It’s not a question of if, but when a disaster will hit your company. A prudent company has a disaster recovery plan, covering all components of recovery, and including a public relations/communications plan. It should also include various scenarios for keeping the company running normally as far as is possible while the full recovery process unfolds.
In short, not disaster recovery, but business continuity.
Obviously, the recovery steps and how long it takes to implement them depends on the nature of the disaster. However, all have the common theme of an interruption to normal business that needs to be managed.Continue reading
It is difficult nowadays to find a business that does not use Business VoIP. The cost and business benefits of it are undeniable. Allied to improvements in digital telephony and digital convergence, most large and medium-sized businesses use it extensively as part of their internal and customer-facing processes.
One of the major benefits embraced by business is the ability to improve mobility and accessibility of staff.
In the past, whenever an employee left the office they were mostly uncontactable. At best they were contactable in the evening at home or in their accommodation on the road. This made communications between staff and the office difficult at best.Continue reading
VoIP for Business provides a range of benefits, including substantial cost-savings that make it a must-have for most businesses. However, as with most IT advances, VoIP has attracted the dark side of the developers. Hackers and scammers are using VoIP for Business as a way to steal data and execute hacking exploits.
As with other types of malware attacks, business need to be aware of how these exploits are executed and what preventative measures they can take.
The first thing to understand is that most successful hacking attacks are by having users provide sensitive information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, and they are increasingly using VoIP to steal personal and company data or just cause mischief.
Here are some common types of attack and how to avoid them.
An attacker can hack into your VoIP system to record business conversations. They can then be decrypted, sometimes in real time, to obtain crucial business or personal information.
The first step is obviously to prevent hackers entering your VoIP system in the first place. Change server passwords, and under no circumstances continue to use the manufacturer-supplied default passwords.
Because your VoIP call is likely to be routed outside your network, protecting your calls from interception can be out of your hands. If security is a major concern there are software tools that provide a second layer of end-to-end encryption. Adding a second encryption layer makes it highly unlikely that calls can be decrypted in real time, and even when recorded calls are analysed offline.
If you are using a VoIP Hosted Service supplier, you need to be very careful about the security they provide. You need to be sure that they are as secure as you would be with an inhouse system.
Firewalls and Security
All companies already implement firewalls and security in their overall ICT infrastructure. If you are concerned about security, it may be prudent to deploy a VoIP specific firewall that closes a VoIP session once the call is complete. This prevents hackers piggy-backing on a session to find out information about your VoIP system.
In a high-security environment, you may consider adding further layers of security, for example allowing only authenticated devices to make or receive VoIP calls.
You can implement all the security technical features you like, but the majority of successful data breaches and hack attacks occur because of user error, deliberate or malicious.
In a phone-based phishing attack, the hacker calls a user and pretends to be from IT support or from a recognised company IT supplier.
In an attack on a user, they either quiz the user for personal information like credit card numbers, bank account details or information on family or friends. Sometimes they claim to be from IT Support and need the user to go to a web-site, “to update their software”, and the malware finds its way onto the company network.
Support policies applied by ICT need to ensure that all ICT maintenance functions are carried out by staff with verifiable credentials. In any event, most ICT update functions can be carried out remotely without user involvement.
Users need to be educated not to respond the requests by third parties to carry out maintenance tasks on their PCs and to refer the caller to IT support.
Fake Caller/Caller ID
A phishing attack over a VoIP or cellular connection can be legitimised by having a caller-id that shows the call coming from a reputable source. Unfortunately, caller-ids can be faked. Users need to be very careful and verify that the caller is legitimate before divulging any potentially sensitive information.
A carry-over from the dial-up modem days, a hacker sends out a phone message to hundreds of phone voicemail boxes, asking the caller to return a call. This legitimises the number and allows the hacker to carry out a phishing attack.
In short, VoIP defences have two components, technical appliance and software defences, and an education programme for users to make sure that they do not provide potentially sensitive information to a third party. Obviously, electronic defences need to be kept up to date. Users need to be educated on general and VoIP security on a regular basis.
The scope of VoIP Services has grown dramatically since they first appeared some years ago. In size they are available from the Big Iron on-site replacements for the PABX to the small desktop-based software VoIP systems and in location from onsite to hosted. In a similar way, the VoIP services offered have matured and grown in scope and applicability.
If we start with the assumption that VoIP is an essential for modern businesses of all sizes, then the question becomes what VoIP Services should a business consider. What different types of VoIP services are there?
In essence, there are three types of VoIP Service: In-house, hosted and hybrid.Continue reading
The benefits that VoIP for Business can bring to your business are undeniable. Add to that Cloud VoIP, hosted or on-site and you have a winning combination that can add significantly to your business profile.
Depending on the size of the business, either implementation can be applicable. However, having said that, a cloud-based approach can fit more easily with an existing cloud-based environment, either on‑site or hosted.
Before choosing a particular approach, it is best to consider firstly whether on-site or hosted VoIP is better suited to the business, and secondly, whether a Cloud-based architecture is appropriate.Continue reading
Thanks to digital convergence, Voice over IP (“VoIP”) business systems are commonplace in businesses worldwide. Most major Telcos, networking companies and many third-party suppliers provide VoIP for Business systems and services as part of their hardware and software repertoire.
As usual, you need to be careful before committing money and resources to a particular VoIP for Business solution by making sure you understand exactly what you want. You need to consider the functions required of your VoIP solution and set them out in a wish-list. Knowing your budget is also essential. You can use these criteria to measure solutions and see how closely they meet your needs.Continue reading
One of the success stories of recent times has been the adoption of Digital Telephony by all sizes of business. Large businesses have installed their own hardware and software, and small businesses tend to use Cloud PBX implementations, either in-house or hosted.
A more recent development has been the convergence of video conferencing with Cloud PBX implementations. Video calls using applications like WhatsApp and Skype have been around for some time, and have been used over the PSTN and digital telephone networks from both desktop and smart devices. Since Microsoft bought Skype, introduced Skype for Business, and fully integrated it with the Azure cloud environment, it has become a major player in the Cloud PBX landscape.Continue reading
The management, financial and business benefits of VoIP are well-known and many businesses, both large and small, have adopted VoIP solutions to enhance their business profile. As usual however, once Business VoIP is implemented, businesses find other benefits from their VoIP Solution that help business growth.
What are the leading trends that are driving business growth today?Continue reading
Many businesses have embraced digital convergence by replacing the traditional Telco supplied on-premise PBX with a digital PBX. The positive benefits of the new features and functions of the digital business telephone system and sharply reduced call costs have proved too good to miss. In many cases businesses have been able to reap the benefits of a digital business telephone system by moving to an external hosted solution managed by a service provider and moving away completely from the traditional Telco.
There is a current debate going on about if it is better to use an on-premise PBX or an outsourced service provider. There is no definitive answer, other than that for small businesses outsourced makes better economic sense, and on-premise is better for large business.Continue reading
The advent of Voice over IP telephony (“VoIP”) has radically changed the face of communications for both personal and business users. It has opened up opportunities for enhanced, and substantially cheaper communications, especially for long-distance and international calls. VoIP for Business has provided communications options that are not possible with a fixed line environment.
However, the prudent personal and business user needs to be vigilant to make the best return on their investment and achieve the lowest possible international call rates.
Here are three simple tips for personal and business users to make sure that they accrue the full benefit of cheaper international communications.Continue reading