Category: Hosted

BYOD can have some downsides

Employers know that employees prefer BYOD policies and that they can increase productivity. However, BYOD can have some downsides. Probably the most prominent concern among those who have to address the BYOD issue is the increased risk to data security. Obviously, the more devices you have with the ability to connect to your data, the more opportunities you create for a breach. Simply put, a house with 20 doors and 50 windows with multiple lock styles is a bit more vulnerable than a house with one door and one window.

BYOD increases risk to the organization. Data breaches bring a few layers of concern. First, the loss of proprietary data can affect your competitive status in the market. However, the real high-visibility concern is the theft of your customer’s personal data. Theft of personal data brings three serious consequences.

First, data breach laws require informing all victims of the data breach and in some cases, the media must also be informed. This public visibility can have long-lasting implications for brand value.

Second, you face a short- and long-term revenue hit. Customers angry and frustrated, as well as others who learn about the breach through social media, word-of-mouth, and traditional media sources, may move their business to the competition.

Third, data breaches can bring civil penalties. In the case of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, these penalties can be extremely severe. ( And keep in mind, the GDPR doesn’t just apply to entities physical operating within the EU. It applies to the data of any user who is a citizen of the EU.)

In summary, given the severity of the consequences and the increased vulnerability created by BYOD, it is important to create a BYOD policy with strict parameters. It cannot be a “wild west” of anything goes.

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3 Things to consider before you sign-up with a cloud services provider

More and more SMBs are migrating to the cloud and that is not a surprise considering the numerous benefits the cloud can offer them. For a SMB, the cloud is a cost efficient and secure answer to their growing data needs and IT security requirements. The cloud grows with them and lets them scale their business without worrying about a corresponding rise in IT costs. Plus, with the cloud, the important aspects of security and backups are mostly taken care of by the cloud service provider. And then, there’s the convenience of any-time-anywhere data access. With all these benefits that the cloud brings, what’s there to think about before signing up with a cloud service provider? While are a lot of benefits of storing your data on the cloud, but your data is still yours, so there are a few things you need to know and be comfortable with before you jump onto the cloud.

 

Data storage location

Ask your cloud services provider where, (as in the location of the data center) your data will be stored. Ask them if they have multiple data centers and if yes, then, will they be backing up your data and storing them at different places. It is great if your cloud services provider does that, since that ensures higher safety of your data.

How secure will your data be?

Yes. When you hire a cloud services provider, a major chunk of your data’s security responsibility is passed onto them. You don’t have to really worry about your data security, but, you still need to know how they plan to keep your data safe. Ask your cloud services provider for details regarding their data security procedure. Have them share all policies, SOPs and data security frameworks that they claim to have in place.

Past performance/data loss history

Everyone talks about their best projects in a sales meeting. What you really need to know are the worst ones. Ask your cloud services provider to share with you their data loss/downtime trends for the past one year. Observe the trend. How often does their system give way and how long does it last? This is important for you to understand, because this metric translates into loss of business for you.

Finally, don’t forget to ask for a client list. Like we said before, everyone highlights the good things about themselves in a sales meeting. If you really want to know how good your cloud service provider is, ask them for a client list–both current and past. Check how many of them are from your industry vertical. Try reaching out to those who are willing to talk. Find out what they like the most about your cloud service provider and what aspects they find negative. Find out why their former customers left them. Usually customers are pretty good indicators of the quality of service a business provides. Hope these tips help you finding a cloud service provider who fits in well with your needs.

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Windows 7 End of Life: How does it impact you

Microsoft has officially announced the “End of Life” date for Windows 7. It will come January 14, 2020. Windows 7 was introduced in 2009 and is one of the most popular versions of Windows. It is estimated that around 40% of Windows OS is 7. So, if you are one of the Windows 7 users, read this blog to understand how this end of life announcement impacts you and what you should be doing.

End of life means, beyond January 2020, users of Windows 7 will not get any updates, security patches, or any kind of support from Microsoft. Does this mean you need to scrap all your devices that run on the Windows 7 OS? Technically, the answer is no. You can still continue to use your existing computer with Windows 7 OS, but it won’t get the free security patches and updates. This makes your computer and possibly your whole IT network vulnerable to malware and other IT security threats. Plus, as a business, running Windows 7 OS without the security patches and updates is not really an option as it creates liabilities in the event of data theft. Also, you may be inadvertently violating regulations by using an OS that’s officially declared vulnerable to security threats. In short, running Windows 7 without the support is not really an option for businesses.

So, what should you be doing? First off, make sure you download Microsoft’s most recent Windows 7 update, because if you don’t run the most recent update, you will lose Microsoft support 6 months earlier–in July 2019. You can download the update here.

Apart from this, you can buy extended support for Windows 7 from Microsoft. The extended support will be available until 2023. An MSP who is an authorized Microsoft reseller or partner will be able to tell you more about this option and the pricing, in particular.

In the long run, however, you will have to migrate to a newer, supported version of Windows. 

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What are SIP Trunks?

As a business owner, you are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and re-prioritize your spending. With all the services you are tasked with managing (merchant services, shipping services, payroll services, etc.) it’s understandable you haven’t mastered the knowledge of each industry. Maybe you’ve heard of SIP trunking, and maybe a friend of yours saves money by using it with his business, but you’d like to know more about how it works before you contact providers.

Conventional analog phone lines have dominated business communication for a century. Long distance and international calls can cost a fortune. The fact that a traditional copper-based phone line can only handle one call at a time means you’re constantly investing in a new “trunk”, every time you need to add call capacity.

By allowing you to make calls over the Internet, VoIP can reduce costs of long distance calls while making it far easier to scale up the number of calls you need to make at once.

A SIP trunk is the virtual version of an analog phone line. Using SIP trunks, a SIP provider can connect one, two, or twenty channels to your PBX, allowing you to make local, long distance, and international calls over the Internet. If you have an on-premises PBX in your office, a SIP trunk provider can connect to you and allow you to make outbound calls on your existing system, without restrictions on the number of concurrent calls.

Metered SIP trunking is delivered and charged on usage, so each minute will incur a charge. Metered trunking is very flexible in that there are no limitations to the number of concurrent calls, as you are just charged for each minute of each call. Metered services allows businesses the flexibility to dynamically add calls and just pay for the additional usage.

Channelized SIP trunking is a prepaid option that provides unlimited inbound and outbound local and long distance calls on per channel/call basis. Each Channel provides the ability to make or receive a single call. Once you have filled all of your channels you will be unable to make or receive additional calls. Channels can always be added for more capacity by contacting your provider. This type of SIP trunking service allows businesses a way to easily budget their telecom spending and is similar in capacity handling to copper phone lines.

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Device configurations need to be backed up as well

Device configurations need to be backed up often to maintain a repository of backups ready to be restored in case of emergencies. In large enterprises with more number of devices, this task of getting the device configuration backup up becomes a huge mundane task taking up most of the time of an admin. Being able to automate configuration backups will free up a network admin’s time to do productivity enhancing tasks.

Any change made to the device configuration in a network carries the possibility of an error. An erroneous configuration change can cause network issues ranging from performance degradation to network outage. This is particularly true for those network devices that are crucial for the infrastructure. Any change in such devices should be detected and the configuration file of the device must be backed up.

Unauthorized configuration changes often wreak havoc to the business continuity and hence detecting changes is a crucial task. Detection should be real-time to have effective control. Network Configuration Manager offers real-time configuration change detection.

All of these are reasons why you should have an automated software solution to backup and monitor your network infrastructure.

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Hosted PBX Vs On Premise PBX

There are pros and cons of both hosted PBX as well as on-premise PBX. There are some fundamental differences to each of the systems and they feature advantages that should be known prior to making a decision on one or the other. The move to an IP-PBX business phone system is beneficial regardless of which system is ultimately chosen. However, there are differences and knowing those leads to a better VoIP phone system and a higher level of satisfaction for the company, employees and even callers.

What is Hosted PBX?

Hosted PBX or hosted VoIP, otherwise known as an Internet phone system is one where the provider is responsible for housing the IP-PBX as well as handling the technology required to provide the services to the phone system. The desk sets will plug into a router and the calls, signaling, and features are handled through an IP-PBX server at the provider’s location. The provider of the hosted PBX charges a monthly fee that is inclusive of a minutes package and potentially certain features. Charges can also be at a per minute calling cost. Either one can be affordable depending on the rates. A company that knows the amount of minutes spent on the phone in a given month can make effective cost comparisons. Extended features may come with additional cost.

What is On Premise PBX?

On-premise PBX is also known as an IP-PBX phone system. It is similar to a traditional PBX system that resides at a location, such as a computer equipment room or phone closet. The main difference is that IP routing is done with more current technology. The signaling is done with an IP phone to the IP-PBX server using a LAN. Calls can go through a traditional phone company as well as voice over Internet (VoIP) using SIP trunking. Gateway cards are used to connect the system to the traditional phone company provider. The provider can be the one that already provides service, though a SIP trunk can be configured for use with an Internet service telephone provider (ISTP). An Asterisk based system is the most affordable option for on-premise PBX due to the flexibility that is offered with open source software.

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What’s the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft Office

Office 365 is a subscription service that ensures you always have the most up-to-date tools from Microsoft. There are Office 365 plans for home and personal use, as well as for small and midsized businesses, large enterprises, schools, and nonprofits.

All Office 365 plans for home and personal use include Office 2016 with the fully installed Office applications that you’re familiar with, like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, plus extra online storage, ongoing tech support at no extra cost, and more. You can choose to pay for your subscription on a monthly or yearly basis, and the Office 365 Home plan lets you share your subscription with up to four members of your household.

Most of the Office 365 plans for business, schools, and nonprofits include the fully installed applications, but Microsoft also offers basic plans with the online versions of Office, file storage, and email. You decide what works best for you: Smaller business, Enterprise, School, or Nonprofit.

Office 2016 is also sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office applications for one computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs (such as Office Home & Student 2016) and Macs (such as Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac). One-time purchases don’t have an upgrade option, which means if you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you’ll have to buy it at full price.

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