Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Scary Side of The Internet of Things

The Scary side of IOT

The IOT Gets Scary

You may have heard some buzz about the Internet of Things or IOT. This is the idea that our appliances should all get smarter and be connected to the internet. While there are useful things (smart TVs with built in Internet browsers), and things that sound like they would be handy (a DVR that can download and search the TV listings to find your favorite programs), there are also things that seem a little creepy. (Do you REALLY want your refrigerator to keep up with what you eat and drink?)

Besides all that, the technical press has been discussing the truly scary side of IOT devices for a while now. That is, they are internet connected computers with little or no security, and almost no way to correct flaws. There’s now been a major example of this issue. If you had a hard time reaching Paypal, Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, or other popular Internet services on October 21th, you may have been a victim. An underlying service provider named Dyn was attacked with a massive distributed denial of service attack (DDOS). This made it difficult for many users to reach several of the internet’s top properties.

According to Flashpoint, the attack used a hacker technology called a Mirai BotNet. A BotNet is a collection of hacked computers that can be utilized as weapons or soldiers in attacking a system. What makes Mirai different is that it is designed to hack and control IOT devices. Previously seen in an attack on KrebsOnSecurity, the source code for the Mirai system has now been released, and almost anyone could build their own IOT BotNet.

After action reports indicate this may have been the case in the recent outbreak. Industry experts are of the opinion that this attack was conducted by one or more low level hackers, perhaps trying to experiment with the toolkit, or just show off for their friends.

So just remember the next time you look at your “smart” toaster. It may be a battle hardened robot warrior in disguise.



Analysis of USPS 2017 Bound Printed Matter Postage Rates

USPS Bound Printed Matter

Bound Printed Matter increases average of 1%

Details of the 2017 proposed rate increase have been filed by USPS with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). While preliminary, the filing usually reflects the rates we’ll see. We’re in the process of performing our analysis of these new rates and rules. Rather than simply comparing the old rates to the new, our analysis takes actual historical shipping data into account.

Specifically for Bound Printed Matter Parcels, the USPS states a 1% rate increase. For local entry mailers, this basically holds true. The rate of increase varies from 0.8% to 1.5% by weight of the mail piece. With a typical 2 pound book, the rate is 1%.

However, there is good news for drop ship mailers. Whether you enter at the NDC or SCF level, the rate increase is only 0.5%. It seems the USPS has finally figured out they should reward drop ship mailers for doing so much work for them.

We hope you find this information useful. If you have further questions on proposed rates or rules changes (such as the proposal to drop the FSS discount/sorting requirements for Flats) please contact us, and we’ll be happy to look into it for you.

If you’d like to explore the published rate information yourself, it’s on USPS Postal Explorer.

USPS Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpB)

USPS IMpB Example Bar Code

USPS Intelligent Mail Package Barcode

Are you ready? If not, we can help.

There’s a lot to know about the Intelligent Mail Package Barcode, and the stakes are pretty high. For example, an average 2.5 pound book, shipping Bound Printed Matter, would cost 79 cents more without the IMpb. If you do drop shipping, it’s even worse, because you lose those discounts too. If you’re not ready, we can help get you there quickly and efficiently.

Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb)

Effective January 2013, the USPS requires an IMpb bar code for all parcel/package services.
If you don’t have it, you lose your presort discounts.
If you drop ship, you lose that privilege and discount.
Effective January 2014, there is also a 20 cent penalty per piece.
You must submit a data file, which is not a Mail.Dat, to the USPS for each shipment.
There is a strict certification process for the barcode printing, and the data file.

IMpb Related Services

Guidance through entire certification process.
Programming and consultation in preparing the new label format.
Pre-certification examination of label samples to catch formatting errors.
Advice in passing the print quality standards.
Ability to format the labels and send you print-ready PDFs.
Programming and consulting in creating the package data file.
If desired, we can prepare and transmit the file on your behalf.
We provide as much or as little help as you need in a fee for service structure.