Saturday, October 23, 2010

Using VoIP with a Credit Card Processing Terminal is Risky Business

Processing Credit Card Payments Using Credit Card Terminals with VoIP / Digital Phone Lines Is Not PCI Complaint

Millions of people running small businesses; especially home based businesses, also have VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) / Digital Phone Line services from their Internet Service Provider (ISP) in their homes and businesses. Many also use Point-of-Sale Terminals made initally for old fashion phone lines; not Digital Lines. If you are a merchant and use a card processing terminal which connects via VoIP or Digital Phone Lines to transmit and process credit card payments, then you are not PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant; you are at risk of losing your credit card processing privileges or can be sued by your customers whose data is stolen. Credit Card data that is processed over VoIP services are transmitted in the clear over Public Networks (The Internet) and their is no way to encrypt the data.

Excellent article on this topic can be found at The Merchant Account Blog:

Note: Most VoIP providers do not utilize encryption

When these terminals are connected to a true analog phone line the merchant is operating within PCI Compliance. This is so because it is very unlikely that data can be stolen over an old fashion telephone line while processing credit card payments. An attacker would have to tap into your home or business phone line to steal credit card data and that is highly unlikely to happen so this is rated as very low risk.

VoIP is very susceptible to Man-in-the-middle attacks, where an attacker can eavesdrop or alter the originating message by anyone on the internet; in this case capturing your customers sensitive credit card information. Most credit card phone line processing terminals won't work over VoIP services because of dropped packets, but even failed attempts to try and process credit cards over VoIP could lead to an attacker stealing customer credit card data. See diagram below.

Man In The Middle Attack

Work Around To Be PCI Compliant

Many of these credit card terminals also have an Ethernet Port (RS232) and can easily process customer credit card payments via an encrypted connection over the internet. You may need to contact your credit card processing provider to help you get it setup; usually at no additional cost! See picture below.

Another work around is to switch to a Wireless Credit Card Terminal. Note, these terminals incurre higher business expenses as compared to a dial-up phone line terminal. These terminals use GPRS/ Cell phone technology just like moble phones do to securely connect and encrypt the credit card transaction, which is PCI compliant. A wireless credit card processing terminal is great for businesses who sell goods or services on the road. See Wireless Credit Card Terminal below.

More Secure and Convenient Credit Card Processing Method

Wireless Credit Card Processing Terminal

19 Year Old Demonstrates VoIP Hacking - Scary Stuff!

Be careful out there!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hip Hop Can Influence Kids To Pursue STEM Careers

Dr. Dre who is one of the best music producers in Hip Hop history is making his mark these days as an Engineering and Technology innovator. Dr. Dre has the hottest selling brand of High-Tech headphones on the market, and everyone from the B-Boy to the corporate executive wants a pair. 

Time Magazine - The Beats by Dre Headphones are state of the art because they incorporate High-Tech Noise Canceling circuitry.

though they have some noise-canceling tech built in to them — the Beats are designed to enhance the listener's enjoyment of music rather than drown out the snores of your seatmate. Dre, who for three years collaborated with Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and audio "connectivity" company
Monster® to create the Beats, says his goal was to give people a way to "hear what the artists hear and listen to the music the way they should — the way I do."

In other words Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ headphones produce the same sounds that studio engineers listen to on full size speakers. Additionally, a high end pair can range from $199 to $450 bucks.

The audio company Bose™ is the standard leader in premium priced headphones, and from many of the reviews I have read, Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ headphones are equal or far superior than Bose™ branded premium headphones--I bet they are not sleeping well at Bose these days, because they would of expected competition from a electronic giant like Sony™ not from a hardcore Hip Hop artist; you have got to love it!

Noise Canceling Diagram

As you can see from the figure above, there is some intricate expertise that needs to be known to design the Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ headphones. The cool thing is that anyone can learn to design electronic circuits at any two year community college with an Electronic Engineering or Technology program. Hip Hop has the star power to influence million s of kids; particularly minorities, to pursue STEM careers. A movement can be started if the right people work together and clearly paint a picture of superior opportunities for kids either as working professionals or as entrepreneurs like Dr. Dre; and even Snoop Dogg.

Technology makes magic happen and can turn your wildest ideas and fantasies in to fruition. Hip Hop has a fierce and powerful youthful force that has ears listening from neighborhood streets to Wall street. I feel that STEM education when fused with Hip Hop can ignite a sleeping giant in our country that will keep America innovating unbelievable new products and services, which will keep the U.S. as the number one economy in the world.

In closing, I have to leave you with this bad futuristic Hewlett Packard™ (HP) commercial showcasing a HP laptop integrated with Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ technology and Rapper NAS's video to the youth "I Can". Hip Hop Makes STEM Careers too cool!

NAS - I Can



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