Banks move on security… NSW demands more… The cost of IT recycling… Midas sale crash fear… Succession seminars… Retail, business confidence diverge… Sweet sanity…

Online security threat prompts bank action

Australia’s big banks are negotiating discounted PC security software for their customers to counter the dramatic increase web and email scams over the past 18 months.

Online banking used to be prey only to one-time individual hackers more interested in showing off than stealing, but now highly professional and well resourced criminal gangs are fleecing a growing numbers of customers banking online, according to a recent report on PC security by technology analysts Ovum.

“Attackers now use a wider range of methods for delivering their malware. Email remains a primary channel, but downloads from fake websites, or compromised valid websites, are being used almost as frequently,” says the report’s author, Graham Titterington.

Australian banks are exposed because they are liable for losses suffered by customers due to online fraud, which can amount to up to $3 million a month in some cases, the Australian Financial Review reports.

NAB and St George Bank have responded to this risk by negotiating discounts on PC security software for their customers, with the other major banks reported to make similar offers in the next few months.

NAB customers can purchase:

  • A one year, three-user licence for the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Software Suite 2007, a package that offers protection against viruses, hackers, spyware, worms, spam, and identity theft for $49.95, a 50% discount on the retail price according to retailer SecureTec. A two year three user licence will cost $74.98.
  • Spyware Doctor, an anti spyware product that protects PCs against potential spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, spybots and tracking threats for $33.95, a 32% discount according to retailer PCTools.

St George customers can purchase:

  • A two year, single user licence for the same ZoneAlarm Internet Security Software Suite 2007 for $74.95, or a two-year, three user licence for $112.46.

– Mike Preston

NSW demands more GST revenue

The howls of protest would be felt all the way from Perth to Tasmania if the Iemma Government gets its way.

Once again the NSW Government is pushing to have the federal financial system overhauled so it gets more in the annual slicing up of more than $41 billion of GST revenue.

Both NSW and Victoria want a different model used for the GST distribution and NSW is making its push in front of a review designed to simplify the process. The final report is not due until 2010.

– Amanda Gome

Consumer may be hit by the cost of computer recycling

Ever wonder where all the old computers go? Two-thirds of the estimated 870 million PCs made worldwide in the next five years will end up as landfill. Dell, which has been running a recycling program for the past six months, is in favour of manufacturers taking responsibility for recycling, but the rest of the industry is less enthralled by the idea.

Now, federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revived plans to slug consumers with charges to cover the cost of recycling computers, government officials have revealed to the Australian newspaper. The Environment Protection and Heritage Council is expected to consider new regulations in October.

– Jacqui Walker

Midas sale reported to have fallen over

A rumour is circulating among franchisees of the former car care chain Midas that the sale of the franchisor Midas Australia by Philip Bonney to John Pearson, the owner of Tyrecorp, has finally completely fallen over.

The sale, which was to have been completed in June, has been delayed several times. According to a report, Bonney told a meeting of staff on Friday afternoon that it was now off the table. He indicated that there were a couple of other interested buyers and discussions with them are continuing.

SmartCompany attempted to confirm the story with Midas Australia’s head office but there was no response to our email to the company’s lawyer.

The Midas franchise chain has been mired in controversy for several years with several franchisees and former franchisees making allegations of unconscionable and misleading and deceptive conduct against the franchisor. ACCC investigations, at the behest of disgruntled franchisees, have not resulted in any legal action against the company, which has always denied the allegations.

– Jacqui Walker

Free succession seminars

As baby boomers enter retirement, succession planning is becoming the top issue for many. The Government has funded Ernst & Young to deliver 150 free seminars between August and October on succession planning.

You can register for the free seminars, attend online succession seminars and take a self assessment by visiting the Small Business Succession Planning Website.

– Amanda Gome

Retail confidence down; business confidence up 

The retail sector experienced a surprise decline in June, defying generally strong conditions across the economy, a business survey released today reveals.

The June NAB business survey recorded a “very strong deterioration” in retail business confidence and conditions, a divergence from good retail results over the past year.

In other sectors, business confidence and conditions remained at high levels in June, with business reporting trading conditions consistent with strong continued GDP growth of about 3.5%.

That good news looks set to continue in the September quarter, according to the Dun & Bradstreet business expectations survey released yesterday.

Businesses report a sales outlook improving by 16% next quarter, while profit growth expectations are positive for the first time in five quarters.

A moderation in petrol prices and the declining impact of the drought are behind the positive outlook, Dun & Bradstreet chief executive Christine Christian says.

– Mike Preston

Sweet sanity

Is sanity prevailing at last? Moves by companies to trademark colours and shapes could be thwarted judging by the latest decision in the Federal Court.

The Federal Court yesterday refused to hear afresh the case of Cadbury Schweppes versus Darrell Lea after Cadbury accused the rival chocolate maker of misleading customers by using the “Cadbury” purple. Cadbury will now go to the High Court.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s Chocolaterie Guylian, has also gone to the Federal Court after failing in its application to trademark its seahorse shape. The chocolate maker has successfully registered the seahorse trademark in parts of Europe and the US.

– Amanda Gome


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