Preventing A Sequel To Sony’s Hacking

One of the worst corporate hacks in recent memory, if not ever, may have been triggered by the failure of a sense of humor. Now no one at Sony Pictures is laughing either.

The movie studio suffered a devastating cyberattack by hackers calling themselves the Guardians of the Peace, who claim to have stolen 100 terabytes of corporate data. Of that, almost 40 gigabytes have appeared online, including salary information, staff members’ Social Security numbers and private operating information. Detailed compensation reports for Sony’s top executives have also been leaked. Consulting and auditing firm Deloitte was caught in the crossfire, as the hackers posted confidential data about the company that purportedly lived on Sony’s servers.

Several news outlets initially reported that Sony was investigating whether North Korea was behind the attack. The country’s government was previously vocal in its anger over Sony Picture’s upcoming release, “The Interview,” a comedy in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play hapless celebrity reporters recruited by the CIA in a plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un. The FBI said that reports North Korea had been verified as the attack’s source were inaccurate, but the agency and the movie studio both continued to seek more information.

When asked directly about its involvement by the BBC, the North Korean government initially refused to confirm or deny the allegations, instead saying, “Wait and see.” (1) Two days later, a North Korean diplomat in New York issued a direct denial that the country’s government was involved. Investigators speaking anonymously to The Washington Post, however, have said that Pyongyang’s involvement is likely. (2)

Many have been quick to observe the ways in which this incident itself seems ripe for the cinematic treatment. But the situation’s inherent comedy, if any, is soured by the backdrop against which this attack played out.

In March, the Obama administration announced it would end U.S. protection of the open Internet, by relinquishing control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. ICANN, a California-based nonprofit, is the key body in Internet governance, and it has long operated under contract with Commerce Department. The current contract is set to expire in 2015. At that time, the administration plans to turn the reins over to the vaguely defined “global Internet community.”

It is an awful move. In the short term, the question is whether ICANN’s contract will be renewed next year. In an opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz wrote that ICANN has admitted it will not be able to meet next September’s deadline for answering key questions such as “What mechanisms are needed to ensure Icann’s accountability to the multi-stakeholder community once [the U.S.] has disengaged from its stewardship role?” The fact that no answer exists should give everyone pause. At the very least, the government should extend ICANN’s contract sufficiently to give the agency more time to come up with workable answers.

But that really does not go far enough. Even friendly governments have entirely different views of freedom of speech and information than we do. Consider Europe’s “right to be forgotten” and the subsequent exposure of American multinational companies to punitive actions by democratic governments. And this from countries that we trust and respect. The more disturbing specter comes in the form of attempts by repressive governments to outright control the flow of information. China recently hosted an Internet conference to promote, among other things, national sovereignty over the Internet. We know what that will look like behind the Great Firewall.

The Internet as it exists today grows out of deeply imprinted American DNA, which manifests in its free and relatively unrestricted flow of information. This is a major plus in terms of commerce, education and freedom, but a vulnerability in that it creates opportunities for foreign governments to orchestrate attacks such as the recent one on Sony Pictures. Whether or not North Korea is involved, it is evident that it realistically could have been. Depending on the way in which events unfold, it may come to pass that certain countries or regions will have to be excluded from the open Internet for the security of actors on the world stage operating in good faith.

But it is really a betrayal of fundamental American ideals for the president to unilaterally give up American control of this American creation for no apparent pressing reason. Even our allies who think American protections for free expression go too far realize that our commitment to the open Internet is the bulwark against its subversion by oppressive regimes, and that any defense against attempts at this subversion will need to be led by Americans.

There is nothing wrong with the Internet’s current governance. The administration ought to leave it alone while it focuses on unraveling the Sony whodunit and preventing future sequels.

Sources:

1) BBC, “North Korea refuses to deny Sony Pictures cyber-attack”

2) The Washington Post, “Sony Pictures hack appears to be linked to North Korea, investigators say”

How and Where to Find Wholesale Pet Products?

Purchasing wholesale of pet stuffs is a very much conventional strategy in acquiring pets’ necessities if you want to have a sufficient supply of pet food and products for a period of time. Besides wholesale purchases prove to be more cost-effective because prices are at a very low cost thus more savings for the consumer.

Numerous wholesale companies specializing in pet products are widespread throughout the market. The Internet is the best place to look for these online business owners that basically put up sale of a variety of pet products particularly for pet needs.

Popular companies of pet products include Medi+Pet USA, Inc., Doggie Up, Blue Grass Trading Post, Maul Sales, Just Light That, Nisway Corp., Fastags, Petedge, Pettease, Karen Keepsakes, Pjee Corp., and North Coast Pets. These pet companies mainly provide numerous selections of products for your pet dogs. Few of these products range from dog collar charms to personalized tags and collars to pet first aid kits, dog grooming kits and even to pet waste disposal.

Basically, there are a lot of potential wholesalers that cater your pet needs. All you have to do is search them on the net and expect that with your online wholesale purchase, you will definitely obtain quality products for appropriate product costs.

These sites mainly sell almost the same variety of merchandises that provide every consumer’s requirement. They are well-organized and accessible to shop, with high-quality to claim. What set apart them among each other is their product pricing. This is where competition mostly stems up, and this is also what a consumer to weigh down.

There are many cost-effective offers, special coupons and low-cost deals provided by online pet product wholesalers. Few of these suppliers have retail outlets that consumers can find bargain goods. They offer purchases where you can save for as much as 50%.

These companies do not hastily engage in this kind of product marketing without broad knowledge of it. Consumers could also ask and obtain a lot of information regarding pet behavior, health, and pet community interaction from them.

Merchant Accounts – Which Option Fits Your Company?

If you are the owner of a company that has yet to set up a merchant services account for credit card processing, odds are your company is either very new or very old.

For new companies just getting started, there are so many other things to worry about while getting set up that credit card processing can seem too confusing and intimidating to jump right into. On the other hand, there are plenty of older businesses that have been thriving for years which may have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.

But the plain fact is that the ability to process credit card transactions is only going to become more necessary as the years go on. And while business may be booming without using merchant services today, it may not be that way in the years and months to come.

Luckily, there are merchant service accounts for companies of all types and sizes, and with just a little bit of research you will quickly realize that credit card processing is not nearly as complicated as you may suspect. For starters, let’s take a look at the different types of merchant accounts and figure out which one is the right fit for your company.

Retail Swipe Terminal

Does your company deal with the customer face-to-face? Do you have a real “bricks and mortar” business and handle most of your transactions in real-time? Then you are a perfect candidate for a retail swipe terminal.

These are the machines you see at any grocery stores or retail outlets where you simply swipe your credit or debit card. One of the advantages of this type of processing is that it has the lowest merchant account processing fees. This is because you can actually see the customer and swipe their card.
Since you can do things like ask to see identification to compare the name on the card with, merchant services companies believe that there is a much lower risk of fraud. This is why they charge the low processing fees. It is less of a risk to them.

Retail swipe terminals are becoming more and more popular and necessary to businesses today. People expect to be able to pay on their card when they go shopping, and many of them aren’t going to be willing to go walk around and find an ATM when they realize they can’t pay with their card. Even if they do go out of their way to get cash the first time, in the future they may choose to do their repeat shopping with a company that will accept their card.

Real-Time Processing

Does your company do a lot of business over the Internet? Do you have or wish to set up an online store where your customers can easily search for products and order them with a few clicks of a button? Then you should consider real-time processing.

Everything is done completely automatically with this type of processing. Your customers simply enter all of the applicable information and the money will be processed by your merchant account and deposited in your business checking account within a few short days.

Real-time processing is completely secure and in most cases there is no need to buy a secure certificate. This way of processing credit cards over the Internet is almost a necessity when it comes to setting up an online store. It is a great way to expand your business across your region, around the country, and maybe even throughout the world.

Virtual Terminal

Do you sell on the Internet, but expect to receive some of your orders over the phone, through the mail, or by fax? Then you are going to want to set up a virtual terminal in addition to your real-time processing.

The virtual terminal is, in fact, very simple. It is just a secure website where you can login and type in your customer’s credit card information. After that it is processed through the merchant account and the funds are transferred to your account within a few days.

One of the nice aspects of the virtual terminal is that it can be accessed from any computer that is hooked up to the Internet. This allows the virtual terminal to act as a mobile processing solution as well. A lot of real-time processing plans already include virtual terminals for free, or at a very small price.

Wireless Merchant Solutions

Are you a merchant who is literally “on the go”? Do you own a vending cart or do you your sales while on the road? There are two types of mobile solutions that can help to grow your business.

The first is a touch-tone solution. This is a great option for smaller merchants who can’t afford a high start-up cost. You simply take your customers credit card information and process it manually over a touch-tone phone.

If, however, you can afford the startup cost then the best way to go is to actually buy a wireless swipe terminal. This pays off in the long run because many of the free terminals have high termination fees. After you have purchased the wireless swipe terminal it works just like any normal retail swipe terminal.

The time to take advantage of the world of merchant services is now. More and more businesses every day are discovering credit card processing solutions that are allowing their businesses to grow beyond their wildest dreams. Don’t get left behind. Get on board today.