Retailers spend more on online… Kidpreneurs hobnob online… The pastor takes plastic… Attack of the spam botnets


Retailers spend more on online

Close to 80% of retailers plan to increase their spending on e-commerce applications and services this year, according to an tnternet retailer survey of 195 chain retailers, catalogue companies, virtual merchants and consumer brand manufacturers reported by Marketing Charts.

According to the survey data, 10.1% of retailers expect to spend as much as 50% more on e-commerce technology this year, with 9.4% saying they will almost double their spending from 26% to 50%.

A new e-commerce platform is the top priority for 28.8% of companies, followed by web analytics at 14.7% and site search software at 13.6%.

Site search applications are also a priority: 24.9% of retailers in the survey plan to buy an advanced site search program within six months, and 32.2% in six months to two years. But the most popular measure most retailers want to implement in the future is ranked customer product reviews, with 51% rating it as their highest new e-commerce technology priority for the year ahead.


Online business hobnobbing for kids

SmartCompany previously reported on Dutch Postbank’s Bizznizz program, which encourages kids to start their own mini-business by giving them a briefcase containing business goodies and helping them invoice for their work.

According to Springwise, the bank has recently taken its online strategy to another level by opening a Bizznizz Lounge in Habbo Hotel, an online community for tweens and teens that has about seven million unique tween and teen visitors to its virtual rooms every month.

Habbo users will be able to use the Bizznizz lounge to chat with other kidpreneurs about money and their big business dreams – like how to run a part-time lawn mowing business, or the best way to advertise a dog walking service.


Using plastic to do God’s work

Automatic cash machines that allow parishoners to make direct contributions to their church have become common place in the lobbies of US churches, reports. A recent Dallas Morning News poll found that 55% of 200 local churches in that one city accept credit and/or debit cards – imagine how many church ATMs there must be in the whole country!

Although convenience is the prime factor behind the rise of church lobby ATMs, a recent IRS (the US version of the tax office) regulation has accelerated the trend. You see, to claim charitable contributions as a tax deduction, the IRS now demands documentation for amounts.

The specially designed ATMs mean church goers can put in the card, make a cash gift to the church and get a receipt that they can give to the taxman. It seems everybody wins – pastors even like to tell jokes about parishioners collecting frequent flier points on the way to heaven.


Botnet army behind spam offensive

Internet security company Marshal says a single spam group controlling tens of thousands of botnet computers has been able to single-handedly produce, almost overnight, a tenfold increase in the amount of “attachment” spam flooding the internet, iTWire reports.

According to Marshal, spam containing attached PDF, Excel, text and ZIP files represented almost 25% of all spam last week, up from just 2% in the prior week.

Marshall said that the surge in “attachment spam” also corresponded with the continued decline of the previously dominant form, image spam, which in the same week fell to a 12-month low of just 6% of all spam.

“No one but the spam group knows how many PCs they can control with this spambot, it is assumed to be a high five figure number. If each of the PCs is instructed to send 200-300 spam messages containing a PDF attachment the spammers can send hundreds or millions of spam messages in a day – equivalent to 25% of all spam sent on a given day,” Marshal’s Bradley Anstis, director of product management, told iTWire.

“The bot receives instructions from a ‘command & control’ server and checks back periodically for new data. All the spammers have to do is press a few buttons and they can start sending pink spam with pictures, flowers and happy Valentine’s messages. The next day they can turn around and send millions of spam with a totally different message and make-up. For them it is entirely automated set-and-forget system,” Anstis says.




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