VoIP Systems Advantages

VoIP Communications Systems Advantages

Information has become key to doing business, and communication and collaboration tools are now a vitally important part of company infrastructure.

Advances in communications technology over recent years have made it easier, faster and cheaper to connect with employees and customers than ever before. And this phenomenon is allowing companies to grow at an unprecedented rate.

One of the most important developments is without question VoIP telephony.

Key VoIP advantages

VoIP technology has several key benefits over traditional telecommunications systems including:

  • Cost – VoIP calls are considerably cheaper than tradition phone services, and in many situations call are actually free. Calling from one VoIP system to another comes at no cost, as the call is carried over your existing internet infrastructure, as opposed to a separate phone line. VoIP fees for international calls are also very attractive compared to traditional operators, allowing you to connect more easily with customers in new markets.

 

  • Data and analytics – VoIP systems make it easy to track details about incoming and outgoing calls, such as number and frequency of calls, and call duration. This is really useful for analysing things such as the performance of call centre staff or sales teams. Are they hitting the required number of calls each day and what is the average call duration?

 

  • Integration with other systems – VoIP can be integrated into other business systems, such as CRM, vastly increasing the functionality of both systems. The CRM could then log the number of times each client has been called, or prompt employees to contact customers that have not been contacted for a certain length of time.

 

  • Mobility – As VoIP functions over the internet rather than a fixed telephone line, you can take your phone number with you wherever you go. This is great for employees who work flexibly between the office and home, or who travel frequently.

 

  • Productivity – Many of the features mentioned above translate into better employee productivity, enabling them to get more done in the same period of time. The “click to dial” feature is a great example, saving employees from having to key in individual phone numbers.

For more information on how VoIP could help to transform your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Why Private Cloud Computing

Benefits of Private Cloud Computing.

Many people are familiar with cloud computing and understand that it comes with lots of benefits Private Cloud Services - IT Support Londonin terms of flexibility, scalability and time to market. However, there are also problems with public cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which make them unsuitable for certain tasks and organisations.

Two of the key concerns are related to security and data residency. In particularly, there are legal considerations to be made about where your data is being stored, as some types of data are not allowed to leave the UK or the EU, and with public cloud services it is not always easy to guarantee this.

The compromise is an internal “private cloud” where you own the infrastructure yourself, but run it in the same cloud style model.

Key Benefits of Private cloud

The private cloud approach lets you retain many of the benefits of a public cloud, but without the other concerns. Some of the key benefits of private cloud computing includes:

  • Improved security – When building a private cloud you are no longer depending on the security protocols of a third party cloud provider, and therefore have the ability to set the security of each component to the level you require. This can include everything from the choice of firewalls and anti-virus, to the physical locks on the door of the data centre, depending on how much of the end to end infrastructure you want to own and operate.
  • Better Stability and Disaster recovery – A private cloud of pooled virtual server resources, means that problems with individual nodes on the network effectively become irrelevant, as server resources can be shifted between machines. This allows you to achieve excellent redundancy, keeping your data and systems safe and operational for as long as possible.
  • Higher Efficiency – Using virtual servers on a private cloud allows you to achieve far higher utilisation rates that you could otherwise, meaning that you are getting the most from your hardware investment. You also have far greater control over how and when you scale the environment up or down, for example test environments can be switched off if they are not being used.
  • Greater flexibility and time to market – With a private cloud you can spin up new server environments in a matter of minutes, enabling you to get new products and services to market really quickly. You don’t have to wait on procurement to order new hardware at the start of each project, saving precious time and money. On the flip side, you also have the flexibility to switch off servers easily if they are not being used.

Private Cloud Implementation Expertise

If you are interested in utilising cloud computing but are concerned by certain aspects of the public cloud model, a privately hosted cloud could be the perfect option for you.

But private doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to run it yourself, with many IT services companies offering to build and operate a private cloud environment on your premises. This further enhances the benefits of the model, as you don’t have to fill the skills gap to run such a service, or support it on a daily basis.

If you would like to know how Private Cloud can benefit you click here or call : 0844 770 0199

Antivirus Review

Review your Anti-Virus Software to Protect your Systems

It is widely agreed that the threat of cybercrime has increased dramatically over recent years, with businesses and individuals falling victim to online attacks more and more.

Despite this, many people have still not taken the simple step of installing antivirus software to help protect their personal data and systems.

Getting started with Antivirus software

The core purpose of antivirus programs is to detect malicious software on your machine and to safely incubate it, before permanently deleting it. But depending on the specific application they can also protect you in other ways such as detecting and blocking suspicious URLs when you are browsing the internet.

The software works by constantly running in the background, scanning files and applications. Before you open a program your antivirus application will check it against a list of known viruses to see if it is safe to open.

If the application looks in anyway suspicious you will usually get a pop up warning you of the potential virus and asking you to confirm if you would still like to open it.

Most applications will cover the full range of harmful code such as malware, ransomware and other types of computer virus.

Popular Antivirus solutions

There are many different antivirus solutions available today, including a wide range of free tools that you can easily download.

Some of the most popular antivirus tools include:

  • Windows Defender – Previously known as Microsoft Security Essentials, this software is built into Windows 10 and is therefore the default choice for many. It is free to install, with free updates.
  • Norton – Norton offers a range of paid antivirus packages, starting from single machines and scaling up to many different devices. Many of the packages also give you access to an expert from Norton to help protect your devices.
  • McAfee – McAfee is generally regarded as the world’s largest security technology company, offering solutions to both individuals and businesses. They offer a wide range of packages on an annual subscription basis, which also include a money back guarantee if they fail to remove viruses from your machine.

This software is simple to install and set up for individual users, but business users would benefit from speaking to IT professionals for guidance on the most comprehensive and cost effective way to protect their systems as part of a company wide security strategy.

Ensure that your antivirus software is up to date

Simply installing antivirus software in the first place is not enough, in order to get the best results and ensure you are fully protected it is essential that you update your software regularly. Cyber criminals are constantly looking of new ways to exploit systems, and likewise software providers are always looking for ways to make their solutions more secure.

Most antivirus packages will automatically look for updates each time you connect to the internet, but you will sometimes be prompted to restart your machine in order for the changes to take effect.

Cyber Security Threats

Are You Taking The Cyber Security Threat Seriously?

The threat of cyber-attacks has been talked about with increasing frequency in the media over the past few years, and recent incidents have brought to light how real this threat is. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack disrupted computer systems around the globe, and a similar style attack was announced at the end of June, impacting sites such as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Despite the fact that these attacks were over a month apart, many companies still seem to have been caught off guard, suggesting that they failed to take necessary precautions.

This is indicative of a problem within cyber security circles. Even when the threat is well known, people often don’t think that it will happen to them, and put off making the strategic decisions about how best to protect their systems.

Is Cyber Security just a “nice to have”?

Although companies are increasingly aware of the risks they are exposed to, when it comes to justifying investment in security, it can be very difficult to get the business case through. Investment prioritisation exercises tend to favour revenue generating initiatives, without fully appreciating that a cyber threat could cripple the business entirely.

One method to help raise the profile and importance of cyber security is to look at the types of attacks that could occur and consider the impact each will have on your business.

For example:

  • You are hit by a ransomware attack that downs your systems and prevents you trading. What is the cost to your business if you can’t trade for even one day? How many days could you survive without trading while you tried to fix the problem?
  • Your customer data is stolen by hackers. Could your brand survive the reputation damage and legal fines for not properly securing customer data? How long would it take you to regain customers trust?

The Likelihood of a Cyber Attack

Calculating the likelihood of a cyber security threat occurring is difficult, but understanding the devastating effect they can have on your business helps to justify the comparatively small investment you would need to make in cyber security to help prevent them occurring.
Going a step further and looking at the exposure of each of your individual systems will enable you to decide which risks you want to mitigate, and which you are happy to live with.

If you don’t have the expertise in house to carry out this analysis, it is worth getting a security audit from an external provider. An independent review of your systems could also help to support your business case for investment in cyber security initiatives.

Create a response plan in advance

Whatever level of cyber security you decide to opt for, it is worth crafting a response plan should the worst occur.

Many companies have been praised for how swiftly they shut off corporate email in the wake of the WannaCry attack to stop the virus spreading. If you know what steps to take in advance and act quickly, it can make a huge difference to the outcome of the attack.

Office Networks

Understanding the Importance of Office Networks

Office networks are becoming an increasingly important component of any business. Over the past decade, companies have been using IT systems to increase productivity and efficiency by fostering greater collaboration and slicker links between disparate parts of the business. Office networks are key to underpinning this interconnectivity.

An effective office network can have a multiplicative effect, compounding and accelerating the success of other elements in your business. It can also help to save employees time, which can be reinvested in value-add activities, ultimately improving your company’s overall performance.

Key Office Network Components

The core components of a network are:

  • Network Router – A router serves as the central form of communication between the devices and the outside world. It is referred to as a splitter in how it functions and could be seen as the hub of all communications.
  • Network Software – The router is the hardware, but your network also needs software to tell it how to handle data transfer. Networking software is essential for running the router and controlling its main function. This can also include other types of software like firewalls to ensure the security of the network.
  • Cable Connectors or Wi-Fi – There needs to be something to connect each computer or device to the network router. You can either use a hard form of connection like cable connectors (Ethernet cables) or you can have a wireless network. Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly popular as it enables people and equipment to move around the office in a more ad hoc fashion while remaining connected to the network.

Once you have the basics of the network right, like providing secure internet access to employees, and shared drives to enable seamless file sharing between workers, you can start to think about more complex tasks that will really differentiate your business from your competitors.

This might include greater interconnectivity between networked devices, like machinery, allowing you to remove manual intervention and automate parts of your workflow. It could also mean collecting data from different systems into a central repository to help you understand how you can optimise your business.

The possibilities are almost endless, but it is essential that you put the right building blocks in place from the outset, so that you can do the more complicated tasks further down the line.

Network Investment and Maintenance

As your business becomes increasingly reliant on the network, it is essential that you don’t simply view it as a one off investment.

Doing a frequent check-up will help to avoid lots of problems in the future, and will highlight any element of the network that might need upgrading or replacing. You will need to ensure that your IT technicians have the right skills to carry out these check-ups and fix issues as they occur.

Rather than hiring full time staff, many small business choose to partner with an external company who will offer 24/7 network support should the network go down.

Setting aside additional funds to upgrade the network over time will ensure that you benefit from increased productivity gains that come with improved technology, enabling your company to continue to prosper long into the future.

How to Avoid Spam

How to Avoid Spam and Free Up Your Time.

Spam is one of the few things that everyone can agree we receive too much of these days. It is one thing to receive lots of email from family or business contacts, but when you include spam, it can start to feel entirely overwhelming.

We can broadly define spam as any messages sent over the internet that are either irrelevant or inappropriate. They’re usually trying to sell something, give you a virus, or con you into something. Processing all these messages, and deciding which ones are relevant can be a tedious draw on your time.

Three useful tips to avoid spam from entering your life:

  • Be extremely careful about what websites you give your email address to

The key here is to make sure you aren’t constantly giving out your email address to companies, especially the suspicious ones. Not only will some legitimate companies bombard you with unwanted messages, but the more nefarious ones will sell your information to other companies who will email you junk.

Unless you specifically want to receive frequent emails from companies, you should always remember to untick the opt-in box that gives them permission to send you marketing messages.

  • Get a spam blocker or junk filter

Most adware suites or email clients come with some sort of a spam solution. These are usually worthwhile and will automatically sort the spam out of your life and into a junk mail folder. The downside is that these functions aren’t always accurate and you could possibly miss out on an email that was meant for you.

This means you should still check your spam folder every few weeks to see if anything important that somehow got filtered there due to a big attachment or outbound link.

  • Use a separate email for any potential spam

Rather than having just a personal email and business email, create a spam email as well. This is something you check a little less regularly, and when you do, you do it with a mindset focused on aggressive deletion of irrelevant emails.

If you’re operating on Gmail, there is a great tip available that allows you sign up for an additional email under your own name, just by putting a “+” sign at the end of your name. For example, if your original email was “john.nospam@gmail.com”, you could create another email “john.nospam+spamfolder@gmail.com”, and then filter your junk mail to there.

Between these three tips, you should be well on your way to fighting spam and eliminating the annoyances from your life. Most of the time, it just comes down to constantly opting out of the mailing lists and being vigilant about who you give your details to. Employing tools like spam filters, even though they are by no means perfect, will help to further eliminate nuisance emails.

 

Cyber Security – Understanding the Threat of Cyber Attacks

Cyber Attacks

The recent randsomware cyber attack brought to light the damage that can be done by hackers targeting vulnerable IT systems. While the NHS has received a lot of attention in the press, this attack in fact impacted organisations and individuals around the world.

A 2017 survey by the British Chambers of Commerce revealed that 20% of UK businesses have fallen victim to a cyber-attack in the past year.

While larger companies and well-known brands are the most likely to be targeted, small businesses are also under threat. 18% of small companies (with fewer than 99 employees) also found themselves hacked in the past 12 months.

Before taking the necessary precautionary steps to protect your website, your data and your business, it is worth investing some time to educate yourself as to the types of attacks that you could be exposed to.

Some of the most common cyber attacks include:

  • DDoS attacks –

    Distributed denial of service attacks prevent real customers from using your website or service, by flooding you with traffic from multiple different sources.

  • Malware –

    Malicious Software, or Malware, includes a number of different types, all of which are intended to disrupt normal computer operations. Specific examples include:

    • Adware – Displays unwanted adverts to users, with users often being inundated with pop up ads.
    • Spyware – Tracks usage information and sends it to third parties
    • Randsomware – Blocks access to the data on your machine until you agree to pay a randsom to unlock it.
  • Phishing –

    Phishing attacks can include emails, websites or even phone calls, where hackers impersonate trusted organisations to try to convince you to hand over personal information, or install suspicious software on your machine. For example, you may receive an email that appears to be from your bank, asking you to reset your password. This could then redirect you to a site where you would input your password and other personal data that could be used to access your accounts.

  • Password attacks and credential reuse –

    Phishing is just one way hackers can steal your passwords. Other techniques include brute force password attacks, which involve using automated software programs to try to guess your password. As many people use the same password on multiple sites, once they have your password, hackers will try to compromise and steal data from other sites using the same log in details.

  • Man in the middle –

    This type of attack occurs when a hacker positions themselves between two people or systems communicating over a network. This allows them to intercept data that is being transferred between the two parties, without either side knowing. Conversations that were meant to be private are at risk of MITM attacks, as are sites that require users to login, as the log in data can be compromised.

Protecting Yourself from a Cyber Attack

By working with security experts to understand which type cyber attack you are most exposed to, you can build a secure and effective strategy to help keep cyber criminals at bay.

Though some businesses may see cyber security as an unwanted and unnecessary cost, the true cost to your business of a full cyber attack will be far greater if you fail to take sufficient precautionary action.

See this blog on How to Prevent Cyber Attacks  or for more information and advice Contact Us: 0844 770 0199

How To Prevent Cyber Attacks

How Businesses Can Prevent Cyber Attacks.

Cyber security has become a key focus area for IT leaders over recent years, with many now citing it as their primary concern. The increased reliance on information technology to run our businesses, coupled with the rise in external threats, means that failing to properly protect your systems could be extremely costly.

For companies in the public eye, the immediate damage to systems is greatly overshadowed by the impact to the company’s reputation in the wake of a data breach.

Thankfully, as cyber security has matured, experts have developed a multitude of tactics to detect suspicious activity and prevent further damage being caused.

Measures to Prevent Cyber Attacks

  • Firewall – Firewalls act as a barrier between your network and the external world, giving you the opportunity to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. For additional security, many companies are now looking to dual layer firewalls, increasing the difficulty for criminals to find their way in.
  • Intrusion prevention and detection – Intrusion detection systems monitor network traffic and look for suspicions and malicious activity. This information is then logged and used to alert the necessary people so that appropriate action can be taken. Prevention systems go beyond this, proactively blocking traffic that looks to be suspicious.
  • Antivirus – Antivirus software detects and prevents systems from the harmful effects of viruses and other types of malware such as key loggers, Trojan horses, spyware and adware.

Cyber Security Hygene

While external attacks pose the greatest threat, often it is the behaviour of internal users and hygiene of internal systems that allow these attackers to get a foothold on your network. Under the broader cyber security umbrella there are several things you can directly control that will make it more difficult for intrusion to occur in the first place.

  • Access management – Staying on top of access management ensures that access privileges are assigned to users at the correct level. Limiting the number of users with administrator access prevents further damage if usernames and passwords become compromised.
  • URL filtering – Controlling and filtering the content that can be accessed on the internet helps to limit exposure to sources that could potentially be harmful.
  • Data leakage prevention – Data filters can be used to recognise particular data types such as credit card numbers or account numbers, and prompt users before this information can be emailed outside the organisation.

Cyber Security Technology

Technology to prevent cyber attacks has come a long way, but it is still important to educate users as to the role they have to play in protecting the organisation.

Creating a culture where internal users are aware of the dangers of cyber attacks, and the damage that can be caused by clicking suspicious links or downloading suspect files is a key part of keeping hackers at bay.

VoIP Phone System Advantages

VoIP Phone Advantages

In an increasingly competitive world, it is important that your business stays up to date with the latest technologies to empower your employees and surpass your competition.

Due to the global nature of many businesses today, communication has become a vital part of how we work, but it doesn’t come without costs and challenges.

VoIP  or  Voice over Internet Protocol

Has become a popular way to reduce the cost of telephony and improve communication between teams around the world.

VoIP works by converting voice calls into data, and transmitting them over the internet, as opposed to the standard telephone networks.

In practical terms, you have two options for implementing VoIP for your business:

  • Use your PC as a phone – Simply by installing VoIP software on your PC, and using a headset and a microphone, you can start to use your PC like a phone
  • Have a dedicated VoIP phone – Alternatively you can have dedicated VoIP phone hardware, which looks and feels like a normal fixed line phone, but actually connects to the internet via your PC.

People traditionally associate VoIP technology with cheap calls, but it also allows you to do a whole host of things that you wouldn’t be able to do with a traditional phone line.

Benefits of VoIP systems

The nature of VoIP means that it has many benefits over traditional telephony services, including:

  • Portable – As your phone connects over the internet, you can use the same number wherever you have internet access
  • Multimedia – For no extra cost, you can make video calls, send instant messages or Fax using VoIP technology.
  • Integration with applications – VoIP phones can be connected to your computer systems and integrated with any number of other applications. Linking to CRM systems can be effective for logging calls and enabling “click to call” functionality.
  • Cost – Making VoIP to VoIP calls is free, and even calls to other landlines are typically much cheaper. For international call, you will connect via the internet to a local hub in that country, and then only pay local call rates to connect to the fixed telephone line.

What do VoIP Phone benefits enable?

VoIP communications platforms can truly revolutionise the way businesses work, It can be particularly good for:

      • Mobile workforce – The portability of VoIP means that you can effectively take your number with you when you are travelling, allowing you to make and receive calls from the same number as if you were at home.
      • Multinational organisations – Global organisations with offices spread out across the world can dramatically reduce the cost of these various office communicating by making sure they are call set up with VoIP telephony. In this scenario calls would be free as they are VoIP to VoIP
      • Collaborative teams –Collaborative teams spread out over a few different locations can make use of the different forms of communication that come as standard with many VoIP platforms, for example video calls, or the ease of sharing files via instant messenger.

Hosted VoIP

Any business or team that has high call volumes benefits from VoIP and its capability to easily integrate with other applications. Hosted VoIP systems easily allow you to monitor statistics like call volumes, lengths etc. so you can analyse the performance of your teams. You can also include features like automatically logging calls on client records.

Installing a VoIP telephony system could revolutionise the way your business communicates, while reducing your costs at the same time. If you’re thinking about an upgrade, make sure you bear VoIP in mind.

If you would like to know more about VoIP for business just contact us or give us a call on 0844 770 0199 for a no obligation review of your current arrangements

Cloudscape IT – IT Support Company London

Moving Office – IT Relocation

IT Relocation Checklist

The Internet has brought innumerable benefits in the last 15-20 years, but with that has come added complexity to the systems that make everything possible. In the background of every email or file transfer you execute at work is a whole ecosystem of IT infrastructure.

So if you are moving office, it’s important you plan the relocation of your IT network with care.

Office IT Relocation Checklist

Beyond the obvious goal of needing to move your entire IT infrastructure from one building to another. Your ultimate goal is to minimize the downtime your office experiences as a result of the move. There are numerous office relocation checklists out there to help you prepare for the move. We are going to focus on some of the major pitfalls of moving office and how you can mitigate them.

  1. Warn your provider – Contact all technology vendors, internet service providers and carriers well before you make your move. These are your acting partners in your IT relocation, so you want them to be part of the planning process. Two months is the minimum amount of warning you should give.
  2. Upgrade your technology – Moving office is great opportunity to evaluate your entire IT infrastructure and determine what should be upgraded. Every item you choose to upgrade won’t need to be moved. Upgrades can be up and running well before you move offices. Similarly, if you are leasing any items, you can use this as a chance to upgrade and move the replacement items into your new offices early.
  3. Determine communications requirements – Each site has varying capabilities and characteristics, so it is important you determine your exact needs when it comes to data cabling, phone lines, and Internet and power outlets well before you move in. It could turn out the entire building is in need of an upgrade to meet your specifications. Infrastructure upgrades must be planned early on in the process.
  4. Do a walk-through – By planning far ahead of time and knowing where each item in your IT network will be located in your new office, you can start to cover the smaller details and problems as well. Your vendors should walk through the new office with you, since they will have more experience in spotting the smaller potential problems.
  5. Protect your data – This has become a huge industry recently, and for good reason. Your data is important to the running of your business and quality of your service. You need secure backups in case anything goes awry in the move.

 

Hopefully your office relocation won’t seem so daunting.

It’s important to remember whether you have dedicated IT department or a managed IT support provider. You aren’t in this alone and there will likely be some sort of a tenant advisory package available to you.

If you plan everything ahead and stress-test your assumptions, you’ll be able to execute your IT relocation in a time efficient and cost effective manner.

Office IT relocation can be an extremely demanding. We can take the stress and strain out of this; call us for more information on complete IT relocation and Telecoms relocation service.

Contact Us: 0844 770 0199