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Top 6 Benefits of VoIP Phone Systems

What is VoIP?

VoIP or Voice over IP is a newer type of phone system that relies on the internet to route calls instead of traditional telephone cables. Instead of using separate cables for internet and telephone, VoIP simply relies on existing LAN networks to make and receive calls just like any traditional phone system.

Easy Installation

VoIP phone systems require much less upfront setup compared to traditional phone systems since they rely on a business’s pre-existing LAN network. Clunky, outdated phone systems and rewiring are not required.

Cheaper Ongoing Costs

Researchers estimate that the average company saves 40% on hosted VoIP compared to analog systems. Businesses with a high number of international calls can save 90% verses traditional phone systems.

Flexible and Scalable

Management of VoIP phone systems is much easier than traditional phone systems. Adding, reassigning, and removing lines is a done through easy to use software, not complicated rewiring

Convenient for Business

Field workers who need to make and receive calls can do so outside the office. Calls can be diverted to anywhere in the world using cloud hosted VoIP services. Employees can access their voicemail through email. Traditional business call features you expect like call holding, transferring, conferencing, and auto attendant menus are all supported by VoIP systems.

Decrease Outages and Downtime

Never have to worry again about losing productivity and profit due to phone lines being down. VoIP runs off your existing wired LAN network, so if your internet connection works, so do your phones.

Future Proof your Business

VoIP phone systems are here to stay. Don’t run the risk of letting your business get left behind using outdated, expensive, and inefficient analog phone systems

Join the VoIP Revolution

WowLinx is an expert in installing and maintaining VoIP phone systems in a business setting. Stop throwing money away into outdated phone systems and Join the VoIP revolution. Contact us today and see how VoIP can save money and boost productivity within your business.

*Sources courtesy of https://tech.co and https://bebusinessed.com

The Future of Business Computing with Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)

DaaS is a type of cloud virtual desktop infrastructure that is handled by a third-party provider such as Amazon, Citrix, or VMware. All maintenance of the cloud desktop infrastructure is handled by the third-party, making it easy for businesses to deploy desktops in the cloud without hassle. Typically, DaaS providers use a subscription model based on the number of monthly users, so businesses only pay for the services they need.

Reduced hardware costs

DaaS significantly reduces hardware costs businesses are required to shell out to keep their operations running. Businesses can reuse existing hardware to access cloud-based desktops rather than purchasing new equipment year after year. According to IDC research, DaaS reduces computer hardware expenditure by approximately 56% annually.

Enhanced security

Security of the virtual desktops is handled by the provider so business owners can rest assured that their systems are safe and secure.  Data is safely stored in a data center, and not on individual devices which can be vulnerable to attacks.

Greater flexibility

Virtual desktops can be accessed from virtually anywhere, giving employees greater flexibility to get work done on the go or out in the field. Never worry again about where your files are stored, because everything is safely tucked away in the cloud and accessible at any time.

Decreased Maintenance

Virtual desktops are managed by the third-party provider, making costly and time-consuming maintenance a thing of the past. No more wasting time and money maintaining desktop applications and user profiles in-house.

Ask Us Today about DaaS for your Business

Why continue spending astronomical amounts of money on new computer hardware every year when the future of business computing is here and more affordable than ever. Ask us today how DaaS can make your business more efficient while saving you money year over year. WowLinx is unrivaled in installing and maintaining DaaS infrastructure in business settings.

IT Disaster Preparedness Checklist – 5 Things You Need to Know

 

Did you know that 40-60% of small businesses who suffer from IT system failure without a data backup and recovery plan in place end up closing their doors forever? Perhaps your machines become infected with ransomware or a rogue employee takes out your critical business infrastructure. Do you have a plan to keep your business afloat in the event of a catastrophe? Here are five ways to ensure your business can survive IT downtime.

  1. Have a Business Continuity Plan in Place

Having a plan in place in the event of an emergency can save time and money when catastrophe strikes. A continuity plan ensures that your IT infrastructure can get back up and running and your business can survive. A comprehensive plan includes allocation of tasks as well as detailed plans to overcome different types of IT failures. Data recovery strategies should be outlined and tested frequently to ensure business data can be retrieved in the event of an emergency.

  1. Backup Company Data

One of the most important tasks a business can do is backup company data. Data backup is essential to ensuring your assets are safe and accessible in the event of IT failure. Determining what data should be backed up and how it should be backed up is an important aspect of finding what type of backup solution is right for your business.

  1. Keep an Emergency Fund

Having money set aside to cover emergency IT expenses is crucial to ensure your business isn’t strapped for cash when cleaning up after disaster strikes. Replacing broken hardware and installing new software can be incredibly expensive. Having cash on hand to alleviate the financial strain IT disasters can place on your business will greatly decrease stress and financial headaches.

  1. Educate Employees

Ensuring that employees are aware of protocol during an IT failure is essential for a coordinated, company-wide response. Making sure employees know how to report, mitigate, and respond to IT emergencies will ensure that no employee is left out of the loop.

  1. Execute Your Plan

Don’t allow your carefully formulated business continuity plan to get lost in the chaos. Follow your plan step by step until your operations are back up and running. Doing this will ensure that all possible scenarios are accounted for and your business is back in the shortest amount of time possible.

Business Trade Shows Part III: After the Event

 

 
So, you made it back home from the show. You’re exhausted and work has backed up in your absence. Here is where the entire investment in the show can go down the drain. Follow-up is critical. Every one of those prospects need to have follow-up. Lots of it. One contact isn’t going to be enough.
 
First, send out a short email drip that includes a ‘thanks for visiting us at the trade show.’ The second should be a ‘call to action’ email. Send an invitation to meet via phone or in person, and add something for them to download. The download can be a whitepaper, or even just your brochure, but it is always good to attach something.
 
Now comes the really hard work. Contacting prospects. No one is going to just mail you revenues. You need to actively market to your trade show visitors. If some seem uninterested, put their names in a tickler file to try back in 6 months. Just be sure not to just let them drop; the situation may change in the future.
 
In summary, look at a trade show as a marketing event that goes beyond the time spent at a booth in some convention center. It is just a stage in a lengthy and important marketing campaign. Make sure you prepare for the show and do active follow-up afterward. Otherwise a trade show is just an expensive few days meeting lots of people you will never see again.

Business Trade Shows Part II: During the Event

 

 
We’re back. In the last post, we talked about building momentum toward a trade show exhibition. Today, let’s look at your efforts during the show itself.

You already should have sent out a reminder the morning of the show in posts on all your social media accounts, an article on your website blog, and a general email that you’re exhibiting. Now it is time to work the booth.
 
First, recognize that your goal is to use this show to develop as large a list of prospects as possible. That means you not only want visitors at the booth, you need their contact information. The proven way to get attendees contact information is to offer them something for free, or run a contest for something worthwhile. Most booths will offer some give way, coffee mug, etc. at the booth if visitors sign a contact info sheet. People can’t resist free stuff, no matter how much they don’t need another mug or could afford to buy them on their own by the caseload. Therefore, have give a ways.
 
You can also run a contest for those willing to take the time for a demo of your product or service. If they will take the extra step, enter them for a raffle for something of greater value, such as an iPad or tablet.

If anyone shows special interest, keep your non-exhibit hours open to schedule meetings for coffee or a demo.

Beyond getting prospects, use the show for broader networking. Work the other booths and introduce yourself to other exhibitors to get your name known. You can never do enough networking, and you never know when it might pay off. If the exhibitor entrance fee does not include entrance to other networking events such as meals and meet-and-greet-happy-hours, consider buying a ticket for access.These offer additional opportunities to network.

Finally, don’t forget social media. Throughout the show, post pics of yourself with clients or prospects who visited your booth. You can even use the event hashtag if they have one to help your business generate buzz!

Next time, let’s talk about what to do once you get back home.

Is Your Website Mobile Optimized?

 

 
Smaller firms often struggle just to keep up with maintaining a website. Worrying about a scaled­ down version for mobile users seems like just too much trouble. Today’s blog is all about why this matters to you and why should you bother with a mobile version.
 
A bit of background: Mobile sites are versions of your website that can be easily read and used on a small mobile screen. What is readable on a laptop of desktop monitor can be too tiny to use on a small screen. Also, the buttons and fields on your forms become impossible to use.
 
Why does this matter? Three reasons
  1. Showing up in search rankings. If you want to be found in a search and appear high in the ranking, you need to have a “mobile optimized” site. Google has now included the failure to have a mobile optimized site as a specific reason to lower a website in its search rankings. If you don’t have a mobile optimized site, you slip lower in the ranking. Slip lower in the rankings and fewer people ever find you in a search.

  2. More search and web activity now occurs on mobile devices than standard PC and laptops. If you want attention, you need to be “mobile ready.” You can’t just write off those mobile users- ­­there are too many of them.

  3. If your site is too difficult to use on a phone screen, the user is just going to jump to another vendor. There’s nothing else to say.
So the summary is, if you haven’t already done so, you need to bite the bullet and get a mobile optimized site. The internet offers too much business to just ignore the issue.

Password Basics That Are Still Ignored

 

 
You can have all the locks on your data center and have all the network security available, but nothing will keep your data safe if your employees are sloppy with passwords.
 
There are many ways data can be breached, and opening some link they shouldn’t is one of the most serious security sins employees can commit, but today we’ll just talk about passwords.
 
Here are some basic practices that you should require your employees to follow. These are basic tips. System administrators should implement other policies, such as those that forbid using passwords previously used and locking accounts after a few failed attempts to login. But just for you as a manager, here are a few tips.
  1. Change Passwords – Most security experts recommend that companies change out all passwords every 30 to 90 days.
  2. Password Requirements – Should include a of mix upper and lowercase, number, and a symbol.
  3. Teach employees NOT to use standard dictionary words (any language), or personal data that can be known, or could be stolen: addresses, tel numbers, SSN, etc.
  4. Emphasize that employees should not access anything using another employee’s login. To save time or for convenience, employees may leave systems open and let others access them. This is usually done so one person doesn’t take the time to logout and the next has to log back in. Make a policy regarding this and enforce it.
These are just a few basic password tips, but they can make a big difference in keeping your business’s sensitive data safe.

You’re Fired! Now Give Me Your Password

 

 

“You’re FIRED!” ( now give me your password)

Losing an employee is not usually a good experience. If they leave voluntarily, you lose a valuable asset. If they have to be fired, you have the arduous task of the progressive discipline process and the final termination meeting. But there are other concerns that arise when an employee leaves. Those concerns are security and their access to company data.

 
Here are some considerations regarding passwords and voluntary termination (A.K.A. resigned) or involuntary termination (A.K.A. fired.) It is important you have a process in place so that whenever a termination occurs, nothing slips through the cracks regarding corporate data security.
  1. When you dismiss an employee, you should immediately change out all passwords for anything the employee had access to. Because almost all terminations should be planned, you should also define the process for canceling access. It is unwise to cancel prior to the termination meeting. If you do that, you create the potential for a confrontation when they arrive at work and find their passwords have been disabled. Instead, plan ahead and assign someone to disable their passwords during the time you are having the termination meeting. Before the meeting, be sure you have a list of all access cards, keys, etc. prepared so they can be cancelled before the employee leaves the building.
  2. Voluntary terminations ­- Different firms have different policies handling resignations. Depending on the specific position, an employee will be permitted to continue working during their 2 week notice period. In that case, you need to consider if there is any possibility the employee might get up to no good during the final days. That is something only you can judge.
In some cases, firms will ask an employee to leave the facility immediately. In that case, you need to have a plan in place. You need to have a list available of all of the restricted systems to which they have access for when this situation arises. The employee should not leave the building until all of their access has been canceled.

This all may seem a bit harsh, but things have changed. 30 years ago, for a disgruntled employee to steal files, they’d be carrying out large boxes of file folders. Now, not only can they empty the building onto a thumb drive, they can take nefarious action that wasn’t possible when data was stored on paper.

IT Defense in Depth Part II

 

 

Defense in Depth Part II

In our last blog we started talking about the different layers of security necessary to fully defend your data and business integrity. Today we will look at the human aspect of it, and network defenses. The human layer refers to the activities that your employees perform. 95% of security incidences involve human error. Ashley Schwartau of The Security Awareness Company says the two biggest mistakes a company can make are “assuming their employees know internal security policies: and “assuming their employees care enough to follow policy”.

 
Here are some ways Hackers exploit human foibles:
  • Guessing or brute-force solving passwords
  • Tricking employees to open compromised emails or visit compromised websites
  • Tricking employees to divulge sensitive information
 

For the human layer, you need to:

  • Enforce mandatory password changes every 30 to 60 days, or after you lose an employee
  • Train your employees on best practices every 6 months
  • Provide incentives for security conscious behavior.
  • Distribute sensitive information on a need to know basis
  • Require two or more individuals to sign off on any transfers of funds,
  • Watch for suspicious behavior
 

The network layer refers to software attacks delivered online. This is by far the most common vector for attacks, affecting 61% of businesses last year. There are many types of malware: some will spy on you, some will siphon off funds, some will lock away your files.

However, they are all transmitted in the same way:

  • Spam emails or compromised sites
  • “Drive by” downloads, etc.
 

To protect against malware

  • Don’t use business devices on an unsecured network.
  • Don’t allow foreign devices to access your wifi network.
  • Use firewalls to protect your network
  • Make your sure your Wi­Fi network is encrypted.
  • Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Although it is not the be all, end all of security, it will protect you from the most common viruses and help you to notice irregularities
  • Use programs that detect suspicious software behavior
 

The mobile layer refers to the mobile devices used by you and your employees. Security consciousness for mobile devices often lags behind consciousness about security on other platforms, which is why there 11.6 million infected devices at any given moment.

There are several common vectors for compromising mobile devices

  • Traditional malware
  • Malicious apps
  • Network threats
 

To protect your mobile devices you can:

  • Use secure passwords
  • Use encryption
  • Use reputable security apps
  • Enable remote wipe options.
 
Just as each line of defense would have been useless without an HQ to move forces to where they were needed most, IT defense-in-depth policy needs to have a single person, able to monitor each layer for suspicious activity and respond accordingly.

    IT Defense In Depth Part I

     

     
    In the 1930s, France built a trench network called the Maginot Line to rebuff any invasion. The philosophy was simple: if you map out all the places an enemy can attack, and lay down a lot of men and fortifications at those places, you can rebuff any attack. The problem is, you can’t map every possible avenue for attack.
     
    What does this have to do with IT security? Today many business owners install an antivirus program as their Maginot Line and call it a day. However there are many ways to get into a network that circumvent antivirus software.
     
    Hackers are creating viruses faster than antivirus programs can recognise them (about 100,000 new virus types are released daily), and professional cybercriminals will often test their creations against all commercially available platforms before releasing them onto the net.
     
    Even if you had a perfect anti­virus program that could detect and stop every single threat, there are many attacks that circumvent anti­virus programs entirely. For example, if a hacker can get an employee to click on a compromised email or website, or “brute force guess” a weak password, all the antivirus software in the world won’t help you.
     
    There several vulnerabilities a hacker can target: the physical layer, the human layer, the network layer, and the mobile layer. You need a defense plan that will allow you to quickly notice and respond to breaches at each level.
     
    The physical layer refers to the computers and devices that you have in your office. This is the easiest layer to defend, but is exploited surprisingly often.
     
    Here are a few examples:
    • Last year 60% of California businesses reported a stolen smartphone and 43% reported losing a tablet with sensitive information.
    • The breaches perpetrated by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden occurred because they were able to access devices with sensitive information.
    • For example, Comptia left 200 USB devices in front of various public spaces across the country to see if people would pick a strange device and insert into their work or personal computers. 17% fell for it.
    For the physical layer, you need to:
    • Keep all computers and devices under the supervision of an employee or locked away at all times.
    • Only let authorized employees use your devices
    • Do not plug in any unknown USB devices.
    • Destroy obsolete hard drives before throwing them out
    Next time in Part II, we will talk about the human and network layers of security.

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