WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Secure your online payments to avoid massive fraud

A new report this week from Warfield & Associates found 89 cases of fraud over the past 11 years resulted in nearly $400 million stolen from small businesses.

What’s even more disturbing is that for over 40 of these, the money was stolen through electronic transfer systems.

It’s yet another reminder of why businesses need to keep an extra eye on the online transaction systems. Too many businesses have multiple people operating the transaction system, or have people sharing passwords.

Instead, SMEs need to have only an authorised group of people operating the EFT system, and regularly check to make sure all the transactions are in order. The more often you double check, the less likely you’ll get ripped off.

Keep everything digital

This week a joint venture between Salmat and Computershare won a trademark dispute with Australia Post. The joint venture, called “Digital Post Australia”, is a type of digital post box where users can receive bills and other information – usually sent through the post – in their own online storage account.

Australia Post lost the trademark dispute, and Digital Post Australia will be able to continue trading.

The trademark dispute is interesting in itself, but the concept of the Digital Post Box brings up a key issue about how customers are able to receive information.

Most companies allow users to receive their bills in email format now, and most telcos actually charge extra money to receive them in the mail.

If you haven’t done this for your customers, then you definitely should. And not just for bills, either. If you have catalogues or any information that you would send in the mail, work on putting them in digital format. Not only will you make it easier for your customers, but you’ll save on costs as well.

Secure sensitive information as quickly as possible

The director-general of ASIO said this week businesses should keep a watchful eye for cybercrime directed at their business, as some offshore hackers will attempt to steal government information through commercial means.

This means some businesses may be under attack, especially businesses that are in some way connected to the government and its operations.

You only have to look at the huge number of businesses attacked in the past year to see that’s not necessarily out of the question.

For SMEs, this means if you’re dealing with government information in any way, then you need to be especially sure that you have it locked down. You can’t spend too much money on security – and you don’t want to be responsible for the leaking of sensitive information.

Spy the opportunity for cheaper pricing

The Treasury’s submission to the IT pricing inquiry last week said the commission shouldn’t focus too much on mandating any type of price control. Instead, it said, it should focus on making the current business environment better for competitors in the IT space.

It also said there was plenty of space in the IT market for competitive pricing and delivery.

That’s obviously easier said than done. But it’s true there are plenty of opportunities here for smart companies willing to take a dip into the cheap pricing of services. There’s obviously a thirst for cheaper IT – otherwise the inquiry wouldn’t be happening in the first place.

You don’t have to change your model. But surely there are areas where a savvy IT company could tap into the need for cheaper consumer services. If you see such an opportunity, it may be worth exploring.


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