view live video at any location from anywhere in the world by using a password and a secure connection.

Mobile Security Management.

Even when out of the office, mobile security management enables business owners and managers to control security systems remotely. Advanced security systems have applications for smartphones and tablets that help keep you in control wherever you are. You can receive email or text-message alerts, remotely arm your intrusion system and change user codes to help ensure people are safe and the building is secure.

Article Provided By: Tyco

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July 4th

July 4th

July 4th

Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

July 4th

THE BIRTH OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical. By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine’s bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published in early 1776. On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee–including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York–to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” On July 4th, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.

Article Provided By: History

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