Friday, March 6, 2015

Securing Your Ibeacons

Hi tech hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities and definitely ibeacons are not exempted from being the target in fact because its new, it is often become the primary target. Securing the ibeacon is perhaps the number 1 goal of every business just like any other IT implementation projects.

Ibeacons constantly advertise their signatures, this mainly composed of UUID, MAC Address, Minor and Major. If the app you design is dependent only on these parameters, then the ibeacon security implementation is very weak and is very vulnerable to all sorts of hacking methods. So an additional security layer is needed. There can be a number of ways to do this. The following are my ideas of securing the ibeacon implementation:

  1. Most Ibeacons can be configured over the air(OTA), it would be wise to always enable the password protection features of the ibeacon so that it can only be accessed by qualified and authorised administrators. 
  2. With Ibeacons' signatures publicly advertised, without having an additional security layer, hackers and competitors can easily device new ways to either clone the ibeacon's signature and create push messages that will show up their own advertisements.  To prevent this from happening, a security layer must be implemnented. A good example is by letting your customers register before they can use the mobile app. Another good example is adding additional validations such as how did your client came in to your store, there must be a pattern, they could have passed through McDonald before they came in and it's just so happen that McDonalds have implemented ibeacons and was detected by your customer's smart phone and was logged by your mobile app. The creation of additional security layer depends on your creativity.
  3. The APK must also be secured to prevent hackers from reverse engineering the app. If hackers have access to the source code of your app, the security layer implemented will be exposed. 
Always remember that as the technology becomes more sophisticated, hackers can be one step ahead, but you still can beat them if you know how to stop them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How Ibeacons Will Change the Rules in Retailing

The retailing business is extremely competitive. Not many people succeeds in this kind of business. A carefully crafted marketing strategy and with the help of the latest gears and gadgets can help improve the business' chance of survival.

Studies shows that a more personalized service, the introduction of new ways to attract foot traffic, analyzing people's movement inside the store and getting to know more about each one of your customers personal preference can help in the creation of strategies to get these customers to spend at the right time.

Just like for example a teen-age girl happens to pass by a Starbucks, and she really liked to try a newly introduced strawberry flavored coffee but she is short of $1, and all of a sudden, a popup screen on her phone informed her that she has a $2.50 discount coupon and she can even get another $2.50 discount if she invites a friend. So immediately, she invited her best friend who happens to live just a block away to join her. The popup screen appeared because her phone detected the presence of ibeacon.

The sale could have never happened if the discount coupon was just advertized on a magazine.

Another case study is integrating the Beacon Hands Free payment system by Paypal aimed at targetting busy urban professionals. One scenario is that a busy working mom who loves to take with her a coffee with Belgian waffles which is available at Grandpa's Coffee Dine that is always full of people like her. She had to spend 30 minutes every morning just to get her favorite food but now, with the help of Paypal's Beacon Hands Free Payment system, she can put her order and pay online and when her smart phone detects the ibeacon of the store, the store keeper will be notified and will just take her already prepared order outside just a minute before she passes by and and when she's in front of the store, the store keeper will just hand over the coffee and the waffle to her. She may do this only once and each time she passes by the store every morning, the store keeper will always be there to give her favorite coffee and waffle.

Update: With the upcoming release of Apple's Iwatch which is capable of receiving ibeacon signals, receiving discount coupons and other promotional campaigns to improve brand recognition and gathering data of customers' buying habits will now even be so much easier.