Friday, March 28, 2008

FTC Cannot Fine TJX for Data Breach

In the massive databreach at TJX -— the worst in credit card history —- the retail chain "created an unnecessary risk to personal information by storing it on, and transmitting it between and within, in-store and corporate networks in clear text," according to a complaint issued Thursday by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and reported in Storefront Backtalk.

That report also found that TJX "did not require network administrators and other users to use strong passwords or to use different passwords to access different programs, computers, and networks" and that it failed to "use readily available security measures to limit access" and cited one crucial example: not "using a firewall to isolate card authorization computers."

The FTC complaint also accused the chain of a failing to "employ sufficient measures to detect and prevent unauthorized access to computer networks or to conduct security investigations, such as by patching or updating anti-virus software or following up on security warnings and intrusion alerts."

Despite those conclusions -- coupled with the FTC's legal conclusion that these actions constituted "an unfair act or practice" against consumer interests -- FTC staffers said they had no legal authority to fine the chain, an authority they have repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought from Congress.

The only actions they could take was to instruct TJX to try and do better in the future and to insist that outside assessors check the chain once every two years for the next 20 years. PCI rules already require the chain to be assessed once a year.

The difference is that the ever-other-year reports will go to FTC offices while the PCI annual reports are kept within the industry. If government lawyers don't like the reports that TJX submits, "then action can be taken," said Alain Sheer, an attorney for the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

What kind of action? That gets into the specifics of what is found. Legally, the FTC is limited to issuing a per-violation fine of only $11,000, according to Laura DeMartino, the unit's assistant director for enforcement. But a "violation" can be interpreted as every day that the violation exists, DeMartino said, which could be a large number of days for a report covering a 24-month period.

The FTC's inability to get punitive with retailers it considers acting poorly is nothing new and neither is the FTC's internal frustration with their toothless threats.

But FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said the actions can at least get a message out to the public that someone is watching, even if there's not much they can do.

"By now, the message should be clear: companies that collect sensitive consumer information have a responsibility to keep it secure," Majoras said. "These cases bring to 20 the number of complaints in which the FTC has charged companies with security deficiencies in protecting sensitive consumer information. Information security is a priority for the FTC, as it should be for every business in America."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cognos, SPSS Partner on Predictive Analytics

Cognos, an IBM company, has announced that it will partner with SPSS to bring predictive analytics capabilities to joint customers in retail, financial services, insurance and other industries. The deal fills an important gap in Cognos' portfolio, and it follows closely on the heels of a parallel arrangement, announced in December, between Business Objects and SPSS, reports Intelligent Enterprise.

The Cognos-SPSS partnership is a joint marketing deal under which both companies will promote existing integrations between SPSS Clementine and Cognos 8 while also adding Cognos-compatible blueprints for predictive applications.

"We're building joint assets with SPSS that will include the predictive models as well as the BI and performance management around these solutions," Jennifer Francis, vice president of market development at Cognos, told IE.

Consumer product placement, campaign management, and financial and insurance risk management are the starting point for the partnership, but blueprints are envisioned for other applications as well, says Francis. For instance, joint customers are already doing customer churn analysis, she says. The predictive modeling churn analysis is done in SPSS Clementine while the scoring is then handled by Cognos 8 Reporting.

Under the Business Object-SPSS OEM deal, SPSS Clementine software is to be rebranded, sold and supported directly by Business Objects, which signals a deeper commitment to rely on SPSS for statistical and predictive analytics capabilities.

Concludes Intelligent Enterprise, the loser in all these deals seems to be SAS, which was quite vocal, during last year's BI consolidation spree, in pointing out that Cognos and Business Objects lacked predictive analytics capabilities. Now SPSS, a SAS analytics rival that doesn't compete in the reporting and analysis space, is benefitting from the considerable market penetration and marketing muscle of the top-two vendors in business intelligence.

Haith's Selects Elucid (UK)

Sanderson, the publicly owned UK provider of software solutions for mail order and multi-channel businesses, has won a contract to supply its Elucid solution to Haith’s Bird Foods. Haith’s operate through mail order, retail, eCommerce, and wholesale and have invested in the Elucid solution to support all of these sales channels.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Epicor Announces Enhancements

According to the SupplyChainBrain Newsletter, Epicor Software Corporation says that enhancements to the supply chain management (SCM) and financial suites of Epicor Enterprise offer improved forecasting and order fulfillment capabilities, better information access and reporting, and improved budget management for stronger compliance and control.

Epicor says the SCM suite streamlines operations, from order fulfillment to warehouse management to supplier relationship management. SCM provides immediate access to the inventory, pricing and customer information companies need to increase inventory turns, enhance customer service and improve profitability. The developer says that more than 100 enhancements made in this latest release enable more accurate demand forecasting, which in turn improves order fulfillment rates and stock movement efficiency.

Cadre Upgrades Cadence WMS Module

Cadre Technologies has released a new version of Cadence Mobile Logistics (CML), its Microsoft Windows-based radio frequency system that is part of the Cadence Fulfillment software suite.

CML integrates a variety of new features that enable warehouse workers to update inventory in real time and increase productivity.

For example, the new version supports "pick and pass," also known as "zone picking," whereby one warehouse worker stays in a zone to complete the lines of an order specific to that zone and passes the order, via a conveyor belt or cart, to another zone to be processed by a different picker working in that zone.

It also allows manual lot substitutions managed by business rules, and lets managers assign work groups through a module called "Team Assignment."
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