Theme: Vendor Management

What is Backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service and What Do Cybersecurity Providers Offer?

white room with stacks of computer servers and wires

In our last blog post, we noted that ransomware attacks have increased 300% since last year and experts continue to expect them to grow. This week, we learned that hackers hit Kaseya, a software that MSPs use to monitor their clients. Kaseya manages technology services for companies that are too small to have their own IT departments. As many as 1500 businesses across the globe have been impacted by the hack– from grocery stores in Sweden to schools in New Zealand. 

At Profitcomm, we know that these types of hacks are going to continue happening. One, because many companies don’t have adequate protection set up and two, because companies are continuing to pay hackers ransoms. Backup and disaster recovery providers can help you make a plan for when a cybersecurity attack happens, regularly back up your data so hackers don’t have anything to hold for ransom, and recover your data. 

Using our RFP Alternative [link] process, we can help you figure out which provider best suits your needs and budget. For example, a financial services firm has very different needs for backup and disaster recovery than a nonprofit (although piece of mind and reputation are important no matter your industry or service). 

What is Backup as A Service?

Backup as a Service (BUaaS) uses public, private, or hybrid cloud to regularly back up your data on outside servers. This means that you don’t have to worry about manual back ups or where the information is stored. BUaaS (like anything as a Service) can vary from $ to $$$, if we use the Zagat rating system. A less expensive back up plan might not back up as regularly, and a high-priced plan might offer back ups every hour, for example. 

What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) allows businesses to not just back up their data, but recover that data when a disaster occurs. This might be a natural disaster (like a flood), but more recently, hacks and cybersecurity attacks have been the disasters that businesses need to recover from. DRaaS gets your data back and systems up-and-running as soon as possible after a disaster. 

How do you develop a backup and disaster recovery plan? 

The cybersecurity framework is based on a five-step process. This process allows you to protect your data, and recover it when needed. Providers will: 

  • Identify: Create a gameplan by establishing your risk tolerance, understanding your budget, and figuring out what where your vulnerability points are.
  • Protect: Secure things coming into your organization and looking inside the organization and protecting people and systems from doing bad things.
  • Detect:  Discover threats to critical assets through monitoring, AI, and security management.
  • Respond: Contain and remove any threats– whether that is taking out a compromised server or removing corrupted software.
  • Recover: While the first four parts generally fall under backup, this step is disaster recovery. Here, you are able to return to business as usual by recovering whatever data has been lost. 

We offer independent engineering resources that can help you develop a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that incorporates all parts of the process. In reality, many vendors offer many different types of cybersecurity options. We help you figure out what you need so you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Here are 8 of the many providers we work with who offer back up as a service and disaster recovery as a service. 

CenturyLink / Lumen

Lumen offers a “Simple Backup Service” that allows you to point-and-click and create backup policies that meet your requirements, then apply them to servers in the Lumen Cloud. The Lumen Managed Disaster Recovery Services (MDRS) engineering team manages failover services and carries out regular testing, audits, and runbook development to ensure reliability and accuracy. 

Green House Data 

Green House Data’s DRaaS product is a VM-level disaster recovery solution that integrates with VMware vCenter and Microsoft Hyper-V, and supports Azure and AWS. They say that their BUaaS helps companies reduce backup windows by up to 90%, take advantage of single-step recovery, decrease network bandwidth usage by deduplicating data before transfer, add or remove backup capacity on demand, and set their own backup policy.

IBM

With their multicloud resilience, IBM offers a DRaaS plan that includes streamlined, speedy recovery, optimized resiliency, and a data-driven service environment. IBM’s Backup as a Service protects your data while allowing you to scale up or down as needed, and you can manage and access backups daily. 

Rapid Scale

Rapid Scale’s Backup as a Service offers you the ability to store data on site, colocated, or at a data center, with pay-as-you-go pricing and managed off-site infrastructure. They can backup in real time or at a time that suits your business best. Their Disaster Recovery as a Service options can work with your needed compliance, provides continuity of support, and tests annually. They are also responsible for management and only select Tier 3 Data Centers. 

RackSpace

RackSpace’s DRaaS offers a variety of options for customers, including premium, fully-featured disaster recovery, advance, and basic options. Their managed backup solutions are exactly that, fully managed and offer a variety of benefits. 

Steadfast

Steadfast’s Disaster Recovery plans come in many shapes and sizes, and offer a comprehensive plan to not just backup data, but get your systems back up and running. Their backup plans are also offered in a variety of bundles, all proactively monitored to keep them secure. 

Tierpoint

Tierpoint’s BUaaS is fully managed, but offer a self-service option that allows you to interact directly with the service. This means you can self-manage backup schedules, include or exclude files from the backup, and perform on-demand backups as needed. Tierpoint’s Disaster Recovery services are customizable, with services including cloud-to-cloud backups, server-to-cloud recovery, Azure site recovery, and business continuity workspaces. 

QTS

QTS’s managed backup solutions are hosted on their private cloud servers. This allows customers the benefit of only monthly costs and no upfront capital investment. 

Contact us today to find out which disaster recovery and backup technology provider matches your company’s needs and protect your business from cyberattacks today. 

Why Every Business Needs a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

White man with headphones sitting in the dark looking at a computer screen with code text on it.

If you’ve been paying attention to any telecom and IT news lately, you’ll have seen that there have been a lot of ransomware attacks. Even if you weren’t paying attention, you probably felt the impact of the Colonial Pipeline at the pump as gas prices jumped. Ransomware attacks have grown (over a 300% increase last year, according to some estimates), and experts continue to expect them to grow. In this environment, keeping your data securely backed up and making a plan for recovery is incredibly important. Here are three reasons why every business needs a backup and disaster recovery plan. 

Backup and disaster recovery planning helps protect your business. 

The plan of a hacker is simple: get into your system and lock you out. Then, demand a ransom so you can get back in. This usually comes in different types of attacks: ransomware, phishing, malware, and denial-of-service.

A hack can compromise your employee or client data and stop your business from running properly. Having security software can reduce the risk of bad actors getting in. However, there’s usually some human error when a ransomware attack occurs. Backing up your data at a regular frequency and having a plan for rebuilding your system means not losing data and keeps your business running. 

A ransomware attack isn’t rare. 

According to a recent report by global cybersecurity company Acronis, almost a third of companies are attacked by cybercriminals at least once a day. More than 1,000 companies had data leaked as a result of ransomware attacks. As workforces continue to be remote (and often less secure than working in an office), Acronis expects ransomware and hacking attacks to continue. They also expect more phishing and hacking of small to mid-sized businesses. Although these businesses aren’t necessarily as lucrative as something like Colonial Pipeline, they are not ready for a serious attack but can probably pay a small ransom. And, if they hit you once and get a payout, then they know they can hit you again. 

It’s cheaper to prepare than pay the criminals. 

Colonial Pipeline’s CEO admitted that the company paid the hackers a $4.4 million ransom to get their operation back up and running. CNA Financial Corp paid $40 million to regain control of their network after hackers locked them out. Backup and disaster recovery plans can always be modified to suit your company’s specific needs. For example, if you are a critical infrastructure company or a financial corporation, you need to be backing up constantly. However, even smaller businesses and nonprofits have customer and donor information. Planning and preparation are cheaper (and less stressful) than figuring out if you want to pay a ransom. And everyone (no matter how big or small, or what industry you are in) loses customer confidence after an attack. 

In 2019, the Teamsters Union refused to pay a ransom when their computer system was locked by hackers. Instead, they rebuilt their computer system from a backup (including backups on a hard drive). These backups saved the day. “Personal information for the millions of active and retired members was never compromised,” according to NBC News. 

A data breach can significantly impact operations and trust. Setting up a good cybersecurity plan as well as a backup and disaster recovery plan means that you can get your business back to normal as soon as possible.   

Contact us today to find out more about disaster and recovery planning, and protecting your data and your reputation.

STIR/ SHAKEN Combats Robocalls with Caller ID Verification

How many times a day do you ignore your phone because you don’t recognize the number? Or, are you tempted to answer because the call looks like it is local? Either way, we all hate answering only to hear an automated robocall about a car warranty or insurance. Unfortunately, consumers in the U.S. get around 4 billion robocalls a month. In June 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be implementing new standards called STIR/ SHAKEN so that consumers can have faith that the number calling is actually who they say they are. So what is STIR/ SHAKEN, and how will it impact telecommunications and IT? Here are 3 things to know about the new standards.

Spoofed calls have long been a problem.

We’ve long recognized that robocalls with spoofed called IDs were a major problem in the telecom industry. A spoofed call happens when a caller disguises their number and usually replaces it with a local number to gain the consumer’s trust and potentially steal information. Let’s be honest–these calls are also incredibly obnoxious and lead businesses and customers to lose trust in phone calls. Thankfully, Congress passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act in 2019 and mandated the implementation of the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens (SHAKEN) standards. The creative name was inspired by Ian Fleming’s character James Bond for his distinct preparation instructions for his favorite adult beverage.

STIR/ SHAKEN will validate numbers.

STIR and SHAKEN are tools that prevent illegal calls and ensure the security of the calling number. A STIR/SHAKEN solution involves a series of protocols to ensure a caller ID has not been spoofed. It works as a simple two-step verification process. First, the originating telephone service provider authenticates the call and sends a digitally signed identity token. Then, the terminating service provider verifies the signature and token and, if successfully verified, informs their subscriber that this is a verified call. Providers will need to implement STIR/ SHAKEN protocols by June 30, 2021.

There may be some complications around implementation.

Although STIR/ SHAKEN is great news for consumers, some companies might be experiencing headaches as the protocols get implemented. For one, if the originating provider has already implemented the new protocols, but the terminating provider has not, calls might be dropped. Furthermore, STIR/ SHAKEN is only operational on Internet Provider (IP) networks. This means that if a provider uses a network other than IP, they will have to take steps to make sure consumers have the same protections. This might mean upgrading to IP or developing a phone number verification on non-IP networks.

Once implemented, we will hopefully answer our phones again and know that the person on the other end is who they say they are. While it still doesn’t guarantee that the end-user will actually take your call, at least your car warranty worries will be a thing of the past.

ProfitComm Completes Four Avant Trusted Advisor Certifications

Earlier this month, Denis O’Donovan and Heather Vereecken completed the first four Avant Trusted Advisor™ certification courses. Avant’s goal as a company is to help customers understand communications technology and find one that meets their needs. They also know you can’t do this alone. They developed these certifications so you, as the customer, know you have someone who can help you navigate the confusion in the market, with rapid changes in IT and technology changes.

Understanding Rapidly Changing Technologies

Avant purposefully designed these courses so that Trusted Advisors,™ like Denis, have a comprehensive understanding of the features, differentiators, value propositions, and the competitive landscape of each service type and the vendors that supply those services. Direct vendor employees are trained only to know one company’s products and services. As vendor management experts and a Trusted Advisor™, we know how to listen to your needs and guide you through a multi-vendor evaluation process.

Guiding You Through the Decision-Making Process

At ProfitComm, the Trusted Advisor™ certification is building on over two decades of industry experience. In addition, we use a unique blend of the Pathfinder IT decision-making platform developed by Avant, industry-leading engineering resources, a proven vendor engagement process, and a customer-facing deliverable. We call this the RFP Alternative. The RFP Alternative process is designed to save customers tremendous amounts of time, money, and headaches compared to traditional RFPs, where a customer has to manage not only the proposal but also needs knowledge of their needs and the current state of technologies offered.

Better Serving Technology Customers

In addition to the Avant Trusted Advisor Certifications, Denis is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business alumni for the course he completed in 2019 in Baltimore. As a technology vendor management expert, Denis views these programs and certifications as valuable training to better serve ProfitComm customers and partners in the ever-changing technology vendor landscape.

To find out more about the RFP Alternative process or what technologies might be right for your business, contact us today.

4 Ways Contact Center as a Service Makes Your Customers Happy

Some of us (myself included) are old enough to remember the days of waiting on hold for 45 minutes to get a call center agent to dispute a $4.99 charge on a phone bill. Luckily that’s not a thing anymore–or at least it shouldn’t be a thing anymore. With Contact Center technologies, you can reach your customers or prospective customers across any medium the way they want to reach you. Chat, SMS, e-mail, phone, social media are all part of the omnichannel experience to meet each customer’s unique communication style and be more efficient. Here are 4 ways Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) makes your customers happy.

Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Everybody is different, and what works from one person might not work best for somewhere else. With CCaaS, customers can call if they want to speak to a representative, they can email if their issue isn’t urgent or web chat if they don’t want to call. The more options that we offer our customers, the more likely they are to communicate with us in a way that feels easy and helpful.

Use Technology to Make Finding Information Easier

The AI technologies that CCaaS offers today can make finding the right information easier for your customers. For example, someone might have a question that is in the FAQ section of your website. But, they have to scroll and search, and maybe they can’t find it easily. With ChatBots, a customer can get any number of questions answered in minutes instead of scrolling through website pages or sitting on holds. In addition, if the bot can’t answer a question, then the customer can be connected with a customer service representative.

Lower the Wait Times for Your Customers

The only thing worse than someone not being able to answer your question is sitting on hold forever. With CCaaS technologies, a customer service rep can answer emails, respond to social media messages, message via a chat, and be on the phone. This means that as customers choose which type of communication suits them best, they also have an agent who can be attentive to them faster.

Improve Quality Control

Technologies like data dip into ordering systems, screen pops, custom chat/e-mail/SMS templates, and time-stamped omnichannel interactions allow customer service representatives to be better informed and improve the customer experience. For example, timestamps mean that if a new rep has to take over a chat, they can pick up exactly where the other rep left off, leaving the customer with a seamless experience. Some AI technologies can measure keywords or voice inflection, allowing unhappy customers to get routed to more senior reps, who have the skill to shift the interaction to a more positive outcome. Quality management services and customer surveys also allow your customers to help you improve the customer experience.

At the end of the day, happy customers buy more of your stuff and tell other people how happy you make them. To find out more about CCaaS, contact us today, or take our CCaaS quiz to find out which technology is right for you.

3 Options for MS Teams and 10 Providers Who Offer Managed Direct Routing Capabilities

In April, we shared 5 things to know about MS Teams and how they can integrate with your new or existing communications technology. While MS Teams works great as an internal communication tool, it isn’t ideal for communicating with people outside of your office.

In order to use MS Teams outside of your own office, you can do one of 3 things.

The first way is to buy a calling plan directly from Microsoft, but it has many limitations. It usually isn’t the most cost-effective option since you have to pay additional licensing costs based on users and where you want to make calls. Also, Teams-enabled phones tend to be more expensive than traditional VOIP hard phones and are not compatible with any other hosted VOIP solution. That means that if you purchase these phones to use with MS Teams and then want to switch to another hosted VOIP vendor, you have to buy new phones.

The second way is to set up direct routing, which means you have to buy hardware and enough SIP trunks (or IP call sessions) for the number of calls you expect to be making. It is the customer’s responsibility to set up and manage number porting, changing their phone numbers from the old provider to Microsoft. Direct routing also doesn’t give you redundancy that protects your phones from going down. In both of these first options, there is a lot of DIY, and the burden of managing it falls on you (the quick start guide to MS Teams is 2,620 pages long alone….).

The third way is to engage a VOIP or UCaas vendor who has everything bundled. This is often the best and most cost-effective option for businesses. With a managed direct routing provider, you get a true phone vendor experience with the feature functionality of Teams. The vendor can give you all the integration to Teams but has all of the telephony features that we are now used to, providing a seamless Teams experience. With this option, you only pay per seat. Additionally, you get the redundancies from working with a VOIP and/or UCaas vendor.

Here are 10 great vendors who offer MS Teams integration with managed direct routing capabilities.

Simplicity VOIP

While MS Teams lacks in some features, “when combined with a VoIP, PBX, and Unified Communications service provider such as Simplicity VoIP, you can integrate missing features seamlessly into the Microsoft Teams platform that your company already uses,” says Amy Humphreys, VP of Marketing at Simplicity.  This integration between MS Teams and VOIP allows you to use apps, make calls, and route calls through the MS Teams interface.

Call Tower

“We are one of Microsoft’s first direct-routing partners, so we have a lot of experience when it comes to Teams. We also have a fourth UCaas solution which we call CT Voice, powered by our Meta-Switch. We also offer three different contact center solutions, including FiveNine, TelEx, and Clarity Connect,” said Rafael Renteria, Channel Sales Director – Midwest at CallTower, during the Avant Special Forces Summit last year. CallTower is a Microsoft Gold Partner committed to providing the highest quality user experience through their managed MS Teams integrations.

SimplicityVOIP

Mitel

“Mitel is a channel-first model. We are built on the Google Cloud to lower disruptions and keep the clock spinning. We try to innovate anywhere we can, and we have canned integrations, and that’s where our new Microsoft Teams integration is coming from. We like to offer a lot of solution choices including UCaas, CCaas, video conferencing, and integrate that is based on your needs,” said Dan Nemechek, VP Sales Engineering – Americas for Mitel. They offer direct routing, web extensions directly from a router and a third-party solution that integrates the phone system with Office 365.

LogMeIn/ GoToMeeting

“GoToConnect is our full UCC Stacked born-in-the cloud single stream call control. What that means is we have full control of the stack. That call control is US specific and distributed over seven data centers over the US network, fully meshed. We have two options, our back-end dialer and our direct-routing option to get the true, native Teams experience,” says Mike DesJardins, Solutions Consultant at LogMeIn. LogMeIn and GoToMeeting’s integration with MS Teams allows users to not only call using MS Teams but organize meetings with up to 250 people.

CommandLink 

CommandLink offers “UCaaS, CCaaS, SD-WAN, Security, Managed Services, Professional Services, and a proprietary SaaS Platform for SMB, Mid-Market, and Enterprise businesses.” Their UCaaS platform is based on MetaSwitch, which Microsoft acquired. MetaSwitch’s direct routing allows MS Teams callers to use the public switch telephone network (PSTN), integrating Teams directly into the regular telephone network.

Vonage

Vonage’s MS Teams integration goes beyond just voice. You don’t have to leave the Teams interface to make phone calls, send text messages, and multimedia messages. In addition, Vonage allows you to keep your current phone system, maintaining phone numbers and equipment.

Masergy

Not limited to the United States, Masergy MS Teams integration offers users calling in 25 countries. Rather than a cost-per-user, Masergy offers a “pay-for-what-you-use” calling plan. Their fully-managed plan also provides companies with performance monitoring and real-time analytics.

RingCentral 

RingCentral integrates the phone system with their software and MS Teams. This allows users to make outbound calls and start RingCentral video calls.

CBS

Last year, cbts integrated their Cisco-Broadworks powered voice solution with MS Teams. “Using Microsoft Direct Route as a bridge, this powerful integration unifies Microsoft Teams with the robust public branch exchange (PBX) features, flexibility, and reliability offered by CBTS,” they wrote when announcing the tech. In addition, this offers users various functionalities, including e-911, API integrations, mass notifications, contact centers, and more.

8×8

“8×8 is a global, award-winning platform solution for single unified service, communication center as a service (UCaas), and communication platform as a service… We have the ability to integrate several solutions as well as provide the analytics that drives customer behavior, intelligent decision-making, and customer experience,” said Jamaal Savwoir, Director and Sales Engineer at 8×8. With their voice integration, offices that use MS Teams can receive and make calls worldwide with the native Teams dialer.

These providers integrate their technology with MS Teams for a seamless experience. If you are interested in making your phone technology work with MS Teams, contact us today and find out which MS Teams integration is right for your business.

How A Phone Shortage Might Impact Your Telecom Services

If you haven’t heard by now, we hate to tell you: a shortage of many technology solutions is on its way. This includes a shortage of physical phone handsets, which could impact your organization’s planned migration to new hosted VOIP or hosted Contact Center solutions.

A global phone shortage changes the VOIP landscape.

At the end of 2020, Reuters reported that chips used in everything from cellphones to laptops to smart fridges are experiencing a global shortage. This adds to a perfect storm of factors making VOIP handsets and physical phone handsets really scarce. First, manufacturing plant shutdowns during the pandemic slowed the production of new products, especially ones that are made or partially made in China. Then, many companies started adopting cloud-hosted VOIP solutions to help accommodate working from home during the pandemic. This meant a higher demand in hardware such as VOIP handsets. Finally, major shipping delays caused by the Suez Canal incident  (delays which are still happening) means that products and materials are not getting into the supply chain like normal.

Inventories are lean and can change week to week and, just like home exercise equipment in 2020, online retailers are selling those devices for significantly higher prices than the hardware is worth.

So should you scrap a planned VOIP/Contact Center migration? Absolutely not.

If you’ve already started planning a hosted VOIP or Contact Center migration, you don’t need to change your plans. Here are three tips to help you navigate this change in phone availability:

1. Don’t just assume the model you want will be available.

Make sure to have discussions with vendor representative who has direct visibility into inventory (not just a sales representative). Items on backorder can delay the deployment. This can especially impact your business if you were planning the migration as part of an office relocation on a specific date.

2. Be open to seeing all options.

There are many hosted VOIP/Contact Center solution providers out there and virtually all have multiple hardware options that have been certified on their platforms. You may just realize that another platform or brand that you were not considering may offer you different options that can better suit your specific business needs.

3. Think about other collaboration tools.

If the Zoom/Teams pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are many ways to collaborate other than talking on a physical desk phone. Softphones, mobile apps, and collaboration integrations like Microsoft Teams for hosted VOIP/Contact Centers have improved tremendously and have become standards in the multi-device collaboration ecosystem.

It’s said that knowledge is power and knowing the options can help you make educated decisions for your business. ProfitComm’s portfolio of over 50 hosted VOIP/Contact Center vendors and our unique RFP Alternative vendor evaluation process can help lead your business down the right path. Contact us for more information today about hosted VOIP and hosted Contact Center solutions.

5 Things to Know about Hosted VOIP/UCaas Microsoft Teams Integration

In the spring of last year, we got many calls at ProfitComm about setting up a remote workforce. As office spaces shut down, companies needed to set up employees in a work-from-home environment. People needed to be able to take calls from home, as well as communicate with their staff. Some companies had already been using Microsoft Teams for collaboration. MS Teams integrations with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) or Voice Over IP (VOIP) can help businesses with their communications needs. However, figuring out what services MS Teams offers–and what those services cost– can still be complicated. Here are some things to know about hosted VOIP/UCaas integrations and Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams offers Voice Solutions

Teams launched in 2017, and Microsoft wants it to be an efficient collaboration tool that might even replace other forms of office communication, including email. Using Microsoft Teams, employees and collaborators have the ability to chat internally, use video conferencing software, have voice calls, and share Microsoft Office documents using SharePoint. However, if you don’t have an Office365 subscription, these services are not free.

MS Teams does offer VOIP between MS Teams clients. This includes features such as call answering, call forwarding, and hold, like any VOIP service. However, missing from teams are e911 management, faxing, caller ID, advance call routing, hunt groups, call recording, enhanced contact center features, intercom, and paging.

MS Teams UCaaS Integration

Microsoft Teams is best used as an internal communication tool. Calling, messaging, and video conferencing between team members is easy, and with the Office365 subscription, cost-effective. However, if you want to use MS Team’s VOIP for external calls, you need a UCaas integration. While VOIP is just a cloud telephone service, UCaas is an integrated communication service over the cloud that includes messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls. A UCaas platform allows Microsoft Teams users to use Teams both within the workplace or office and make external calls.

Managed UCaas vs. MS Teams

As many Microsoft users know, they don’t offer managed services where you can talk to customer service or technical support person whenever you need to. Getting a managed UCaas service allows you to have access to support all day, every day.

Before You Use Teams, Consider What You Have

One of the biggest issues that companies looking for technology solutions against is what technology and services they actually need. Microsoft Teams launched to compete with Slack, and they added video conferencing as an alternative to Zoom. In the case of VOIP and UCaas integrations with MS Teams, you should first consider what services you have (in terms of phone, chatting, and video conferencing), which of those work well, and what additional technology you might need.

There are three ways to get MS Teams.

There are three ways to get started with MS Teams, but two require a heavy lift on the client’s end. You basically have to be your own support and IT team, and even buy equipment to make it work right. The third way is the one that most people think is the best. It offers the support that you are used to with a phone system. In the end, it provides the best of both worlds. It offers collaboration tools and the advanced features of UCaas/ CCaas providers that you can’t get directly from Microsoft.

Using our RFP Alternative process, ProfitComm can help you discover those needs and find you, vendors that meet your criteria, whether hosted VOIP, UCaas, or managed IT solutions. Take our quiz to see if MS Teams is the right technology for your business. Our next blog post will explore some of the vendors offering MS Teams integrations and their benefits.

7 Ways to Help Secure Your Information

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just upended our social lives and the way we work, but the way we transfer information. Instead of just going to your accountant’s office to sign papers, they might send you documents electronically. You might send information to coworkers over email. Data breaches have become their own pandemic. This means that many people are looking for ways to secure their email and transfer information securely. Here are 7 ways you can increase your information security.

Use Strong Passwords

The easiest way to secure your email, your bank account, and everything in between is to use strong passwords. Password is not a strong password, and neither is Password1. Choose something with a combination of upper- and lowercase, numbers, and symbols. Then, keep track of your passwords.

Use a VPN

A VPN routes your IP address through different servers, hiding your location and personal IP address. A VPN is an inexpensive way to hide your IP address to would-be bad guys looking to steal your information. It also keeps your internet service provider from selling your information, like your search history, to advertisers.

Encrypt Your Email and Data

Encrypting your email and/ or your data means that you are coding a message that only the correct recipient can solve. Many professionals who rely on the secure transfer of information– like accountants, financial advisors, or lawyers– will need a secure email provider. This will automatically encrypt email and any data sent over email. Individuals can also encrypt their email, whether they use a service like Gmail or Outlook. With encrypted emails, a hacker cannot read or retrieve secure information.

Beware of Unsecured WiFi

Let’s be real: most of us are working from home on our home networks right now. But now that the weather is getting nicer, we might venture out and sit outside at a coffee shop to get a little new scenery. While it’s nice that a place might offer free WiFi, these networks usually don’t have a lot of security. This means they offer the perfect opportunity for someone to steal your information. Consider setting up a hotspot from your phone or getting your own hotspot if you will be working away from a secured WiFi network often, or set up your VPN.

Have Secured Networks at Home and Work

If you are a business owner, you should make sure that any of the networks you have in the office are secured. If you transfer information between remote servers and office computers or employees at home and servers at the office, you have a secure connection. Many providers offer different levels of security for different types of data. A VPN can also help you keep your network at home secure.

Use a Multi-Factor Authentication

Having to remember your password and then get a code sent to your phone to log in to a website might feel cumbersome, but it helps protect your information and prove you are who you say you are. When working from home or logging into a website where you will share secure information, MFA protects you and your information.

Increase Your Cyber Awareness

Knowing what is happening in the world of cyber-attacks helps increase your cyber awareness. Phishing scams– or when an email that looks legitimate asks you for a password or other personal information in hopes of hacking your email and larger organization– are common. Just knowing that this is a way someone might steal your information.

The bad guys are getting very good at making emails and websites look real. If the email and the website don’t match (you can check by hovering over the email address), do not click anything. If it is an email you have received at work, contact your IT administrators immediately– but do not forward the email. Don’t forget about other forms of communication. If you receive a suspicious email, you can also call the purported sender on the phone to see if they actually sent the email.

Contact us today to find out more about how your company can secure information, encrypt data, increase company cyber awareness and keep employee and client information safe from data breaches.

Top 4 Considerations for Your Business’s Bandwidth Usage

Bandwidth, like most technology solutions, is not one-size-fits-all. Most companies need to evaluate what they use bandwidth to figure out how much bandwidth they need. A single circuit mentality is a thing of the past when so many applications require access to the cloud. You need to be considering redundant bandwidth and shifts in network technology such as SD-WAN. Here are the top 4 considerations you should keep in mind when figuring out your business’s bandwidth needs.

Who uses the network?

Bandwidth is like a highway: data packets are like cars, and if you have more cars or more data, you need a bigger road or more bandwidth for traffic to flow. When thinking about the bandwidth your company needs, consider how many people access the network, whether they are in an office or work remotely, what sort of information is being shared, and whether any non-employees use the network. For example, if most of your employees are remote and sharing secure information, you will likely need more bandwidth on the WAN side rather than the LAN.

What are the users accessing?

Today, the cloud is everything. We use VOIP for our phones, Microsoft 365 for document sharing, and cloud-based applications for customer support. Accessing data on the cloud also requires more bandwidth. Many companies today are also relying on video conferencing to meet and communicate with their teams. Video requires a lot of bandwidth, including upload speeds rather than download. Considering not only who uses the connections but what they use them for is vital for figuring your bandwidth needs.

How fast do you really need it to be?

If we use the traffic analogy, sometimes it is OK if you are stuck in a slow patch. But if you are an ambulance responding to an emergency, it’s not. Similarly, different businesses have utilization and latency needs. Basically, if a slowdown can lose your businesses or cause damage to your work, that is an important factor when considering how much bandwidth your company needs. A little bit of extra speed can save you from losing revenue.

What type of bandwidth do you need?

Video and voice require real-time bandwidth, and latency, jitter, and packet loss will cause you poor video performance. For example, if you send an email next door, it doesn’t matter if it lags a couple of sends. Packets are like cars on the internet highway, and like a meeting, everyone needs to show up at the same time. So if you are on a video call, all the packets have to line up perfectly, or you will have poor performance, with lags and delays.

It’s also important to make sure that all of your cars are not taking the same highway– this can cause a traffic jam or, worse, no information can get through if there’s a roadblock. If you only have one internet connection and it is down for some reason, you are done. It’s better when your circuits take different paths and have redundant bandwidth and have two circuits for your core network, last mile, and central offices. When the circuits don’t hit the same spot until they get to your computer, there will never be a single point of failure, and you are always connected.

ProfitComm offers the best options for independently sourcing those options from over 100 vendors nationwide and a proven 20+ year track record. We have a Fiber Locator Tool, which shows every lit building and route in the US, bidding, evaluating SD-WAN performance, engineering resources for network design and performance, and providing a single point of contact for improved support. Contact us today to find out more about how to find the right bandwidth provider.