Network Security: Wired and Wireless

A business needs to be able to safely access the internet, while at the same time allow authorized users access to company data. Firewalls, anti-virus software, email filters and the like can be used to reduce the introduction of malicious software and unauthorized access from outside and inside the company. One of the most important decisions for any company is the type of network structure to use, wired or wireless. Cost, reliability and security top the list of considerations. Traditionally, wired networks have been deemed more secure than wireless configurations. This view is rapidly becoming obsolete with the development and implementation of better authentication and encryption standards for wireless technology.

Both the wired and wireless options have the same goals: ensure that information confidentiality and integrity is maintained, allow only authorized access and to detect and prevent intrusions. The original standard for wireless networking was flawed, giving rise to the view that the technology was not a safe option. Prior to 2002, the standard adopted for wireless LANs by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) was WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy. This standard was found to be inadequate for meeting necessary security requirements. With WEP, data is protected using RC4 encryption; user authentication determined by a pre-shared key. The key could be cracked, allowing data to be modified and otherwise compromised. These issues were addressed by the IEEE. In 2002, the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) was introduced, and in 2004 the IEEE adopted WPA2 as the new standard. WPA2 uses the AES encryption algorithm. AES is considered extremely secure and is approved for military use. Additionally, two methods for authentication are employed including RADIUS, a security option used in wired networks. WPA2 is the basis for setting up a secure wireless LAN.

Most companies do not implement wired-only or wireless-only networks. A combination of both strategies comprise a typical network. The wireless option is more popular than ever. Hand-held scanners, price-checkers, as well as devices recently available as wireless - such as printers, are standard equipment. While no network can have absolute security, properly implement wireless segments of a network can be just as secure as the wired segment.

Is your wireless equipment up-to-date? Contact STCR at (607) 757-0181 for information on access points, hand-scanners and more.


By now you have either heard of or in some states you are now processing, WIC EBT. What is WIC EBT? It stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer for Women, Infants and Children. This will eventually replace the paper vouchers which are now in use. There are two forms that will be used:

Online: Using a card with a magnetic stripe which needs a live connection to the processing host functioning much like a credit card transaction.

Smart Card: Which communicates to information stored on a card containing memory which connects directly to the POS terminal and then batch processes the data to the host at a later time. Each state is allowed to choose one of the two methods for processing the WIC EBT.

This map from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website shows the status of each state’s implementation for WIC EBT.

Will Tax Reform Effect your Business

Many tax experts suggest the following approach to tax reform: Cut high statutory rates in return for eliminating many loopholes and deductions. Given high federal deficits, they have indicated that corporate tax reform would have to be revenue-neutral, shifting the tax burden from those paying a lot to those paying a little, while not lowering the total amount of tax paid by corporations.

Owners of small C corporations should be wary. They would be prime targets to pay more tax if this approach moves forward because they pay the lowest effective tax rate under the current system. To ensure that corporate tax reform is revenue neutral, reformers would likely target deductions and loopholes that many small corporations use.

Few would disagree that our corporate tax system is flawed and should be fixed. Our statutory corporate tax rates have been higher than in every other developed country except Japan and will soon be the highest in the world. At the same time, the amount of taxes corporations actually pay is uneven. Because of a multitude of deductions and loopholes, many companies pay less than the statutory rate. The New York Times reported that 115 companies among the biggest public companies listed on the Standard and Poor's 500-stock index paid federal and other taxes amounting to less than 20 percent of income from 2006 through 2010, while 39 paid under 10 percent.

Experts believe that fixing our corporate tax system would benefit Americans. Eliminating loopholes and deductions in return for lower rates would make it easier for corporations to forecast their taxes. In addition, businesses would become less leveraged because their incentive to take on debt would be reduced. They would also spend less on accountants and lawyers to reduce tax payments and more on productive ways to generate profits. Finally, lowering tax rates would keep many domestic businesses from going overseas while attracting foreign businesses to the U.S.

Private Label Goods

As private label companies continue to introduce better-for-you products and more attractive packaging, they have experienced sales growth in recent years that aren’t likely to decrease in the near future.

Private-label grocery brands have come a long way since their modest beginnings in the late 1970s. Along the way, private-label brands appeared to have shed much of their budget stigma. According to a recently released Nielson report, cash-strapped families looking to cut their food costs have been increasingly avoiding well-known brands for their slightly cheaper counterparts. Private-label brands accounted for 17.4% of the total U.S. dollar share of food products last year, up from 15.2% in 2006, Nielsen says.

More than two-thirds of those who participated in Nielsen's U.S. survey said they thought private-label goods had the same or better quality than name brands. And just 10% said such products weren't suitable when quality matters, although 17% indicated that private-label brands have cheap-looking packaging. The few packaging and quality concerns are unlikely to discourage customers in the future. More than 9 in 10 Americans surveyed by Nielsen said they would continue buying private-label brands regardless of the economy.

The economy in the last few years has decidedly boosted private-label purchases, but the rise in the popularity of store brands actually began back in the early 2000s when the economy was very strong. Store-brand products, which make up a $90 billion industry in the US, now account for almost 30% of the total servings of food products sold.