for November 2019
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
Term4Sale BUMP WEEK - November 4, 2019
The Ultimate In Security - The Update Process
The Ultimate In Security - Standalone PC software
The Ultimate In Security - The Compulife Internet Engine
Less Secure BUT Secure - Compulife Web Quotes
Our Current Programming Plans for 2019
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this
Term4Sale BUMP WEEK - November 4, 2019
Last month we talked about the fact that Term4Sale BUMP WEEK begins November 4, 2019 at 12 noon Eastern Time and explained what bump week means.
Here's a quick summary:
Bump week allows subscribers to improve their LOCAL term4sale postal code listings.
Bump week comes ONLY once a year, during the first week of November.
If you have previously bumped your postal codes to better postal codes there is NOTHING you need to do.
If you don't have term4sale postal codes, this is the best time to get locals, otherwise there is NOTHING you need to do.
If you want more information please refer to last month's Update News by clicking on this link:
The Ultimate In Security
The Update Process
We are noticing an increase in customers wanting us to complete long, tedious documents explaining what levels of security that we provide for the exchange of information with our web based software. We expect this pattern of activity to increase and so the following is a review of why Compulife provides you with the highest levels of security that are available in any quoting software that you are purchasing or using.
First, you need to understand the update process, which is the way that you obtain rate updates for your Compulife software products. All company, products and rate updates are done through the PC version of Compulife which is a stand alone software product.
When the PC software obtains an update it is receiving a proprietary compressed file (commonly called a zip file) which incorporated the file changes to either our program (app) or changes to the company and product data files which the PC software uses to produce quotes.
IMPORTANT: We do NOT use third party compression software to create or unpack our zipped files. You cannot open a Compulife .CMP file (our zip file) with any software other than Compulife. To create that file we use propriety software that we designed and built to build the update file. No one but Compulife can create those files, and no one but Compulife can unpack them. That means no one can intercept and change those files because they can't get in them.
To add further security, each update .CMP file contains an internal checksum that the decompression software uses to test the validity of the compressed file. If ANYONE attempts to monkey with those files, adding or changing even just one byte of information, the decompression software will detect that change and NOT process that file.
The same checksum technology is used to build our self extracting installation software that we place on the web, which is used to get the first part of Compulife installed on a Windows PC computer. The .EXE file WILL NOT run if it detects it has been monkeyed with.
That is why there has never been a virus which has successfully infected our installation software or our update files. It is worth nothing that our .EXE files routinely generate false positives from anti-virus products ONLY because those anti-virus product are encountering the file for the first time and do not recognize it. We have talked about this "GUILTY until proven innocent" method of guarding against viruses and would again underline this is lazy, shabby, irresponsible nonsense that is marketed in the guise of virus detection.
Once again, no one has ever gotten a computer virus from our software updates, EVER.
The Ultimate In Security
Standalone PC software
The primary software product of Compulife is the standalone Windows PC program (app). Apart from obtaining updates through the internet, the quoting program does NOT communicate information through the internet back to Compulife. We do not receive information from the PC quoting software in any way, shape or form. That means that there can be no security issue as nothing you are doing with the PC quoting software is being sent to anyone, unless you send a quote such as a PDF copy of quotes that you produce and then email. None of that goes to Compulife.
Let me repeat, Compulife gets no information from our quoting software. From time to time life insurance companies have expressed an interest in obtaining information about the quoting activities of our customers, and we assure them we have no clue what you are doing because we don't know what you are doing. We go on to advise that if our subscribers thought we were monitoring your activities, the way google monitors your activities through their Chrome browser, you would NOT be happy with us. We know that, and we don't.
If you doubt what we are saying you can unplug your computer from the internet and continue to run quotes with the PC version of Compulife. The software does NOT need the internet to run quotes. It only uses the Internet to get file updates.
In my office I have two computers that I use all the time. There is one computer that is connected to the internet, where I spend most of my time. There is another computer that is NOT on the internet - EVER. On that computer resides the MAIN copy of Compulife from which all Compulife updates are maintained and prepared. Once an update file(s) has been created, and it is ready to be placed on the internet, the files are moved from the non-Internet computer to the Internet computer using a "flash drive" (USB memory stick). The two computers are NOT networked to ensure that there is NO WAY for someone outside of my office to gain access to the main database we maintain for our product.
Once again, it would be impossible for any third party to access the Compulife data files in my office through the internet because that computer is NOT plugged into the internet. The only way someone could get to it would be to break into my office and take it. They would then have to turn around and run faster than the bullet coming from my gun.
The Ultimate In Security
The Compulife Internet Engine
Compulife's internet quoting software, which we call the "Internet Engine" offers the maximum in Internet quoting security. Those who purchase the Internet Engine place that program, and the Compulife data files from THEIR PC computer onto THEIR internet web server. The Internet Engine and data then run AUTONOMOUSLY from that server - PERIOD. There is no communication between that server and any other server unless the customer creates that flow of data.
IMPORTANT: Once again, with the Internet Engine Compulife does NOT receive information from that software. There is NO requirement for you to provide communication with ANY Compulife server for that software to run.
NOTE: While we are introducing "quote counters" to that software, counter files are created and maintained on your server. In the future, and from time to time Compulife will ask you to provide those counter files so we can audit quote volume, but the ONLY way we will be able to get those files is if you manually send them to us, PERIOD.
Communication of client information to the Internet Engine on YOUR server, and the quote from the software with client information, is 100% controlled by the Compulife subscriber who has installed the Internet Engine and who has created the interface to and from the engine. All of that activity is on the customer's server, and we receive NOTHING by way of information or data from that process, PERIOD.
Some Compulife subscribers have difficulty in getting their heads around that perfect simplicity because so much of what they are doing with other software providers on the Internet is done through other software providers who offer API solutions. In those cases the user is communicating with a third party server and information is being exchanged two ways with that third party. While Compulife's Internet Engine can do what an API does, the big difference is that the software is ON YOUR SERVER, not on our server, and you control the entire process. We have nothing to do with your security, because we do not receive or send quote data with you.
Therefore, because you are NOT communicating with an external server, Compulife has NOTHING to do with the security you choose to implement on your server. If you ask Compulife about security, you are asking the wrong people because we do not control the security that you implement, YOU DO.
When Compulife introduced the ability for you to pay your invoice by credit card, it was only after we set up a payment system where the entry of your credit card is done on our bank's software platform. Compulife NEVER receives copies of your credit card number, only a confirmation that a particular amount has been received in payment for a particularly customer/invoice. Some customers think we keep records of their credit cards, WE DO NOT. In fact it is a VERY conscious decision on our part to NOT have your credit card information. If we don't have it, no one can get it from us.
Another thing we deal with from time to time is a life insurance company insisting that we sign non-disclosure agreements. Compulife NEVER SIGNS NON-DISCLOSURE agreements. Our business is completely based upon the disclosure of the information a company gives to us. Companies sometimes express concern that if they give us product and rate changes before they are public, that they don't want us to give that information to anyone else. We NEVER give the raw data that companies provide us to third parties - EVER. That data can ONLY be accessed through the Compulife product and no company products or rates are ever introduced to our software until they are "live". For companies who tell us they still want an agreement to make sure we don't do that, we simply tell them to provide us their product and rate information at the last minute. That way they will be certain "leaks" cannot come from Compulife because we didn't have the information in the first place.
To review the Internet Engine and the company/product update files, ONLY get to your server from your PC when YOU YOURSELF copy those computer files from your PC to YOUR server. Compulife is NOT involved in that process and you can engage in the process manually or automatically, but that is something you do, not Compulife. Compulife NEVER touches your server. The only exception is when we are asked for help with new installations where some customers give us temporary access to sort out an installation issue that they themselves cannot figure out. Such access to a customer server is rare and we prefer NOT to do so. The ONLY time we do so is when it is specifically requested by the customer. We keep no record of User ID's or passwords that we are given, and if we have been given such access we recommend that you terminate the further possibility of our access by changing User ID's and passwords once Compulife has resolved the issue.
To summarize, both the Windows PC and Internet Engine products are autonomous programs that NEVER communicate information about the quotes you are producing back to Compulife; EVER. There can be NO security issue because we get NOTHING from you.
Less Secure BUT Secure
Compulife Web Quotes
Compulife subscribers have the option of purchasing an inexpensive web quoting tool which they can add to their web sites that we call the Web Quote option. That quoting software sells for only $96 per year.
In order for us to do quotes for that customers web site, the user of the customer's quoting page must enter the following information in order to produce a quote:
Gender (male or female)
Smoker (yes or no)
Health Class (P+,Pf,R+ or Rg)
Type of Insurance (10, 20, etc.)
Amount of Insurance
The most personal information Compulife receives is the birth date.
All of the above information is then transmitted to Compulife. Two things about that:
1. This is NOT the process used by those who purchase our Internet Engine. When you have the Internet Engine on your own server that information is NOT given to Compulife, it is given to the Internet Engine that resides on your own server. Compulife does NOT receive that information. I know I keep repeating this but some customers seem to have difficulty getting their heads around the fact that we are NOT involved in the exchange of information when the Internet Engine is running autonomously on the customer's own server.
2. Compulife keeps NO RECORD of the information transmitted to us when a customer is using our web quote option. It is quite clear that the most personal information we get is the birth date. If a subscriber was paranoid about our software on our server being given a birth date (used to calculate ages last and nearest) the subscriber could opt for a modification to the client entry page where the client is asked for their age, last and nearest. If you pass that information then no birth date is required.
Regardless, there is NO security issue because we have no record of the data being sent. If a customer was concerned about the theft of information being sent, we would underline that the customer can themselves LIMIT the amount of information being sent, to the minimum necessary to produce a quote.
A good example of that is that there is a Web Quote option where the quote results offer a "Request Application" button. This button takes the user to a screen where the consumer is asked to provide their name, email and phone number. When that information has been entered and submitted, it is placed into an email form that is sent to the Compulife customer at the email address(s) that the Compulife customer enters into their control panel. Compulife does NOT receive and store a copy of that information, PERIOD.
If a subscriber was concerned that our method of transmission of that information was not up to their "security standards", we would STRONGLY encourage that customer to use the More Info function which then links to ANY web page the subscriber wants to create or use. From that point forward, the customer (not Compulife) controls the handling of any data gathered and transmitted. There is NO WAY Compulife would be involved in the transmission of any information to and from the customer web page.
Having said that, ANY quoting software that asks for client information, and then transmits that information to a third party server (NOT YOUR SERVER) raises the possibility that the information is being recorded and used by a third party. As I said, Compulife does not do so but you have to "trust us" like you have to "TRUST anyone else" doing the same thing.
If you don't feel you can trust anyone (personally, that is how I feel) then there is ONLY one solution that will GUARANTEE the Ultimate in Security, and that's the Compulife Internet Engine. NO TRUST is required, the Internet Engine is a standalone product that runs on your server. You don't have to communicate anything to ANY third party server, PERIOD.
So if you are like me, and don't trust anyone, the ONLY product you should buy is the Internet Engine.
The same security issues that are related to Compulife's Web Quote option will apply to our new API product. To get quote data back from the API, you will have to submit information to the API. Compulife will NOT record that information into our server, we will simply keep a count of how many quotes were requested and sent. If you can't trust us, then BUY THE INTERNET ENGINE and put it on your own server.
NOTE: With the web quote option and the API option there is no need for you to place Compulife data updates on the server. We do that for you.
Work continues on the API and the only thing interfering are interruptions to address bugs or other issues to the existing software.
The new API interface will offer customers a json interface. Json is short for "Java Script Object Notation". Most people developing new programs that run on the internet now use that form of interface to communicate with those programs, and the output from those programs is formatted according to Json standards.
That is what the Compulife's new API will be, a json interface. It will be a way for you to connect to our 20 year old Internet Engine, using the more modern json method to send and receive data. Is that better than the older CGI method we already have? We don't think so but it seems to be the way most people want information sent and delivered. Our new API option will accommodate that.
One big difference between our Internet Engine and the API is where the Internet Engine and database is actually located. Currently, subscribers to the Internet Engine place it on their own server(s). In the case of the new API option, the Internet Engine and database will be on Compulife's server and API customers will communicate with it there. That's good news and bad news.
The good news is that because the Internet Engine will be on Compulife's server, we will do all the updating. That is already what we do with the Web Quote option that we offer to our subscriber. By contrast Internet Engine users must place updated data files on their own servers once they get an update with the Windows PC software. Further, if there is a newer version of the Internet Engine, the Internet Engine customer must also place that program on their server. With the new API if we change the data files or the Internet Engine, we update that to our server and so there will be nothing for the API user to do.
Updating files to their servers is a big issue for some customers. Either they forget to do it or have trouble remembering how to do it. As the person who does all the data files updates for our various servers, it's just part of the routine and takes very little time. By comparison to keeping products and rates updated, putting files on a server is a breeze. Those who want us to do that for them, and still want to control the look, feel and functionality of the quotes on their site, will be able to do so with the API option.
NOTE: If you currently use our web quote option (the $96 per year version) then you already benefit from Compulife doing all that updating work for you.
The bad news with the API is that the Internet Engine is on our server. That means you have no control over what we do with it and you can't know what we are doing with it. With an API, every time you sent a request for a quote we could be recording what you sent us and what we sent back to you.
IMPORTANT: WE DO NOT DO THAT. When I say that you can trust Compulife, that we are not pirating your quoting information, we can back that up with a 37 year reputation of NEVER having done such a thing. By contrast, there are others on the internet offering services and who knows what they are doing?
Consider a similar EXAMPLE: Most Compulife subscribers now pay their Compulife invoices by credit card. Many people who take your credit card information on-line keep a record of your credit card information. Compulife does not do that. No one can steal your credit card info from Compulife because we do not have it, we do not keep any record of it. When you pay your Compulife invoice, you are actually entering the credit card info into our bank's software and website. All we get from the bank is confirmation of the amount that you paid and what invoice you paid.
Our longstanding policy with respect to any quoting information submitted to our quoting software is that it is NOT recorded. There is no history or record of quotes being created. You can trust Compulife.
But TRUST is not an issue if you use the Internet engine on your own server. You run it autonomously on your own server. There is nothing in the software that "phones home" and so you can be absolutely certain we aren't accessing your data, and you can also be certain that the only way that anyone else can access your data is if they steal it from your server. In short, it is the most secure way to use our Internet technology. If security is an issue, Compulife's Internet Engine is the ONLY full proof solution.
Once again, we will maintain the same privacy standards with our API but you will still have to "trust us". If you don't feel you can trust us, then buy Compulife Internet Engine. With the Internet Engine trusting Compulife is not required.
Given all that, we still fully expect that some Internet Engine customers will move to the new API option as it will eliminate the need to update the software and data files. Further, it could save you money depending on the volume of quotes that you do. Most important, the new API will still allow you to fully customize your user's experience and functionality, just as the Internet Engine option allows you to do now. The big difference is that the engine will be on our server and you will be getting raw output that you then format on your server.
And with respect to web quote customers, because the API costs less than the Internet Engine, and allows full customization, we expect a number of web quote users to upgrade from the $96 product to the API. Pricing will be attractive unless you are doing thousands and thousands of quotes per month. But then if you are doing thousands of quotes per month, pricing won't be that big a deal.
The API service will be volume based. Here's a tentative pricing schedule:
1,200 or less quotes per month - $396 per year (includes Compulife Basic
6,000 or less quotes per month - $780 per year (includes Compulife Personal Use)
30,000 or less quotes per month - $1,200 per year (includes Compulife Standard Use)
All of these prices are less than the current cost of the Internet Engine, which is $1,500 per year (including Compulife Standard Use). The price for the engine will remain the same for customers doing 60,000 or less quotes per month. Any customer doing over 60,000 quotes per month will have the price of the Internet Engine increased to $2,200 per year (in addition to their Standard License of $300).
Some current subscribers to the Internet Engine, who are doing smaller volumes of quotes, will probably want to switch to the new API version of the software because their volume is relatively low and they will save money with the API version of quotes. The API customer will still be able to produce the very same quotes that they are producing now and still be able to fully customize their user interface and quote functions. Instead of delivering pages to the customer's website, the API delivers raw output: company information and premiums. The user takes that data and imbeds it into their web pages and systems.
The other advantage of the API over the Internet Engine is that Compulife will take over the updating of rates and software, which means the user has less maintenance. The downside is that quotes will be coming from our server, and if our server goes down, so do your quotes. Having said that, reliability seems high. We have not had many issues with the web quote option for customers, and so we hope the same is true for the API (I should add that I don't trust the internet).
Those doing over 30,000 quotes per month will need to buy the Internet Engine. First, we don't want their high volume use dragging down our server performance. Second, anyone doing that kind of volume needs to pay for the server that they are running the quoting software from, and depending on volume they can get whatever type of server service they want/need, from shared hosting to stand alone equipment.
Our Current Programming Plans for 2019
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2019/2020:
Compulife API Web Quote Option
Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss:
Please don't email me essay questions, just call. If I'm not in, email me your phone number, I'll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2019 and into 2020. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it's full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.