You may have seen recent news stories about Google accounts being hacked. The terrible thing about that sentence is that it can be said at any time and be true. Google accounts are always being hacked. The same is true for Facebook, Twitter, Apple, your credit card, and any other online service. So you always need to ask yourself: ‘Who has access to your email account?’ Hopefully it’s only you. When it comes to your security, email is by far your most important account. If a someone else has access to your email they can give you a very bad day. This “hacker” may contact everyone you know with spam or attempt to steal their identity. They could even possibly get access to your other online accounts. Consider that your bank or credit card or Facebook passwords get reset, they send you an email. Now your day gets worse.
If you’ve been the victim of such an attack, stop reading this. Google offers instructions for reacting to a compromised account. Yahoo and Microsoft offer something similar. Once your account is back under your control, change the passwords for any account that uses your email address as a login or that contacts you via email. With your email address, the attacker can reset your other passwords.
And I recommend setting up “multi-factor authentication”. Google calls it “2-step verification”. The idea is that to log in, you need your password as well as a second way to identify yourself. For example, Google will text you a short code every time you try to log in. So in order for someone to break into your account, they need your password and your phone.
But how do attackers get into your account in the first place? Sometimes it’s malware on your computer. “Keyloggers” can record every button press on your keyboard. So be sure you always have the latest operating system updates and run regular anti-malware scans. Or they break into other accounts that aren’t protected as well. Life Pro Tips: Never use the same password for more than one account. And never reuse passwords.
Businesses faced with aging and inflexible phone systems eventually reach a breaking point where an upgrade is absolutely necessary. Who loves calling a phone technician just to move a phone from one desk to another? Who enjoys having to dial a number and remember a passcode just to listen to your voicemails one at a time like back in the 90s? Do you like troubleshooting which hardware manufacturer to call for support? Not me!
We have thought long and hard about what makes sense for a business looking to upgrade their phone systems. Unless your office has certain specific needs where an on-premise phone system is absolutely necessary, there are very few justifications for purchasing on-premise phone systems.
Here are 11 reasons why Hosted Phones make sense for business:
- Less Hardware. This is by far the best reason to ditch your old phone system. You’re not replacing it, you’re removing it from the equation. Of course there is some hardware required to run the system (handsets on your desk, a dedicated router and switch for phone traffic), but in a Hosted PBX scenario these components are fully managed by the provider, which brings us to number 2.
- Fully Managed. Every part of your phone system is fully managed and supported by the carrier. This means that if any part of it fails, from “soup to nuts” as they say, the carrier takes full responsibility. All you need to do is provide power on-site, and many carriers even provide a UPS as well to ensure some extended up-time during power failures. This means you have one number to call when something goes wrong, which simplifies support enormously.
- One Provider. There are some hosted VoIP providers that allow what is called Bring Your Own Bandwidth (The other BYOB), meaning that the customer is responsible for providing an internet connection so the VoIP phones can connect. This arrangement leads to a lot of finger-pointing when things go wrong. The bandwidth provider (often a local cable or DSL carrier) has no vested interest in making sure your 3rd party phones work well (these 3rd parties are competitors, after all). And the BYOB VoIP provider cannot control the quality of your internet connection. In the end nobody wins, but the customer definitely loses. In a Fully Managed Hosted PBX, the entire system is managed by one carrier. As an MSP providing vendor management for our clients, we like this because it means there is a “single throat to choke” when things go wrong.
- Better Phones. You want the latest features like a back-lit LCD screen, a decent speakerphone, compatibility with modern headsets. But modern phones are not cheap. Even mid-range desk phones can be fairly expensive when purchased outright. Hosted PBX providers allow customers to rent the phones, thereby amortizing cost over the course of the agreement term, and ensuring that phones will be replaced at no additional cost in the event of a hardware fault.
- Voicemail to Email. This is one of the most sought-after features of modern phone systems. On-premise systems require special licensing and custom configurations to achieve this, but most Hosted PBX systems include this at no additional charge.
- Off-site Phones. Today’s business owner is not just doing business from the office. Nowadays the flexibility of working from home is a must. Hosted PBX systems allow users to take their phones off-site, and with a few easy settings changes on the phone itself they can plug into internet at home or a branch office and their phone will behave just as if they never left the office! All call routing rules remain in place, and the user’s location can remain transparent to incoming callers.
- Call Recording. Without expensive call-accounting software and hardware, Hosted PBX easily allows the customer to record incoming and outgoing calls for archival and compliance purposes.
- Receptionist Tools. Receptionists benefit from more flexibility in their phone system. Many Hosted PBX carriers provide software which enables receptionists and assistants to easily manage multiple calls at once, often using a drag-and-drop interface for call transfers.
- Call Center Features. Call Queues are features typically seen only in larger, more sophisticated on-premise phone systems. Because phone system features tend to be grouped with so-called “enterprise” features reserved for more costly systems, a smaller office might not be able to leverage call queues without a larger buy-in. Hosted PBX brings Enterprise-grade Call Center features to small and medium sized businesses, for pennies on the dollar compared to complex on-premise phone systems.
- Take It With You. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to leave the office, knowing that you are reachable by your customers and staff when they need you? What if you could control that call flow easily, and redirect all your calls to a cell phone (without disclosing this to the caller) or to your voicemail. Hosted PBX makes all of this simple.
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership. In many cases, the monthly cost of a Hosted PBX will be about 5-10% of the cost of an on-premise phone system. This can signal to astute decision-makers that it is a good investment to purchase on-premise equipment, to reap that ROI after a year or two. But it is misleading to simply compare the retail price tag of each system. As shown above, there are many indirect and unseen (but not unfelt) costs of owning your own phone system. Our advice: let the experts handle your phones, so you can get back to growing your business.
Business owners today are faced with all sorts of new decisions, but the decision to out-source is not a new. For many business functions it makes sense, regardless of size. Even enterprises are outsourcing core functions such as hiring and IT management, in order to save on cost and complexity.
But when it comes to cloud services, there has been a lot of debate around the internet about the merits and pitfalls of a cloud-based system. We are going to focus on one specific case in this article: email. A business lives or dies by email and phones, and decision-makers often wonder when it makes sense to switch to a hosted solution.
(Exchange 2010, Zimbra, etc.)
- More privacy. You might want to know exactly who has access to your email systems. Rolling your own Exchange or Zimbra server is a sure way to keep tabs on who touches your data.
- More control. Do you need to implement custom SMTP or X500 rules? Do you have complex needs that don’t fit into a hosted package? Then you might need an on-premise system with special configuration.
- Cost of Migration. No migration is free, in dollars or time. In a cash crunch, or during a critical business juncture such as a merger or large client project, the savings of hosted Exchange might not outweigh the cost of migration. Of course, if this is the only reason holding back a business from moving to hosted, then it’s only a matter of time.
(Google for Work or Hosted Exchange)
- No Hardware. This is by far the best reason to go hosted. Getting rid of the hardware layer of your email system removes an enormous amount of complexity (and downtime). No more RAID rebuilds taking your server down for hours. The hardware that used to serve your Email can be re-purposed as a file server or resold on the market to recoup the cost of migration.
- No Software. The nature of hosted applications means that you and your staff are removed from the majority of the configuration. The application layer is presented to you, so you can stop worrying about how it works and start using it.
- Better Value. No matter who your IT provider is, they don’t do Exchange like Microsoft. Nobody can build a system that integrates with Android better than Google. With staff freed from the complexity of managing the infrastructure, they can focus on implementation and training, resulting in more value to the business.
We have seen businesses with as few as 10 staff use an on-premise Exchange Server. Running your own Exchange server can be fun and exciting, and it definitely provides a level of control and privacy that you lose with a hosted solution.
But for most small businesses today, the benefits of owning your own email system are far outweighed by the direct and indirect costs. We anticipate the trend towards hosted email to continue — saving money and greatly reducing downtime for businesses.
Security researchers recently discovered major security holes in three flagship Apple operating systems: iOS (used by iPhone and iPad), OSX (Used by the Mac product line), and AppleTV. These security holes allowed an attacker to gain what is called RCE or Remote Code Execution. This essentially means that a hacker with knowledge of these security holes could easily gain control of any unpatched device.
A second major security hole, the IOSurface vulnerability, was also found to affect all Apple products. The IOSurface libraries are used by Apple devices to share a video rendering buffer, which enables iPhones to project video and photos on an Apple TV for instance.
The FREAK security hole was discovered by a group of researchers which ironically included 3 Microsoft employees. And, also ironically the IOSurface bug was found by Google’s Project Zero.
One of our favorite security blogs, Naked Security, talks more about these vulnerabilities here.
Watch out for any new updates for your Apple devices, and make sure to download and install them immediately.
Google has officially announced the 5.1 release of Android, their mobile operating system. Android currently powers top-selling mobile phones, tablets, and a variety of set top boxes and “net tops”.
Apparently, this update will do more than fix bugs. We will see the inclusion of Multi SIM card support, and HD Voice in this new phone OS.
Another interesting new feature named Device Protection will be wrapped in as well. This feature will allow phone and tablet owners to track and remotely disable their mobile devices in the event they are stolen or misplaced. This new capability goes deeper than current Anti-Theft apps like Lookout, Cerberus, and Prey. Device Protection will actually allow you to remotely lock your device even if a thief performs a Factory Reset.
Last but not least, Google VPN is an exciting feature that will give Android users a way to communicate privately even when using public unencrypted WiFi networks. Previously, Android users had to use a third party app for this functionality, but with Android 5.1 Google plans to include this feature with the OS.
We look forward to these updates, and will follow the release of new Android 5.1 devices as they are released.
Source: Official Android Blog
If you use Gmail or
Google Apps Google for Work and have an iPhone, while it can be made to integrate reasonably well, it just doesn’t compare to the level of integration and Single Sign On capabilities of an Android phone. Likewise, if you love iTunes, buy a lot of content in the Apple ecosystem, or love the iOS experience or the devices that run them, but you are currently stuck with an Android phone, then one of these guides is for you.
Here are two great guides from Lifehacker to help you make the switch as painless as possible.
Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone: A Switcher’s Guide
Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher’s Guide