Do You Use Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication is a secondary authentication method for logging into email, social media, banking or corporate accounts. Most, if not all, major email, banking and social media platforms offer two-factor authentication free of charge. When you log in from an unrecognized computer or mobile device, the service provider sends a text message to your cell phone. This ensures no one can access your account with only your password. While this is not foolproof it will add a layer of security.

Check out this site for the instructions on enabling two-step authentication on most major sites: twofactorauth.org

Skyline of a large metropolitan area.

Worldwide Adventures of a Certified Forensic Interviewer

When I haven’t spoken to someone for a while or am meeting someone new who learns about my background, they will often ask what’s it like working on the other side. My admission to this: sometimes, this job is awesome.

Are there frustrations? Absolutely! But here are a few of the perks: I get to meet new people, see awesome old (ish) friends, talk about things that are cutting edge and interesting, help people do their jobs better, and travel to some pretty cool places.

Last December, I went on an adventure to China, and from the perspective of a certified forensic interviewer (who loves to observe behavior), the main takeaway is that people are the same no matter where you go.

Another takeaway: when you don’t speak the native language, you will need to read behavior.

First off, China was fascinating. People ask me what the food, traffic, pollution, and so on were like. Where I traveled, the food was great (but I passed on the chicken feet), the traffic was awful, and yes, there was lots of pollution. China is a vast country and I only visited a few parts, so it’s hard for me to generalize an entire country based on my trip. It’d be like someone from China coming to New York and saying the entirety of the United States is just like New York. I barely scratched the surface.

We started our trip in Guangzhou on the southeast coast of China and ended in Shanghai on the eastern coast, with the objective to tour factories and discuss current and potential products. My first impression of Guangzhou was the sheer amount of active construction: it was almost like an angry toddler had thrown buildings down that continued to grow where they were. There was development everywhere!

Most places we went, the people we encountered were hospitable and helpful. The first factory we visited was clean and modern, and we were welcomed by the factory manager. I was surprised at the warmth of our reception; perhaps I was expecting a more closed-off attitude based on what I had read about the government controls and current business climate, but it was quite the opposite. I felt safe wherever we went, the high-speed transportation and roads were excellent, and I didn’t encounter a single rude person. It would be hard to say the same thing traveling in Chicago!

My main issue, if pressed to find one, would be that I did not understand the language. Most of the people we met spoke English very well; however, there were times that they spoke Chinese at length during business meetings and we were left at the mercy of an interpreter after the aside was finished. I’m pretty sure much was lost in translation.

During our visit, there were many, many times that Chinese was the main language being spoken and, it cannot be overstated, I was very glad for my prior training in observing behavior. With each conversation in Chinese, my frustration grew, and I began to listen and observe in a more heightened state because I needed to know something, anything, about what was being discussed. Here are a few key items I picked up on:

  • Filler words told me to observe and listen more closely. I picked up on a single word used over and over and that usage, combined with some more animated body language, indicated to me that the speaker was feeling some stress. Just like in interviewing, the timing of the behavior was important. This was during a phase of our negotiation that was becoming difficult, and when I heard the filler word repeated, along with some agitation, I knew we were bargaining from a position of power.
  • Eye contact, whether maintained or broken and depending on the timing, was also a strong indicator. Since I was not directly involved in the negotiation, only an observer, I found the Chinese speakers would look to me quite often to try and see how I was reacting. They weren’t sure why I was there, and I thought they might have been trying to get me to react to help them. Again, this led me to believe that they were feeling pressure and were looking for someone in the room to help them out. I tried to maintain a friendly but neutral expression during our talks. I also found the neurolinguistics to be similar to what I had seen before in the United States, with internal dialogue (looking downward, studying hands, phone, or papers) being the most common trait I saw on my brief trip. I do need to point out that some of my behavior could have very easily been causing theirs. Since I am naturally fairly direct and was making a lot of eye contact just out of habit, this may have been something they weren’t used to and could have caused them to alter their behavior. Not sure, but it’s a possibility.
  • Because they were speaking to one another in their own language, and assumed quite rightly that we didn’t speak Chinese, their conversation became much livelier than it would have if we spoke the same language. This actually led to the factory owners revealing much more about how they felt than they probably would have otherwise. They became emotional in their sidebar conversations, and I’d bet a million yuan that they wouldn’t have reacted that way if they thought one of us could understand the language!
  • On a similar note, there were a few times that we were told meeting attendees couldn’t speak English, yet at the end of our meeting they spoke quite fluently. This was probably due to a level of embarrassment at their ability to converse, but it’s important to keep in mind when having our own sidebar conversations. I compare it to my abilities with Spanish: I’m definitely not fluent and wouldn’t even say I can speak the language, but I’ve had enough classes that I can pick up a lot from others’ conversations. Just another thing to be aware of when talking about business in a group such as this.
  • I found it was easier to read body language when an interpreter or translator was being used. For me, the reason was that I could focus purely on the reaction to what was said and not worry about what was coming out of my mouth. It was like watching an interview in slow motion and therefore so much easier to read the reactions.

These are just a few days’ worth of observations and definitely not enough to come to any firm conclusions on an entire society’s behavioral cues. However, after my visit I feel strongly that it is possible to read body language everywhere you go: you just have to listen and keenly observe what’s going on around you.

All people have tells and physical reactions to conversation; sometimes it can be even more exaggerated depending on the circumstances and comfort level of that moment. You just need to stay focused on the other person, and you can learn a lot.


Stefanie is a regular contributor to the work of the International Association of Interviewers. To enjoy other great content from her and other contributors, please visit CertifiedInterviewer.com

Man hands woman standing at cash register a golden credit card.

Why Cashless Stores Aren’t Always Good News

On March 7 Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores. In our increasingly digital world, where nearly all businesses accept electronic forms of payment, it seems only logical to transition to a completely cashless system. So why did lawmakers ban businesses from refusing to accept cash?

In 2017, nearly 6 percent of the population of Philadelphia was “unbanked,” which are people who do not have a checking or savings account and only use cash. About 22 percent of the population was “underbanked,” which are those who have bank accounts but still use alternative financial services, such as check cashers. These statistics have remained virtually unchanged since 2015, according to surveys from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

According to Philly.com, supporters of this legislation, which goes into effect on July 1, argued that cashless stores effectively discriminated against poor consumers. A report from the Federal Reserve found that the unbanked and the underbanked are more likely to have low income, less education or be in a racial or ethnic minority group.

This population is not unique to Philadelphia: according to the Fed, about 5 percent of adults in the U.S. in 2017 were unbanked and 18 percent were underbanked. Though these numbers have decreased in recent years, that is still about 13 million unbanked Americans who would be unable to access cashless businesses.

Businesses, such as Sweetgreen, have gone cashless in recent years in order to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of robbery. The National Retail Federation opposes the ban on cashless stores, saying that merchants should decide which payments to accept (or deny).

The conversion to a completely cashless system would also have a significant impact on cash-in-transit companies, who would lose a large customer base that no longer needs armored couriers to securely transport their cash. This could also affect banks who depend on their commercial customers for business.

Along with the Philadelphia City Council, the New Jersey Legislature has also passed a measure to ban cashless stores. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington are considering similar bills.

Some countries around the world are completely cashless: In Sweden, only 15 percent of payments involve cash transactions, and in the U.K. credit and debit cards and other forms of contactless payments are the most common forms of payment.

Use a Password Manager

The guidelines have changed many times in the past few years on password recommendations. Whenever possible, use a password manager. Most password managers can create unique, long, random passwords. That way you don’t have to memorize all your passwords, only the one to your password manager. Passwords continue to be a point of weakness, and this is a quick, easy and cheap way to strengthen your password security.

CONTROLTEK’s Stefanie Hoover Joins Retail Asset Protection Council of ASIS International

Bridgewater, N.J., (March 13, 2019)Stefanie Hoover, CFI, strategic account executive at CONTROLTEK, is the newest member of the Retail Asset Protection Council of ASIS International, the preeminent international organization for security professionals. In her role as a council member, she will use her industry expertise to help develop educational programs and materials that address broad security concerns, including the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits.

“The addition of Stefanie Hoover to the council comes at an exciting time in the evolution of ASIS and the Retail Asset Protection Council,” said Jeff Levitt, chairman of the Retail Asset Protection Council. “Her expertise in multiple roles within the retail community make her a perfect addition to the council.”

“I look forward to contributing my 20 years of experience in retail asset protection to ASIS and its members,” said Hoover. “ASIS is one of the largest security associations, and I hope to support the organization as they spur continued growth in membership in the retail sector.”

In her role as a council member, Hoover will shortly become a member of one of four committees: Membership, Diversity, Learning & Strategy and External Council Liaison.

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About CONTROLTEK
Since 1976 CONTROLTEK has been a global leader in tamper-evident security packaging, helping banks, armored couriers and retailers transport cash safely and securely.  The company’s expanding line of inventory protection and visibility solutions also helps retailers protect their merchandise better and run their operations more efficiently.  As a second-generation family owned business, with a history of stable growth and a reputation for strong customer focus, CONTROLTEK continues to deliver on its mission every single day: to provide solutions that protect and to always deliver on our promises.

Media Contact
Nathalie Schrans
Content and Social Media Manager
(908) 603-2704
Nathalie.Schrans@controltekusa.com

CONTROLTEK logo on a blue background showing a retail space with an anti-theft EAS security system.

CONTROLTEK Opens New Innovation Experience Center

To kick off 2019 with another commitment to progress and innovation in loss prevention and cash security, CONTROLTEK opened a new headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey. We also debuted a brand-new Innovation Experience Center where clients can view and test our latest security solutions and work closely with our experts.

The Innovation Experience Center displays the latest security solutions and how they are used in a retail or banking environment. Source: Studio Eagle

“The Innovation Experience Center is designed as a collaborative space that enables clients to connect directly with our experts to come up with new solutions to the ever-evolving threats of shrink,” said Steve Sell, CONTROLTEK’s vice president of global sales and marketing.

The open layout of the office allows for greater collaboration between employees, customers and partners. Source: Studio Eagle

The new headquarters also gives our team members an open space to create new asset protection and cash security solutions, with each other and with industry partners, in a collaborative environment.

“This new space is an investment into the company’s future,” said Rod Diplock, CONTROLTEK’s chief executive officer, “and into expanding our relationships within the loss prevention industry.”

The Innovation Experience Center is seamlessly integrated into the office environment. Source: Studio Eagle

CONTROLTEK’s new headquarters is located a short drive from New York City at 200 Crossing Blvd., Second Floor, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Why You Need VPN

At a recent trip to Europe I stayed at a hotel where, a week prior, had two hackers arrested in its parking lot.

Public wi-fi hotspots like the ones we use at hotels, airports or Starbucks offer no encryption security. Someone with very little computer skills can easily eavesdrop on your communications (or your team members’) and even steal your log in credentials.

One possible solution? VPN – Virtual Private Network. If your company currently does not use one, you can purchase it for as little as $5 a month per user. A VPN will encrypt your activities and keep you safe on the go.