10 Budgeting Tips to Keep Your Business Costs Down

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If you’re a small business owner, you know every dollar counts toward the success of your company. If you can keep your operational costs down, you can give your business the safety net it needs for when times get lean.

But learning how to effectively budget can be a challenge for many entrepreneurs, and is often the key reason small companies go out of business. To find out the best ways for companies to budget and lower their costs, we asked 10 members of YEC Next the following question:

Q. What’s one smart budgeting tip for small business owners to keep costs down?

1. Invest in smart employees

This answer might sound funny, but if you are running a small business, the smarter and more creative your employees are, the better off you will be. Rather than hiring people who can only work within the confines of their past experience, hire those who are versatile and able to learn to do tasks they have not done previously. Two or three versatile workers are better than five single-minded ones. —Bryan Driscoll, Think Big Marketing, LLC

2. Join an accelerator program

When starting a small business, it is important to surround yourself with mentors and resources that will help your business grow. By participating in an industry-based accelerator program, you will be aligned with mentors in your industry, gain assistance with perfecting your pitch to raise capital, and receive amazing networking opportunities in your line of business. —Jilea Hemmings, Best Tyme

3. Find yourself a coworking space

Push off the decision for permanent office space. There are a number of organizations offering office space for rent (some will include mail delivery, receptionists, etc.). Coworking spaces are rapidly gaining popularity, as they are a simple and affordable solution. Moreover, these environments are highly conducive to networking, and the organizations often hold events to support member growth. —Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.

4. Outsource appropriately

The internet allows you to hire people anywhere in the world for various jobs. Identify high-value activities for the investment of your time, and delegate the rest. Figure out how much value your time is worth per hour, and if there is a task that someone can do for much less, then you know you should delegate it. —Shan Rizvi, Just Ads

5. Keep your processes simple

Don’t overcomplicate your business or get stuck paying high monthly fees by inflating your processes. The more you overcomplicate your processes—and the more products, attachments, plugins, and people you need to run them—the higher your costs. Keep things simple and effective, write down processes, and delegate as you grow. —Melissa Rautenberg, Latin & Code, LLC

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

6. Validate spend with data

As a small startup, it’s easy to believe that the answer to all of your problems is funding. In reality, most startups fail not because of lack of funding, but because of spending too quickly and misuse of funds. One way to overcome this is to first allocate a small budget toward testing and validating your assumptions. With this data, you can make better decisions on how to properly spend. —Kyle Wiggins, Keteka

7. Hire a bookkeeper

As a small business owner, you’re extremely busy. Oftentimes, keeping your books is bottom of the list—meaning it doesn’t get done. Hiring a bookkeeper ensures your books are current, as well as being done correctly. It’s near impossible to budget without having your books up-to-date. The small fee charged is well worth it so you can have accurate numbers and reports for accurate budget decisions. —Zack Hanebrink, HookLead

8. Use QuickBooks

Get QuickBooks and understand your finances. I’ve seen so many startups, too many times, not have a clear understanding on where every dollar is going in their early days. Capital and people are your lifeblood; track and understand metrics just like you do your product. —Ravi Kurani, Sutro

9. Audit regularly

All of the little charges add up. Spend time once a month reviewing charges and figuring out what recurring charges you’re not actually using. It’s easy to let these small charges slide, so try to stay on top of auditing and removing charges that aren’t necessary moving forward. —Ryan O’Connell, Boomn

10. Ask for discounts

You would not believe the number of products that have given us discounts just because we’ve asked. From time tracking to bookkeeping, to staple products like Sketch or Photoshop, it all adds up at the end of the month. So, we started asking for discounts on the tools we loved the most. It’s been amazingly helpful to get 10% here, 15% there, off products we couldn’t live without. —Justin Mitchell, SoFriendly

RELATED: The Best Ways to Finance Cash Flow Emergencies

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Mobile Payment Market May Hit $4.6 Trillion by 2023

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The value of the mobile payment market was $601 billion in 2016, and it will reach $4,574 billion (approx. $4.6 trillion) by 2023. These are the conclusions of an Allied Market Research survey. Incidentally, major companies in this market have enabled — or are planning to enable —Bitcoin payment features in their apps.


Survey: The Short-Message-Service Segment Will Continue To Grow

The payment for goods or services or exchange of money performed through smartphones and other mobile devices is surging exponentially.

The Allied Market Research study classifies the mode of the transactions into short message service (SMS), near-field communication (NFC), and wireless application protocol (WAP). And it concludes that the SMS is the segment that will grow the most. Specifically, “The SMS segment dominated the mobile payment industry in 2016 and is anticipated to grow at a rate of 33.5% during the forecast period.”

Global Mobile Payments Market
Although the mobile payment market is still in the maturity phase, customers rapidly appreciate how easy and convenient the method is. As a result, mobile phones are now replacing credit cards. Next, arguably, Bitcoin (BTC) 00 could eventually replace fiat money.

In effect, companies that dominate the mobile payment market today are already focusing on introducing Bitcoin and other crypto technologies for payment purposes.

Since Square, Inc. added Bitcoin trading features to its payment app, the value of its stock shares has skyrocketed. As of this writing, SQ is hitting a value of USD $100 per share, as shown in the chart below:

Mobile market

Square’s management remains optimistic about the penetration of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into the mobile payment market. Consequently, the company relentlessly continues its efforts to expand the use of cryptocurrencies. For example, last August, the company tweeted that it was expanding the Cash App to all 50 U.S. states.

Additional Mobile Payment Company Jumps on the Bitcoin Wagon

On September 22, 2017, Square obtained approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a new payment method patent that would allow merchants to accept any currency, including crypto ones. According to the filing document:

The disclosed technology addresses the need in the art for a payment service capable of accepting a greater diversity of currencies…including virtual currencies including cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, ether, etc.)

Likewise, USPTO granted MasterCard a patent for a method of speeding up cryptocurrency transactions, according to the document published in July 2018.

Glance Technologies Inc. is also enabling payments with Bitcoin. According to a press release dated September 18, 2018:

The new feature, Pay With Bitcoin, will enable Glance Pay users to pair their cryptocurrency wallet with their Glance Pay account, and then purchase Glance Dollars with Bitcoin. Glance Dollars represent a credit that can be spent instantly at participating merchants within the Glance Pay ecosystem.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, Glance Technologies plans to roll-out Pay with Bitcoin this fiscal year.

What do you think about the growth of mobile payment companies providing peer-to-peer and Bitcoin payment services? Let us know in the comments below.

______________________________________________________________________

Images courtesy of Allied Market Research, Ameritrade, Shutterstock, Twitter/@CashApp.

The post Mobile Payment Market May Hit $4.6 Trillion by 2023 appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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WordPress to Static Site Generator (Hugo) Migration and Deployment

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TL;DR — This article will show you how to migrate a simple WordPress website to a static site generator (Hugo) and host it for free on either Netlify or GitHub Pages.

GitHub Repository for this demo / Demo Site

Jump to Getting Started

What is Hugo?

Hugo Logo

Hugo is a static HTML and CSS website generator written in Go. It is optimized for speed, ease of use, and configurability. Hugo takes a directory with content and templates and renders them into a full HTML website.

Hugo relies on Markdown files with front matter for metadata, and you can run Hugo from any directory. This works well for shared hosts and other systems where you don’t have a privileged account.

Hugo renders a typical website of moderate size in a fraction of a second. A good rule of thumb is that each piece of content renders in around 1 millisecond.
Hugo is designed to work well for any kind of website including blogs, tumbles, and docs.

(https://github.com/gohugoio/hugo#overview)

What is GitHub Pages?

GitHub Pages is a static site hosting service designed to host your personal, organization, or project pages directly from a GitHub repository.

(https://help.github.com/articles/what-is-github-pages/)

What is Netlify?

Netlify is perfecting a unified platform that automates your code to create high-performant, easily-maintainable sites and web-apps.

(https://www.netlify.com/press/)

Getting Started

To get started, you will need to create a new GitHub repository for your Hugo project.

Inside the repository, we will create a new hugo site.

Steps:

  1. Install Hugo:
brew install hugo

2. Create a New Site in your repository’s directory:

hugo new site . --force

3. Add a Theme (the current theme I am using is called sustain):

git clone https://github.com/nurlansu/hugo-sustain.git themes/hugo-sustain

4. Update the config.toml file (depending on your theme):

baseurl = "https://hugo-blog-demo.netlify.com/"
languageCode = "en-US"
title = "Hugo Site"
disqusShortname = ""
googleAnalytics = ""
theme = "hugo-sustain"
[permalinks]
post = "/:year/:month/:day/:slug"
[params]
avatar = "profile.png"
author = "Author Name"
description = "Describe your website"
custom_css = []
custom_js = []
[params.social]
Github = "username"
Email = "email@example.com"
Twitter = "username"
LinkedIn = "username"
Stackoverflow = "username"
Medium = "username"
Telegram = "username"
[[menu.main]]
name = "blog"
weight = 100
identifier = "blog"
url = "/blog/"
[[menu.main]]
name = "projects"
identifier = "projects"
weight = 200
url = "/projects/"
[[menu.main]]
name = "resume"
identifier = "resume"
weight = 300
url = "/resume/"

5. Add Content:

hugo new blog/my-first-post.md

When you serve your website locally, you should be able to see the Hugo site up and running.

hugo server
localhost:1313/blog

WordPress Migration

You can skip to the Website Deployment section if you are not migrating a WordPress website to Hugo.

Exporting the Content

We will be the Jekyll Exporter WordPress plugin to migrate current WordPress content over to Hugo. This plugin converts all your posts, pages, images, and content on WordPress into files that will work with Hugo.

Now we can copy over the converted blog post files exported from the plugin into Hugo, inside /content/blog .

Keeping the Images

To keep any images, you can copy over the exportedwp-content folder into the static folder in your Hugo project. Anything inside the static folder can be referenced relatively. Example: /wp-content/uploads/image.jpg

If you have any blog posts referencing these images, you can do a find a replace inside the Hugo project to replace your WordPress website’s absolute path with a relative path. Example: http://wordpress-domain.com/wp-content/uploads/image.jpg will be changed to /wp-content/uploads/image.jpg

Migrated Blog Post

Website Deployment

To host and deploy your Hugo website for free. You can either use Netlify or GitHub Pages.

Netlify

Steps to deploy using Netlify:

  1. First signup for a Netlify account.
  2. Create a new site linked to your GitHub repository.
  3. Select your options and deploy.

After you hit deploy, it should build and deploy to a Netlify subdomain. Netlify also comes with Continuous Deployment, depending on how you set it up. By default, every time you push to Github, Netlify builds the master branch of your repository and deploys to Netlify’s Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Example: each time a commit is pushed to the master branch of my repository Netlify builds and deploys to https://hugo-blog-demo.netlify.com/

Furthermore, you can add your own custom domain to Netlify.

GitHub Pages

Steps to deploy using GitHub Pages:

  1. Create another repository with .github.io to host the Hugo website.
  2. In your original Hugo project repository, add your .github.io repository as a submodule:
git submodule add -b master git@github.com:/.github.io.git public
git push

3. Create a deploy script called deploy.sh in the root of your Hugo project repository:

#!/bin/bash
echo -e "33[0;32mDeploying updates to GitHub...33[0m"
# Build the project.
hugo -t hugo-sustain --baseURL="https://hugo-demo.github.io/" # if using a theme, replace by `hugo -t `
# Go To Public folder
cd public
# Add changes to git.
git add -A
# Commit changes.
msg="rebuilding site `date`"
if [ $# -eq 1 ]
then msg="$1"
fi
git commit -m "$msg"
# Push source and build repos.
git push origin master
# Come Back
cd ..

4. Run the deploy script:

sh deploy.sh

5. The site should now be deployed at https://.github.io

More on GitHub page deploys if you want to use project pages or deploy from a different branch.

https://hugo-blog-demo.netlify.com/

GitHub Repository for this demo / Demo Site

Phong Huynh
Software Developer
@xphong


WordPress to Static Site Generator (Hugo) Migration and Deployment was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How Blockchain Data Storage Can Work for Enterprise Data Management

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Data is booming, thanks to technologies ranging from IoT through to blockchain applications. Decentralised storage offers an excellent opportunity to manage the immense amounts of enterprise data collected by companies around the world. But why it’s worth combining decentralised storage with blockchain and what benefits can blockchain data storage offer? Let’s take a look.

Enterprises have moved away from centralised, local data storage to instead make use of cloud providers for storage. Most cloud solutions still involve the storage of enterprise data in a single (or a few) locations, and these are managed by a single provider. Cloud facilities are outsourced, but essentially centralised. While decentralisation moves data storage into the next realm, many experts share the opinion that blockchain data storage can soon become a new standard.

“The way we treat data is likely to change massively”, says Anatoliy Lytovchenko, Head of Software Engineering and Development Office at ELEKS. “People start realising that their personal data is a valuable asset: some want to trade it, some would prefer to keep it private. Centralised data storage becomes an attractive target for hackers, so logically, blockchain with its promise of security and disruptive features can become a winning option.”

Why use decentralised data storage?

  • Bullet-proof security. Cleary, decentralised data storage will only work if security is tight, and the data encryption typically applied to decentralised storage is extremely strong. Decentralised networks also remove single points of failure because your storage is not dependent on a single actor, or a single location.
  • Immutability. Decentralised networks can borrow from blockchain functionality, ensuring that no single party is in control of data. Data becomes immutable — in other words, guaranteed to be correct — because a correct copy is stored in multiple places.
  • Optimized costs. Storage that is decentralised optimises costs because storage marketplaces make use of capacity that is already spare. There is no need to buy infrastructure to store your enterprise data, it is simply committed to decentralised storage that is already available.
  • Scalable infrastructure. Storage marketplaces are vast networks with massive storage capacity. These decentralised networks can adapt to your requirements: scaling up when necessary, scaling down when no longer needed.

Decentralised data storage and blockchain is a powerful combination

Decentralised data storage relates closely to blockchains because many of the concepts overlap. Blockchain itself is a decentralised data storage network, but the way blockchain operates makes it better suited to storing and handling transactional data.

Blockchains can be used for secure document transfer in multiple areas. However, blockchain data storage cannot cope well with large amounts of raw data. This is where decentralised networks can lend a helping hand to blockchains.

Until recently many of the popular decentralised apps (dApps) that are blockchain-driven had to make use of traditional cloud storage providers for data storage. But cloud storage is not a good match for incredibly dynamic blockchain applications. The concept of decentralised data storage (which includes storage marketplaces) provides a way forward, enabling apps such as prediction markets to flourish, unencumbered by the vast amounts of data that needs to be stored and processed.

Which sectors benefit from blockchain data storage?

The cost and scalability of decentralised storage make it suited to a vast array of industries. That said, features such as the immutability of data and the potential for extremely high levels of security have a narrower but incredibly valuable purpose. These features make blockchain data storage particularly well suited for industries that are highly regulated, such as healthcare and financial services. Protecting data and verifying the validity of stored data is paramount for enterprises operating in the fields of health and finance.

Just as cloud computing carries risks due to the involvement of third parties in data handling, so does blockchain data storage. Any technology that relies on distributed networks require close monitoring, but the tight security measures applied to these technologies often result in extremely effective measures.

Yes, adopting new technologies, including blockchain and decentralised data storage, carries risks and costs, but these can be mitigated. Mitigation starts with the right partner. A partner that will also help your enterprise get the maximum benefit from advanced technology.

Get in touch with us to see how your business can realise the advantages of decentralisation, including decentralised data storage, and to get further insight into powerful applications such as blockchains and storage markets.

Originally published at eleks.com on August 3, 2018.


How Blockchain Data Storage Can Work for Enterprise Data Management was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Integrating Cosmic-powered Content with Hubspot

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Hubspot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Zapier gives people internet superpowers by allowing them to connect and automate the apps they use. Using Zapier to connect your Cosmic-powered content with Hubspot is easy and requires zero coding. In this article I’m going demonstrate how to add new form submissions to Hubspot when you Publish Objects in your Cosmic JS Bucket.

Click here to connect Cosmic JS to Hubspot using Zapier »

Select a Trigger App: Cosmic JS

Select Your Trigger Account

Select Your Trigger

Select an Action App: Hubspot

Select Hubspot Action

Select Your Hubspot Account

Testing

I set up a test to pull through New Published Objects in my Bucket to add a form in my Hubspot Dashboard: for this example the published Objects are populating a new form submission with an email address and photo attachment.

Zapier Test

Hubspot Test

Hubspot Dashboard View

Hubspot Email Notification

Your zap is now ready to be turned on and enjoyed! Now every time I publish a new Object in my Bucket, a new form submission will be submitted in Hubspot, ready for even faster team collaboration.

Conclusion

It’s easy to automate workflows with your favorite apps using the Cosmic JS Zapier Integration. By starting your content in an API, you’re ensuring ultimate portability and scalability of your content, workflows and processes.

If you have any comments or questions about integrating your Cosmic JS Objects into workflows with other apps using Zapier, reach out to us on Twitter and join the conversation on Slack.


Integrating Cosmic-powered Content with Hubspot was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Magecart 2.0: Architecture of a What-If

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This case study was developed by Jscrambler’s Research team.

During the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing an alarming number of attacks targeting several eCommerce and ticketing companies, stealing their clients’ credit card data.

Behind these attacks, we find a group of hackers named “Magecart”. In June 2018, the group attacked Ticketmaster and breached credit card data of 40,000 customers; two major attacks followed in September, affecting 380,000 British Airways customers and an unknown number of Newegg customers.

The modus operandi behind this series of attacks was very similar: injecting malicious JavaScript code which acts as a credit card skimmer. This code actively listens for events that happen on the web pages and triggers an action whenever credit card details are submitted (event hijacking). As so, Magecart was able to intercept this credit card data that users were inputting in the checkout pages and send it to the hackers’ servers.

While the result of these attacks was the same, Magecart used distinct approaches: in Newegg’s case, it directly compromised the eCommerce website’s server; in all others, it compromised a third-party tool that they were using.

With so many unanswered questions surrounding these attacks, we decided to delve into the topic. In this article, we clarify what happened and what could be done to minimize the impact of these and similar attacks.

How Can the Source Code Be Modified?

One key aspect of every Magecart attack is their ability to inject their own malicious code into JavaScript code that is running (or being loaded) in companies’ websites.

While this may seem like a complicated task — given the variety of security systems that most companies have in place — there are actually multiple ways to modify code, either directly in the server or in intermediary services (e.g. CDNs).

Compromising the Server

The most direct way of compromising the source code is directly accessing the server and modifying the files there. This can be achieved by gaining access to the server (either using stolen access credentials or brute forcing the authentication mechanism) or by exploiting server vulnerabilities leading to Remote Code Execution (e.g. known CMS vulnerabilities, outdated components, vulnerable plugins, among others).

Compromising In-transit Code

While the code is being sent from the server to the website, it’s also susceptible to modification. This can happen via Man-in-the-Middle attacks (not very frequent now due to HTTPS adoption), subdomain takeover and web cache poisoning.

Cache poisoning is especially relevant, given that it targets Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which are widely used nowadays. When source code is loaded from a CDN, an attacker can craft a request that tricks the origin into producing a malicious version of the script with the same cache key as an innocuous request. This script may get cached and served to end-users.

Compromising Repositories

Developers rely on an assortment of repositories during their workflow. While this is the status quo of the development process, it can also serve as a vehicle for injections. There have been cases of exploits in NPM packages (Node Package Manager) and Chrome Web Store extensions.

How Does This Compromise Companies?

Both Ticketmaster and British Airways were attacked via a third-party module. This is a very common scenario — these third-party modules are part of a typical integration scenario and are usually employed to add/extend functionalities. Analytics, Ads, and UX tools are some of the most widely used. Specifically, Ticketmaster was loading a module from company Inbenta, while British Airways was loading “Modernizr”, a JavaScript library.

When Magecart was able to inject their credit card skimmer code on these third-party modules, all websites that were loading them became immediately infected. As so, they started unknowingly serving the infected code to end-users, which could then steal their credit card data.

It’s here that we identify the major cause for concern: companies have had zero control and visibility over this code and that’s why it takes them several weeks — or even months — to identify these attacks.

The attack on Newegg had a different approach. It wasn’t due to a compromised third-party tool or library: Magecart managed to compromise the company’s server itself. Unlike the previous two cases, where the malicious code was being run in every web page, Magecart was able to inject the 15 lines of malicious JavaScript directly in the HTML of Newegg’s checkout page.

Even though Newegg is fully in control of this code, it still had zero visibility over the attack, that spanned for a full month. It’s likely that Newegg has several security systems in place, and yet they failed to prevent and detect the attack in a proper timeframe.

Prevention Strategies

After understanding how these attacks were perpetrated, it’s possible to identify some prevention strategies. Below, we highlight two security standards that should be considered against Magecart (and similar) attacks.

We will also detail how Magecart can evolve to become more dangerous and present a single strategy to address Magecart and “Magecart 2.0”.

1 — Subresource Integrity

A first security standard to be considered would be to add Subresource Integrity (SRI) attributes to the script elements loading the external scripts.

By checking the file integrity, the website will not load scripts that are different from the original ones. As so, malicious scripts won’t be loaded from third-parties. If we frame this to the Magecart attacks we analyzed before, we’re led to the conclusion that the third-party scripts would be stopped the minute they became compromised. Newegg’s case is different, as there was no script tag loading an external JavaScript resource: the script tag was added by the attacker.

However, SRI comes with a major pitfall: it’s notably complex to apply to dynamic code. And, as you may expect, most of these providers (like Inbenta) keep improving their services, which results on frequent changes to JavaScript source code. Adapting SRI to match this dynamic nature can be burdensome and, if SRI isn’t properly set up, it can block a perfectly safe third-party script and break the website.

2 — Content Security Policy

A second standard is Content Security Policy (CSP). CSP limits the external sources to which a website can connect. Trusted sources are whitelisted and every other connection is blocked.

CSP is commonly used to mitigate XSS and can be employed along with SRI to prevent malicious (external) scripts from being loaded.

Newegg’s incident would have been mitigated if a CSP was in place, disabling unsafe inline scripts and/or restricting allowed origins to retrieve resources from and/or send data to.

Still, CSP also has some limitations and brings new challenges, such as being vulnerable to open-redirect attacks and requiring substantial configuration and maintenance; we have also seen strategies that bypass CSP altogether.

Magecart 2.0 — A Very Real “What If”

All things considered, both SRI and CSP should be regarded for preventing malicious code injections.

But everything goes South when we add browser extensions to this equation.

Even if SRI and CSP were able to protect the website without breaking it, a simple browser extension can completely bypass these secure headers standards by stripping them. In recent news, we’ve seen cases such as the hacked MEGA extension, that show us just how powerfully damaging extensions can be.

Malicious extensions exploit the permissive nature of web browsers and become capable of modifying the webpage’s DOM during runtime.

Last year, at Jscrambler, we actually created a malicious browser extension and published it to the Chrome Web Store as part of our research. We made sure that its code wasn’t able to actually hack anyone — but the point is that the extension passed all security checks and was publicly available for download.

So far, Magecart has been using complex approaches and injecting their credit card skimmer in third-parties or directly in websites’ source code — and, as we’ve detailed, SRI and CSP could somewhat help prevent this. However, if Magecart starts using browser extensions as an attack vector (if they aren’t already doing it), SRI and CSP become absolutely powerless.

In an effort to show just how likely this is, we combined the intelligence we have over both the Magecart modus operandi and the malicious code of the MEGA extension to create a Magecart extension — Magecart 2.0.

On the image’s left side, we see the code for the malicious MEGA extension; the right side details a Magecart 2.0 extension. This approach is extremely simple and surely within reach of the hacker group.

The malicious MEGA extension was damaging enough by stealing passwords of 1.6 million users. What if an eventual Magecart 2.0 reached the same 1.6 million users and was able to steal credit card data in every eCommerce website they visited?

Mitigating Magecart and “Magecart 2.0” with Real-time Monitoring

This leads us to a third security approach — real-time monitoring of the client-side.

This strategy is substantially different from SRI and CSP. It focuses on providing complete visibility over the web page in real-time. So, whenever a threat is detected, this security system immediately notifies the website admin with precise information about the content and location of the malicious code.

That is precisely what Jscrambler’s Webpage Integrity achieves: full visibility over the website’s client-side and the capability to react in real-time to these threats.

In all the attack scenarios we covered so far, Webpage Integrity would effectively detect the injection the moment it happened, and empower companies to respond to the attack when it was first seen, preventing further losses. Unlike SRI and CSP, it can handle the dynamic nature of code, is simple to set up and maintain, and will not break the website.

Because Webpage Integrity monitors all threats to the client-side, it is able to extend its protection to more than credit card data theft: it effectively provides protection against MitB Trojans, Bots, and Zero-Day Threats.

Final Thoughts

The recent (and likely ongoing) wave of Magecart attacks comes to show how eCommerce businesses are severely unprepared, security-wise.

Approaches such as SRI and CSP should be considered, despite their drawbacks. Still, Magecart 2.0 — potential attacks featuring browser extensions as a vector — would be severely damaging to a wide number of eCommerce businesses, as SRI and CSP would be completely powerless to prevent it.

Jscrambler’s Webpage Integrity enables real-time monitoring and detection of Magecart, a potential Magecart 2.0, and numerous other threats, empowering companies to react immediately.

Timing is key. If eCommerce companies start detecting Magecart in seconds (and not months), Magecart’s days are numbered and Magecart 2.0 won’t live long enough to make any headlines.

Originally published at blog.jscrambler.com.


Magecart 2.0: Architecture of a What-If was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Token Economics: How To Value Tokens?

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In a previous article, we described the revolutionary organization of ecosystems based on a blockchain, but also their diversity and complexity. Faced with the variety of structures that have appeared in the past few years, the central question of the best method to value the tokens issued and used by these networks came up.

Unlike traditional companies, each of these projects develops a business model of its own. It is therefore difficult to develop a valuation method that would apply equally to all start-ups using blockchain technologies.

On the other hand, there are many methods for traditional companies such as “Discounted Cash Flows” and many indicators such as “Price-Earnings Ratio”. The main difference with token-issuing ecosystems is that there is no cash flow, since tokens themselves ensure the flow of value.

It is also important to remember that the blockchain industry is still nascent and that there is little or no history of ecosystem valuation. It is therefore almost impossible to analyze the behavior of tokens in the past.

It is therefore necessary to imagine new methods to value the projects. As we have already mentioned, each Altcoin is a decentralized network that aims to solve one or more problems. Tokens are issued to allow this network to exchange value and develop, as does money in a national economy. The tokens therefore have a functional value resulting from their use in the ecosystem. This functional value is particularly difficult to determine because of the number of data (often subjective) which influence this valuation (such as “Staking” or the velocity of the chips).

The difficulty of valuation is reinforced by the fact that the value of a token is not only functional, it is also speculative. Part of the value of the tokens, which is difficult to quantify, is directly related to speculation. The latter could be defined as the value resulting from the impact of token trading on the exchange of cryptocurrencies. As evidenced by the high volatility of some tokens, this value can be perfectly uncorelated from the functional or actual value of the token. It is usually based on a purely technical analysis of price curves, rather than a thorough analysis of the ecosystems on which the token is based.

decentralized idea
decentralized idea

However, several methods have emerged to try to value a blockchain-based ecosystem and to deduce the price that the tokens should have. The valuation model proposed by Chris Burniske is by far the most famous model and we will focus on that one. You can also check out the models developed by Vitalik Buterin, Brett Winton, Willy Woo and Percy Venegas.

Equation of Exchange

Chris Burniske is the first to propose applying the Equation of Exchange concept to projects based on decentralized registry technology. This equation is traditionally used to determine the value of a currency in an economy. As we mentioned, tokens play (among other things) the role of money within their ecosystem, so it is possible to apply this formula to them.

Chris Burniske points out, however, that he does not use this technique to determine the price that tokens should have in the present or the future, because the information we can collect about these ecosystems is still nascent. He uses it more as a method to ask the right questions and better understand the environment in which the project evolves. The equation is presented in the following way:

M x V = P x Q

Where

M = the total value of the chips

V = the velocity of the chips, that is to say the number of times they have been traded over a given period.

P = in the case of cryptoassets, P represents the price of resources monetized by the network. If we take the example of SiaCoin, it will be used to determine the dollar price of Gigabite available storage, represented in $ / GB.

Q = total resources used by the network. In the case of SiaCoin, this would be the number of Gigabites available on the network. If we multiply P and Q (where P = $ / GB and Q = GB), we get an amount in $.

PQ represents the exchange of value in the ecosystem. It is in a way the GDP of the micro-economy created by the protocol and the network. But this GDP is recorded on the blockchain. Thus the GDP of an ecosystem corresponds to the volume of transactions in reference token, even if this indicator must be relativized because of the many transactions between exchanges which, according to Chris Burniske, correspond to about 30% of transactions and are purely speculative.

Bitcoin
Bitcoin

Once we have the PQ value in dollars, we have to find “V” to be able to deduce “M”. The latter would allow us to value all the tokens (M = PQ / V). Once we know these elements and have been able to get a value for “M”, we are able to determine the “Current Utility Value” or “CUV” of a token. The CUV is obtained by dividing “M” by the number of chips in circulation (with the exception of “Bonded” or “Hodl’d” tokens).

Token Velocity

“V” is the velocity of the token, which is the number of times a token changes hands in a given period. But this velocity depends on the use of tokens in the development of the protocol by the members of the network. The more the protocol provides for the use of tokens between the members of the network, the more the circulation of these tokens and therefore the velocity will be important. The velocity of the chips is an important indicator of the volatility of the chip you want to buy, even if its determination will be impossible if it is a project under development. Indeed, the velocity of the tokens of a network is generally calculated over a period of one year according to the following method:

Velocity = Total Volume of Transaction / Average Volume of the Network

Let’s take the example that Chris Bruniske uses in his article:

“For example, in 2016, the network (bitcoin) processed an average of $ 160 million worth of transactions in US dollars a day, for a total of $ 58 billion in one year. Bitcoin’s average asset size in 2016 was $ 8.9 billion (M). As a result, V = $ 58 billion / $ 8.9 billion, or 6.5. A velocity of 6.5 means that in 2016, each bitcoin changed hands 6.5 times. In fact, a small percentage of bitcoins were probably traded much more than that, while a higher percentage was stuck in the hands of the hodlers, but later. By comparison, the velocity of the USD M1 money supply is currently 5.5, although it has fallen dramatically since the 2008 financial crisis. “

According to Nate Nead, a project that encourages its users to keep the tokens will create value, unlike a network on which the velocity is too important. But according to him, if the velocity is too low, there will be a lack of liquidity on the network, causing a drop in price. It takes a minimum of velocity for a token to reach its true value.

In the two most famous valorization formulas (those of Burniske and Buterin), the value of a token is inversely proportional to the value of a token.

For the value of a token to grow, it is therefore essential that the protocol provides mechanisms to achieve a balance between circulation (velocity) and conservation (“staking”) of tokens.

Several methods allow for example to limit the velocity of a token:

– a consensus method based on the “staking” of tokens, such as the Proof of Stake or the Node consensus developed by NEO.

Gamification to encourage the possession of tokens: this is a mechanism to encourage users to use the protocol and application to acquire more chips. Steemit is a great example: the more chips you have, the more influence you have on the network and your ability to earn chips. So the more chips you have, the more chips you will earn by participating in the protocol.

– Make it a store of value: Bitcoin / Ether.

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Token Economics: How To Value Tokens? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Binge Spending By Government Bureaucrats

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Every September, U.S. government bureaucrats go on a spending spree to burn through all of the money that they’ve been approved to spend by the U.S. Congress before the federal government’s fiscal year ends at the end of the month.

2018 is no different, except for the magnitude of this year’s federal spend-a-thon, where the bipartisan budget deal signed by President Trump in February authorized a lot more spending than would have happened without the deal.

Given that kind of license to spend, a lot of bureaucrats are now making a lot of really questionable purchases using your tax dollars and money they’ve had to borrow just to spend as much as they’re now allowed to spend. Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon reports on some of the more wasteful ways that Washington D.C.’s bureaucrats spent money before the clock on the 2017 fiscal year ran out last September.

Federal agencies spent millions on cars, scooters, fidget spinners, and shuffleboards in an attempt to exhaust their budgets before they run out at the end of the fiscal year.

An analysis of federal spending by OpenTheBooks.com and shared with the Washington Free Beacon reveals 67 agencies and departments spend[ing] nearly $50 billion closing out their fiscal year 2017 budgets.

The “spending frenzy” totaled nearly $50 billion in seven days.

And that was during the last seven days of September 2017, where federal bureaucrats spent $1 of every $9 that the U.S. Congress had authorized for them to spend in the entire 2017 fiscal year.

In 2018, the numbers are going to be even bigger!

***

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the creator of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org.

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5 Proven Steps That Will Help You Create A Powerful Brand Identity For Your Small Business

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It’s impossible to build a successful business without creating a strong brand.

So what is a brand and what are the elements of brand identity?

Here’s what you need to know – 5 proven steps that will help you create a powerful brand identity for your business.

What is a brand identity?

As we wrote previously:

A brand is the sum total of the experience your customers and customer prospects have with your company.

A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers.

Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality.

Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.

Any aspect of your brand that fosters a connection between you and your customers is part of your brand identity.

Your company’s logo, color scheme, slogan – those are all essential elements of a compelling brand identity.

However, it’s important to think beyond the visual experiences of your brand and extend your branding to include the emotional component of customers’ experiences with your business.

A truly memorable brand identity is an expression of your business at its core.

It is the interwoven fabric of what you make, how you make it, and why you make it – all of the emotionally driven elements that connect people to your brand.

Why does your business need a strong brand identity?

First impressions are everything for a business, and especially for a new business. In fact, 48% of consumers report that they are more likely to become loyal to a brand during the first purchase or experience.

90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, making it vital for companies to create a brand identity that evokes positive emotions.

If you want your business to make a positive first impression on customers and prospects, you have to be sure that your brand identity works in your favor.

A strong brand increases the value of your company, creates an identity and motivation for your employees, and makes it easier for you to acquire new customers. A brand represents how people know you (or your business), and how they perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company. In today’s noisy world, a strong brand is more important than it has ever been.

How do you build a strong brand identity for your business?

Step 1: Conduct a detailed brand audit.

The first step to build a strong brand identity is to understand who your customer is and what they want and need. We recommend you ask the following questions about your customers:

  1. Who are they? – Are your customers men, women, or both? Are they Boomers or Millenials? Where are they from? These are all foundational pieces of knowledge that you need to know.

  2. What do they do? – Knowing what your customers do for a living and what they’re interested in is a great way to more precisely target your marketing.

  3. Why are they buying? – Do you know the reason why they’re in your market? If you do, it’s easier to pair their needs with what you can give them.

  4. When are they buying? – Find out when your target market typically makes this type of purchase. That way, you can increase your chances of getting their attention they want to give it to you.

  5. What’s the purchasing medium? – Are they buying from a website? Do they prefer a brick and mortar establishment?

  6. What’s their budget? – Make sure you’re targeting customers whose budgets appropriately align with your product or service.

  7. What makes them feel good? – Knowing what gives a customer that precious good-feeling glow is key to making sure they become repeat customers.

  8. What do they expect? – Understanding expectations is critical in order to meet those expectations. Whether your customers expect fast delivery or 24/7 customer support, knowing what they want from you is half the battle.

  9. How do they feel about your company? – Hearing praise about your company is nice. Hearing where the pain points are is even better. You have to know where your business could use a little improvement to, well, improve!

  10. How do they feel about your competition? – You know what they say. Keep your friends close – keep your competition closer.

Step 2: Create your unique selling proposition and messaging.

Once you understand your customers, you should establish your company’s core values and philosophies.

Why should your customers care about your brand? How does your company stand out from the competition?

You’re looking for your unique selling proposition (USP).

But uncovering your USP can be difficult because your USP may not be something physical or tangible like a product, but instead might be thematic or emotional. Entrepreneur outlined this in their look at USP:

Pinpointing your USP requires some hard soul-searching and creativity. One way to start is to analyze how other companies use their USPs to their advantage. This requires careful analysis of other companies’ ads and marketing messages. If you analyze what they say they sell, not just their product or service characteristics, you can learn a great deal about how companies distinguish themselves from competitors.

For example, Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, always used to say he sold hope, not makeup. Some airlines sell friendly service, while others sell on-time service. Neiman Marcus sells luxury, while Wal-Mart sells bargains.

As we wrote about a company’s unique selling proposition:

Ultimately, a USP is what your business stands for.

For example, you could say that Apple’s USP is found in “user experience”: everything they do is meant to have the user at its core.

Google’s USP might be in the way they connect people with information, whereas Amazon’s might be providing whatever product you need quickly, efficiently, and at as low a cost as possible.

Figuring out what your USP is can take time, but it’s a crucial piece of your brand. Knowing what it is can help you sell better to your existing customers, and more importantly possible customers.

Step 3: Develop the creative elements of your brand.

Once you understand your customers and know your unique selling proposition, it’s time to develop the creative elements you’ll use in your company’s brand.

Creative elements are the look, feel, and voice of your brand. You’ll communicate them consistently across all marketing channels and it’s extremely important to get them right.

The key creative elements of your brand include:

  • The name of your company – A strong company name identifies your business, tells your customers and prospects something meaningful about your brand, and helps to differentiate your business from your competition.
  • Your company’s logo – Your company’s logo is the distillation of a brand into one single visual element. It acts as both the calling card and “avatar” for a brand and is one of the most important elements of a brand’s identity.
  • Color and color palette – As we’ve discussed, color gives your brand personality and it delivers a psychological impact as well:

    Color has a deep and often subconscious effect on our behavior. Color is often used to persuade or influence us. According to a study examining the effect of color on sales, 92.6% of people surveyed by the CCI: Institute for Color Research said that color was the most important factor when purchasing products.

  • Typography – The fonts you choose for your brand identity have an impact on how your brand is perceived. We examined how the type of font you use can affect customer perception in our guide Find Your Type.
  • Style guide – A style guide is a set of rules to follow any time a member of your organization wants to publish, present or promote content for your brand or use branding on marketing materials or the design for product packaging or package graphics.
  • Tagline – A business’ tagline is an opportunity to get your brand’s value proposition communicated directly to the customer. A great tagline should be short, catchy, and emotionally persuasive.
  • Personality – Brand identity may change and evolve as time and trends pass, but a brand’s personality mostly stays the same. Brand personalities typically include 3-5 key characteristics (like rebellious, empowering, and adventurous, for example).

How do you choose appropriate brand elements?

Here are six things you should consider when choosing the brand elements for your business:

  • Memorability – The brand elements you choose should be memorable and attract attention in order to help customers remember and recognize them.
  • Meaningfulness – It’s important that the elements you choose meaningfully communicate your brand. Brand elements should give consumers information about your brand, service, or product that furthers its positioning and image.
  • Likability – Do customers find the brand element appealing? Is it likable, pleasing, and fun? You want elements that leave a positive impression.
  • Transferability – Does the element work across all market segments and mediums? Does it translate well across geographic boundaries and languages? Avoid elements that are constrained to a specific medium (like mobile, or print) or don’t translate well across your customers’ languages and cultures.
  • Adaptability – Adaptability is all about flexibility and longevity. Choose elements that can stand the test of time and the fickle nature of trends and tastes. Always be willing to change things up when necessary.
  • Protectability – No matter what you choose, if you can’t protect it legally and competitively you’re in trouble before you’ve started. Do your due diligence early and avoid legal and trademark issues further down the road.

Step 4: Develop and execute strategies to build brand equity.

A strong brand identity is built over time.

When you create brand elements and your brand, you’re not finished. You still must develop and execute strategies that will build a strong brand equity.

According to Shopify’s Business Encyclopedia, brand equity is:

 …A marketing term that describes a brand’s value. That value is determined by consumer perception of and experiences with the brand. If people think highly of a brand, it has positive brand equity. When a brand consistently under-delivers and disappoints to the point where people recommend that others avoid it, it has negative brand equity.

A company like Apple or Sony has high brand equity, and that creates value those companies use to their advantage.

Brand recognition is one of the best-known ways to build equity, but it’s only one of many.

How can you build brand equity?

Provide a great customer experience

Besides having a great brand identity and strong brand elements, there’s one thing that builds brand equity faster than any other: a great customer experience.

Give your customers a positive experience that builds trust, memorability, and increases the chance they’ll return for more. This leads to higher customer preference (where they choose your product over a competitor’s) and customer retention (where they remain your customer).

Great experiences are not just about delivering a good product. It includes the pre- and post-sales experience as well as your customer service and support.

All of these work together to elevate the merely okay to great, and that boosts brand equity.

The bottom line? Focus on customer relationships, and high brand equity will follow.

Step 5: Evolve your brand identity over time.

Few brands can remain static over time. Even the largest, most successful companies must regularly evolve their brands and brand identities to keep up with the times.

We’re seeing this currently with Dunkin’ Donuts, Uber, Papa John’s, and Weight Watchers. These brands are evolving their identity and branding in response to changes in social norms and bad press.

You should regularly assess your brand and consider refining brand elements and your brand identity when the brand no longer stands for the unique selling proposition the brand delivers. For example, we talked about why and how you should rename your business when your company’s name is no longer compatible with your goals. Similarly, there are many good reasons you should consider redesigning your small business website.

A strong brand identity isn’t just a vague idea bandied about by big companies with deep marketing pockets. It’s a critical component of any business’ longevity and success.

Build a strong brand, create brand equity through great customer experiences and relationships, evolve your brand to keep it strong, and you’ll create a brand identity that will help your business grow.

 

The post 5 Proven Steps That Will Help You Create A Powerful Brand Identity For Your Small Business appeared first on bitcoin binary options.

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The Importance Of Content Writing In SEO

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The verdict is in: digital marketing is a must-have for any business in today’s economy. Many customers find out about businesses through digital means, and a digital marketing campaign delivered in tandem with SEO strategy builds credibility, visibility, and a positive reputation. Some business owners have thought that SEO simply entails elegant web design and attractive social visuals. While these components are important, visual design means little if not solidly integrated with quality content writing.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is an important element of any digital marketing strategy. Content writing encompasses the written text on your website, blog, social media platforms, and other digital marketing channels. What words do you use to tell your story? How do you describe the goods or services you offer? Do these descriptions match the search engine terms potential customers use when investigating products in your industry?

In other words, content writing is a strategy that helps customers find you. When an internet user searches for something, the search engine “crawls” through internet pages related to that topic, using algorithms in an attempt to find the best answer to the user’s query. Content writing makes your business’s internet presence more crawlable, searchable, and desirable for search engines and users alike.

Why Visual Design is Not Enough.

Search engines do not regard the visual parts of your website in the same way as they do written content. Keywords, meta descriptions, and other written content are the raw material that connects your business with potential customers.

What Professional Content Writers Bring to the Table.

One of the most challenging parts of content writing is continually thinking of new ideas. With blogs and social media especially, hiring a professional content writer with years of experience can free you up from content brainstorming to focus on other areas of your business. A professional content writer is a font of knowledge and an experienced brainstormer who may be able to think of a long list of new content ideas in a short time. Professional content writers can quickly generate fresh, innovative, error-free content that the rest of your SEO team posts on an ongoing basis.

The Basic Components of Good Content Writing.

Some of your written web content may feel like a no-brainer: the “About” page of your website, the description of your services, etc. There are, however, best practices for gearing every piece of your web presence toward the kinds of users you want. Additionally, excellent digital marketing requires much more than a simple website. A consistently-updated and relevant blog, comprehensive social media presence keyed into what customers want, and guest blog posts are just a few elements that a good content writer can help you integrate.

Additional components of high-caliber content writing include the following:

  • Search engine friendliness
  • Organic keyword integration
  • An authentic voice
  • Relevancy to your customer base
  • Emotional appeals (when appropriate)
  • Content that includes information customers can use
  • A lack of unnecessary repetition
  • Diverse and consistent new content

Maximizing Opportunities: Hiring a Professional Content Writer.

Taking advantage of quality SEO content writing services is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Just as you would hire a professional graphic designer to create a logo or a professional photographer to take a headshot, it is in your interest to hire a professional content writer who can get the job done efficiently, correctly, and using best practices for SEO in your industry. Make sure you hire a business that can roll out content writing for you as a larger part of an SEO strategy for your entrepreneurial enterprise.

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