Published on: September 16, 2019 in
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. But you don’t need to be an IT expert to know how to protect yourself from a cyberattack. To help you get started, here are helpful terms you need to know so you’re not left in the dark, whether you’re teaching yourself how to update your anti-malware, updating your systems, or consulting your tech support.
For a long time, the phrase “computer virus” was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack, or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as malware.
Don’t let all the other words ending in “ware” confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is “ransomware,” which is malware that encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.
Intrusion protection system(IPS)
There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but IPSs are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.
Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. Experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called “social engineering” to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.
Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy and often well-known business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value — always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.
Antivirus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well-known malware variants.
Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyberattackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.
When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and “patch” this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest malware.
When antivirus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s workspace ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.
We aren’t just creating a glossary of cybersecurity terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out just how we can help you with your IT woes.
Published on: August 19, 2019 in
To VoIP, or not to VoIP, that is the question that many small- and medium-sized businesses have been asking. And with good reason, since placing calls over the internet with a “Voice over IP” system is an increasingly viable option for SMBs given the robust features, ease of use, and cost savings. But does VoIP guarantee crystal clear local, international, and intra-office calling?
Phones are an absolutely essential aspect of any company’s communications arsenal. And after Alexander Graham Bell made the first coast-to-coast long-distance call in 1915, it was clear that this was technology that had the power to transform business. But as with all emerging technologies, there were some kinks to work out.
The key word, though, is “minor,” and our aim today is to help you identify these relatively slight hangups and help you optimize an already superior telephony solution!
It’s fun to hear your voice repeating throughout the high-walled canyon while you’re hiking, but not so great when you’re having a quick chat on the phone. And while VoIP echo won’t totally disrupt your conversation, there are a few things you can do to reduce it such as adjusting volume and gain settings, upgrading your USB headsets, or even implementing VoIP echo cancellation software.
Many VoIP systems use an ATA, or Analog Telephone Adapter, to convert analog voice signals to digital signals. This sometimes produces static during calls, with the culprits usually being incompatible power supplies or feedback from the phones plugged into the ATA. Easy fixes include unplugging/replugging the ATA and/or the devices connected to it, or switching to IP Phones which require no analog/digital conversions.
The main factor in disjointed, start-stop sounding messages in a VoIP environment is packet loss, which occurs if individual data “packets” are lost in transmission. When this occurs, the gateway at the receiving end of the call tries to predict what’s been lost, but when it can’t, the gap in data remains empty. With a simple tweak to your VoIP system’s bandwidth settings, sending and receiving voice data will become smoother and significantly reduce these interruptions.
Commonly referred to as PDD in VoIP parlance, post-dial delay is fairly self-explanatory. It refers to a delay between the time the caller finishes dialing and when they hear ringing, a busy signal, or some other kind of “in-call” information. It can be a nuisance when, instead of the ringing being delayed, it never actually occurs and you suddenly realize that your call has been connected. This is actually an externality from a vital piece of VoIP technology known as SIP. At the moment the only solace we can offer is that its widespread nature means you’re not alone, and a solution should be coming along soon.
By now it’s clear to most SMBs that a VoIP phone system can benefit their business, even with the occasional delayed ring or scratchy call. Because what we’ve learned from previous telephony advances is that inconveniences like this are manageable; and we can help you manage. From VoIP planning to installation to optimization, contact us today for more information.
Published on: November 7, 2016 in
Traditional mobile calling plans may not be heading the way of the dodo bird quite yet, but there is a viable threat to their existence. The challenge comes from VoIP, and while it’s only in its nascent stages, it is foreshadowing a dark future for Telecoms’ costly monthly plans, spotty call quality, confusing invoices, and questionable customer service.
In technical terms, VoIP is a broadband phone service that uses the internet instead of a public switched telephone network (PSTN). In simpler terms, VoIP stands for “Voice over IP” which is another way of saying “making phone calls over the internet instead of over traditional telephone lines.”
Here are some statistics on internet-based communications that really show where the trend is heading:
- Telecom companies are losing an average of 700,000 landline customers per month
- Skype’s 300 million users spend an average of 3 billion minutes per day on calls
- During its annual stockholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that there are 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls every day — and this was back in 2014
Why the big numbers?
Surely you’ve noticed that you incur no charges when using an application like FaceTime for that quick face-to-face with your associate who’s away on business, or for the video conference with your clients who are stuck at LAX after a cancelled flight. But phone calls for free aren’t the only advantage of VoIP. Many of us utilize it because it has features and benefits that make it a more attractive alternative to the phone company’s usual mobile calling plans.
Take the VoIP functionality in Apple’s latest version of its iOS operating system (iOS 10). Apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger are so well incorporated that they work just like the iPhone’s own phone application. Incoming/outgoing calls interface just like your regular phone, your contacts are fully integrated…You can hardly tell the difference.
So as consumers and businesses continue to recognize the benefits of VoIP and default to applications like FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Line, or Viber for their calling needs, will conventional providers like AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell Canada, etc. get squeezed out?
Can you ditch your legacy voice plans altogether?
It’s food for thought, and even if you don’t abandon them entirely, there are plenty of reasons to make broadband internet phone service a part of your day-to-day operations. And not only on your smartphones and other mobile devices.
Did you know that small businesses that change over to a VoIP network can save up to 40% on their local calls and up to 90% on their international calls? Or that a recent piece in PC World indicated that a business with 30 users on its calling plan saves nearly $1,200 per month when switching to VoIP?
Add in features like call recording, call-routing, conference call bridges, auto attendants, and virtual faxing and it’s easy to see why roughly 31% of all businesses now employ some type of internet-based VoIP telephone system.
So if you have a good-quality internet connection and you’re intrigued by the prospects of moving your business away from your local phone company’s services, we’re here to help. Call us today and together we’ll develop a robust VoIP solution that delivers cost savings, provides state-of-the-art functionality, and presents a professional image to the world.