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We are pleased to announce that Michael Krongel has joined the Board of Directors of Transaction Resources, Inc.

With over 30 years of experience in the resort industry, Mike brings to TRI a unique understanding of resort operations and resort development. Mike was a senior executive with American Skiing Company, originally in Bethel, ME and then of Park City, Utah. He was also the lead corporate officer focused upon business acquisition for the American Skiing Company.

 

Michael Krongel"I am pleased to be joining the Board of TRI. I trust my experience in working with closely held companies, advising on matters of operations, mergers and acquisitions, and working with multi-generational owners will be beneficial to TRI and its shareholders. On a personal note, having known two of the three principals for the last 20 years or so, and having met the rest of the senior team, this role makes it all the more enjoyable and meaningful to me."

~ Mike

 

Mike is currently a Director of Mirus Resort Capital, focusing on operating resorts and middle market companies in the travel and recreation industry. He also sits on the Board of Directors of Boyne Resorts, a Michigan-based resort operating company. Boyne operates ski areas, golf courses, mountain resorts and waterfront resort hotels across the US and in Canada.

 

Mike is an active fund raiser on behalf of cancer research. He is married and resides in Newton, Massachusetts.

 

We look forward to having Mike’s insight and expertise on the TRI team!

 

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Maintaining Customers' Credit Card Security

 

If you have access to any news media you may have experienced some amount of anxiety upon hearing that Target inadvertently shared approximately 70 to 110 million of its customers’ private information with hackers through the later 2013 holiday period. You probably also know that 90 million records were stolen from T. J. Maxx in 2005, the most extensive data breach until Target’s misfortune. What is clear to date is that this can happen again. Hackers are resilient and persistent. It might require years of probing, testing and information gathering, but the payoff for these felons is outstanding!


hacker-with-blue-mask-300In Target’s case, hackers were able to obtain not only customers’ credit card numbers, PINs and expiration dates at the Point of Sale (POS), but also private financial and personal information required for credit card applications, such as home addresses and email addresses. This latter compromise occurred in the company’s central computers.


Normally, the unauthorized purchases made by credit card-only data can be corrected easily. A phone call to the credit card company explaining the unauthorized purchase(s) typically results in quick refunds to the account. Consumer victims involved in the Target breach who reported the stolen data to their credit card companies have no liability for fraudulent transactions, though inconvenienced and stressed by the situation.


On the other hand, the deeper data collected by Target’s hackers enables dangerous Identity Fraud. Once theft ensues, the damage to the finances of the victim may require legal counsel to assert actual identity ownership and recoup losses. Though bank accounts are insured, an account may be wiped clean of savings before it’s noticed. The waiting period to verify the roots of the theft is a time-consuming endeavor for a bank, thus assuring a delay of the return of the customer’s money to their account. Fraudulent mortgages and loans are also made possible with a sufficient breadth of data.


How Could This Happen?


During an interview on NPR, Mark Rasch, a former Justice Department prosecutor for cyber crimes, explains that after magnetic strips are read at the POS/register, but before cards credit cards are security encrypted, RAM (random access memory) scraper software can steal the data and send it to hackers. The information is often sold to willing identity thieves. Where Target’s central office computers are concerned, a hacking “research” operation may have been underway for years, undetected. Krebson Security reports that credit and debit card accounts stolen in the recent Target data breach have been flooding underground black card markets, selling in batches of one million cards, for asking prices of between $20 to more than $100 per card. 


The damage to a business’s reputation is also considerable, especially to one of Target’s size. The News Media performs the service of alerting customers with the hopeful effect of reducing their losses, but the news obviously rocks the merchant’s stability, as well the greater economy. Fortunately, reputations seem to rebound after some time. Target took some hits after the reports in December, but both Target and T. J. Maxx are essentially back on track.


How Do They Return to The Top after Such A Fall?


We can’t provide insight into the legal supports and PR that the Big Stores employed to regain their security and status respectively. We do know that preventative measures must be employed first. TRI offers substantial security services that protect your customers and business.


Credit cards as a method of payment is assured for years to come. Protect your customers by taking steps to secure their data - and maintain your good name - with TRI’s Service Protection Program (SPP). The SPP is the first step in financially protecting your merchant account against the costs incurred and fines imposed in the event of a security breach.


Transaction Resources, Inc. has partnered with SecurityMetrics to offer the SecurityMetrics Assurance Program. This program safeguards sensitive customer data. It includes PANscan (primary account numbers scan), which searches business networks, workstations, and storage devices for PAN and magnetic stripe track data. After scans are complete, a summary report points you to the location of found card data, making it easy to delete. See additional program features >> 

 

 


If you are a Target customer, please visit their website for helpful information.

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Since 2001 XP has been the chosen operating system (OS) for a majority of business computers with 38% of enterprises still relying on it as of Fall 2012. The OS simply worked very well.

 

Arguably, it worked better than several subsequent Window OS's. Though threats loomed to eliminate it, its popularity assured its support by Microsoft - until now. For die-hards who feel they won't or can't make the change to another OS at this juncture, please note there will be serious security and software implications.

 

XP-gravestoneIf you have XP this is the time to change your OS, but not before doing your research first.

 

Using a different OS also means software upgrades or changes to ones that will be compatible with the new system. ISVs, or "independent software vendors" (third-party developers) already have or will soon drop support for their XP programs. Credit Card payment software is among them.

 

If you use your computer as a Point of Sale (POS) to process any credit card transactions then you will want to check with your POS support provider first to make sure their POS programming can work on your new Windows version. Your POS provider can help you determine if you will be able to upgrade to either Windows 7 or Windows 8 without any interruption in your service. If you are unsure of who your POS provider is please call our TRI Customer Service Team to see if they can assist you: 1-888-494-9988 x 2

 

Lincoln Spector, a contributor to PC World explains, "The end of support means the end of updates--even security updates. When an exploit is found after that date, too bad; it will not get patched. Gradually, Windows XP will become less and less secure." The vulnerability could be immediate. The reason there are so many updates and patches with any of the Microsoft OS products is its prevalence of use worldwide. Malevolent activity has fixed itself where it can do the most harm.

 

Windows 8's desktop appearance and function at face value are similar to that of mobile devices, with direct media access, such as photos and single-click connections to social media and news media venues. IT professional Patrick Gray and contributor for Tech Republic recommends obtaining a copy of Windows 7, which is similar to XP in appearance and function: "Windows 7 seems the most compelling migration path. The OS is mature and stable, hardware compatibility is mature, and thousands of organizations have already blazed the trail to Windows 7, identifying most of the caveats. Unlike Windows 8, the after end-user will require little familiarization training with the new UI. Windows 7 buys you extended support until 2020, giving Microsoft several years to perfect their vision for the future of computing."

 

There are other options of course. We don't venture to make any OS recommendations, but it is clear that the required change is finally at hand and TRI can only encourage you to have your IT professional research what will work best for your business type and make the change before April 8, 2014. In the meantime, be sure that your version of XP is regularly and completely updated.

 

Please note: Your computer with XP may not be compatible with the the newer OS's (e.g., Windows 7 or 8). Purchasing a new computer with the new OS installed may be your only route for a supported OS. But most certainly your new computer will be a better machine.


Added March 18, 2015: Geeksquad presents a list of recommendations and useful insights for those who would not or could not give up their computer running with XP OS. TRI is not endorsing the maintenance of XP as it both: leaves your computer more vulnerable to viruses. Furthermore, software that is updated to modern operating system standards, such as that which would enable payment processing, may not function.