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Heartbleed Bug

HeartbleedAs we’re sure you are all aware, a very serious threat has arisen throughout various sites on the Internet dubbed by technical experts as “The Heartbleed Bug.” The vulnerability was discovered this past Monday night. It exploits flaws in an open-source software known as OpenSSL typically utilized to encrypt web site traffic and used by the majority of web sites across the globe. This very dangerous threat will gather personal information such as usernames, passwords, email addresses, credit card information and other various personal data without your, or the site’s knowledge.

Until such time you can be certain the sites you do business with or conduct personal matters on (including Internet email) is protected, we strongly encourage you to refrain from logging into any such site. Once you have determined the particular site you need to visit is safe, we would advise you to change your credentials immediately.

Here are some useful links from CNet.com that will help you understand this threat a little better along with some tools to help you determine if your sites are safe:

Other ways to ensure you are protected – Click Here
Popular site status – Click Here
A tool to check any particular site – <a href=”https://lastpass click reference.com/heartbleed/” target=”_new”>Click Here

Again, even if a site a site you visit has been deemed safe, we strongly encourage you to change your passwords immediately.

Thank you for your time and please pass this along to family, friends and business associates to whom you feel this would be of interest.


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How Healthy is your Business Communications Platform

Whether we realize it or not, most of us are conditioned to keeping our cell phone “healthy”. Whether it’s upgrading to the newest, hippest devices, using a protective case, or even keeping up with the latest software upgrades, we all regularly take measures to ensure our cell phone is up to date and continues to work at optimal performance.

Let’s face it; your cell phone is one of the most important devices in your life. It’s no surprise that consumers take so many measures to ensure that they are constantly keeping it up and running. This became even more apparent last week with all of the hype surrounding Apple’s newest software upgrade, iOS7. Consumers are easily intrigued by having the “latest and greatest.” In this case, millions of us became obsessed with a software upgrade that brings a new appearance and a multitasking functionality unlike anything Apple has ever produced before.

However, what many companies don’t realize is that their business communications platform is as important to their company’s success as their cell phone is in their personal lives. Just like cell phones, your business communications platform requires ongoing maintenance and care for both its hardware and software to ensure it continues to run at peak performance while keeping your organization up to date with the latest communication and collaboration technology. While you may have never considered this comparison before, it’s an important thing to realize. Your business communication platform is the lifeline that keeps you connected to your company’s employees, customers, business partners, and vendors.

For this reason, system health checks should be implemented into your technology strategy on an ongoing basis. By identifying the hardware and software that your business is currently using, you can begin to consider some best practices for your system’s health.

The first thing to consider is the hardware maintenance of your business communications platform. Without some sort of maintenance program, how is your business currently dealing with unpredictable outages and surprise costs? For some, dealing with an outage is comparable to an awful nightmare where a technician doesn’t show up for days and then proceeds to charge you outrageous amounts for parts and labor when they do. Luckily, hardware issues don’t have to always be a nightmare.

Just like purchasing insurance for your cell phone, having a hardware maintenance program in place brings a sense of security to you and your business. Good maintenance programs, such as the one that ETA has in place, provide beginning-to-end, ongoing support for your business communications platform.

For on-premise systems, a good maintenance program will provide unlimited help desk support, quick response times, expedited replacement parts, and a knowledgeable technician team all for one low, predictable price. Ongoing daily maintenance for your voice and data systems results in maximized longevity and effectiveness for your business communications platform.

For Cloud-based systems, hardware maintenance works a bit differently, mainly because your server is controlled and maintained at an outside location. While you may not have to support your server in the Cloud-based world, the industry standard is that you still need to purchase maintenance warranties for the phones and other on-premise equipment.

Now that you’ve ensured ongoing maintenance for your hardware, what’s next? You have to find a way to leverage the full capabilities your business communications platform provides. This is only possible by having the most current and up-to-date software upgrades. This might seem obvious, but we’ve found that the majority of businesses are actually not utilizing the latest software updates that are made available to them.

A software upgrade is completed in order to replace existing software with a version that creates a more user-friendly experience, while also fixing glitches that may have existed in previous releases. This can include functionality improvements or efficiency enhancements for applications, such as unified communications, contact center solutions, and teleworking tools. With so many business communication technologies being software-dependent today, it’s important that your business takes the time to understand the capabilities that these new updates may provide.

In the Cloud-based world, software updates are applied to the phone system server by the provider at their discretion. Because Cloud-based systems function on a shared consumption model, meaning one server may be utilized by many different clients, some providers will even remain on older software versions long after new versions have been released to ensure upgrades to not negatively effect masses of customers at once this link. Even after software versions have been updated in the Cloud. Whether or not subscribers actually utilize upgraded software’s new features is completely up to them.

A premise-based system gives the business more control and flexibility in regard to taking advantage of new software releases. In many cases, it’s not that a business doesn’t want to take advantage of upgrades for their system, it’s simply that users are unaware of what’s available to them and also assume that these upgrades have underlying prohibitive costs.

That’s why most providers offer “software maintenance” plans like the Software Assurance program ETA provides for our Mitel on-premise systems. When purchasing software maintenance for your business communications platform in the premise-based world, you do not have to worry about unpredictable costs when it comes to software upgrades. For one low annual fee, software assurance enables you to take advantage of any software upgrades that are offered for your base system within the term of your agreement. By providing customers with life-cycle cost certainty, we have given businesses free reign to leverage the newest technology and functionality as soon as it’s available.

While the Mitel 6.0 upgrade may not be as flashy or sexy as the iOS7 release, it’s just as critical for your voice and data systems. By implementing both hardware maintenance and regular software upgrades as a part of your ongoing system health checks, you’re ensuring that your business communications platform is not only “healthy,” but also being utilized to its full capacity.


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Keep your Business Telephone

business phone In today’s wireless world, mobile phones are playing an ever-increasing role in employees’ professional and personal lives. So much so that some small and medium-sized businesses have given thought to ditching the business phone system in favor of going mobile-only.

But what these organizations will find is that the business phone system is still a critical element of any good company and that the mobile-only approach is not necessarily good for business.

Why do we say this? Because whether or not your business phone system’s greeting is an automated or live attendant, it’s the first thing customers come into contact with when calling your company. You want to ensure that callers have a professional first impression of your organization and can get in touch with or leave a voicemail for the person they’re seeking.

Anything less, such as ending up in someone’s personal voicemail, is unimpressive to callers looking to do business with you and could result in the loss of a potential customer. Not to mention that you can’t share any voicemails left on personal cell phones with others throughout your organization.

This is all aside from the capabilities that any business phone system is able to provide, such as pre-arranged holiday and inclement weather settings, call reporting and advanced unified communications options, like “Find Me Follow Me”.

Whether or not you know it, your business phone system provides you with a well-organized, professional image and necessary capabilities that a mobile-only approach can’t replicate.

Even if your company is a small operation, you still want outside contacts to be able to get in touch with your sales, marketing, operations, service and other departments. (Although two or three of these listed departments might technically be the same person.)

Regardless of the type of phone system you chose, one thing is for sure: the business phone system is still a critical component of any company’s professional operations. So it’s essential that your business has a voice system and knows how to operate it.


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Hurricane Season – Are you Prepared?

hurricane season, hurricane predictionsApril is almost over and June will be here faster than you think! As South Floridians, we all know what that means…. Hurricane Season! You remember, those times when you’re stocking up on batteries, water, non-perishable foods etc… we hope we never see a “big one” but, nonetheless, we all need to be prepared.

Is your business ready in the event of a major storm? Judging from the article recently posted in the Sun Sentinel, it looks as though we could be in for a pretty active season this year. There are many steps you can take to prevent down-time at your business. It really isn’t has difficult as you might think.

To read more about the predictions for this year, surf on over to the Sun Sentinel and read the article for yourself. If you would like to learn more about readying your business for a potential Hurricane and the events that may occur as a result, why not read our article on Disaster Recovery – Business Continuity Planning.

In any case, we hope you are prepared this year and have taken the precautions necessary to maintain both your and your family’s personal safety as well as the business-related issues surrounding protecting your company.


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Toshiba Plug-In for Microsoft Lync

Strata CIX, IPedgeAt Teleco South Florida, we always urge our customers to consider implementing “Unified Messaging” solutions in their business. Relatively easy to setup and deploy, this is an excellent means of improving on and streamlining communications throughout your company. Imagine having the ability to read (or listen to) any messages you may receive via email, voicemail and even fax on your cellphone or while sitting at your computer. Pretty nifty huh? We think so!

This all being said and not to get into the nitty-gritty details right now, we are very pleased to announce one of our Premier Partners, Toshiba, has recently announced a new “plug-in” for their Strata CIX and IPedge voice-over-IP business telephones systems. This plug-in is designed to work specifically with Microsoft’s Lync 2010, their replacement for Office Communicator. This was all done in an effort to make customer’s efforts to delve into the Unified Messaging world just a little easier.

If you are currently a Toshiba Strata CIX or IPedge system user and have an interest in implementing Unified Messaging in your environment, please giveTeleco South Floridaa call today and let us help you with the process.


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Is Social Media Costing You Money?

Social media is becoming a primary resource for individuals and busineses to stay in touch and keep abreast with the latest news, information and technologies. While we encourage this method we also advise employers to stay on top of the use of this valuable Internet tool so as not to let it become a hindrance to your company.How often have you passed by an employee’s desk and noticed Facebook, Twitter or other social media web sites displayed on their computer screen? In a worse case scenario, are members of your staff surfing content which would ordinarily be considered inappropriate, unprofessional or even pornographic in nature?

Other employees who may be offended by this type of content may bring legal action against your company for not making an effort to control this type of behavior. This is known as sexual harassment or creating a hostile environment and can result in very costly legal fees.

Various surveys from companies such as America Online and Salary.com have found that Americans waste more than two hours a day at work costing their employers nearly $760 billion in lost revenue. This time is wasted surfing the Internet for personal use. With this knowledge, and understanding the nature of the scenarios above, the majority of businesses are looking for a solution to resolve these problems.

Install the Appropriate Technology

A simple yet relatively inexpensive method to help combat this problem is installing technology that monitors Internet usage allowing companies to keep track of the content accessed by employees, record keystrokes a user enters or even scan the content of an email for signs of personal use. This can be very effective but can also consume a considerable amount of time and has no guarantee of completely resolving the problem.

Take Your Business Back

Teleco South Florida’s IT Experts can offer alternative solutions which can put control of the Internet back into the business owner’s hands with our state-of-the-art web filtering solutions from leading manufacturers throughout the industry. Utilizing these highly-rated proven technologies, and with our expert assistance, any company can deploy multiple methods of monitoring and controlling your Internet connection thus streamlining the operational efficiencies of your staff and protecting the company from unwanted legal action.


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An Innovative Way to Save on Voice Technologies

When you use Google services, you trust us with your information. This Privacy Policy is meant to help you understand what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it. This is important; we hope you will take time to read it carefully. And remember, you can find controls to manage your information and protect your privacy and security at My Account.
There are many different ways you can use our services – to search for and share information, to communicate with other people or to create new content. When you share information with us, for example by creating a Google Account, we can make those services even better – to show you more relevant search results and ads, to help you connect with people or to make sharing with others quicker and easier. As you use our services, we want you to be clear how we’re using information and the ways in which you can protect your privacy.
Our Privacy Policy may change from time to time. We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent. We will post any privacy policy changes on this page and, if the changes are significant, we will provide a more prominent notice (including, for certain services, email notification of privacy policy changes). We will also keep prior versions of this Privacy Policy in an archive for your review.
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Support a Remote Workforce

<img class="alignleft wp-image-5681" style="margin: 4px;" title="Working from Home" src="/tsfimages/Work-from-Home see post.png” alt=”working remotely, home office, working from home, remote office” width=”292″ height=”194″ />The ability to support a remote workforce is becoming increasingly important to small- and medium-sized businesses across industries. Why? Because the practice of having some employees work “virtually” can be cost-effective, provide employers and employees with enhanced flexibility, and, in some cases, enable businesses to employ workers in different geographical areas without having to commit to multiple expensive office spaces.

However, in order to maximize the benefits of a remote workforce, companies must first set up a telecommuter-friendly technology infrastructure that allows virtual employees to effectively access your network and interact with coworkers while still keeping company data secure.

To help you get started, here are a few valuable technologies that can enable a virtual workforce to operate successfully.

1. Virtual Private Network – A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is critical if your business plans to support a remote workforce. It provides company-issued devices with a truly secure connection that fully encrypts traffic from end-to-end over the Internet. Your offsite employees can log into the VPN, access company drives, and work with files without worry of risk.

2. IP Telephony – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enables phone calls to be carried over the Internet instead of through ordinary telephone system lines, and it makes working remotely very easy. An IP phone can simply be programmed to a worker’s settings and brought home to be plugged into an existing Internet connection. By using a device that’s part of the office phone system, workers can maintain both their work phone number and all the functionality of an in-office phone, including the ability to transfer a call, mute a call, use the internal directory listing, access company voicemail and more. And because the phone calls go in and out over the Internet, there’s no interference with an employee’s home or mobile phone, and no complicated “who pays for what” cost structure for you.
(Even if your company isn’t planning on supporting a remote workforce, VoIP is something every business should look into using if they aren’t utilizing it already. Both Cloud-based and on-premise VoIP are cost-effective voice options that are easy to use, enormously flexible, and customizable.)

3. Collaborative Communication Tools – Even though they aren’t technically in the office, remote employees need to be able to communicate with everyone as if they’re in the cubicle next to you. This means collaborative communication tools, such as unified communications.

Unified communications technologies, like Microsoft’s Office Communications Server, provide employees with more than just coworkers’ contact information. They enable employees to:

  • See the “status” of their fellow workers in terms of whether one is working from home, in the office, on vacation, in a meeting, at a customer site, and so on.
  • Sync a calendar to the communications tool so incoming calls are automatically sent to the correct destination depending on your status.
  • Participate in instant messaging, video chatting, document sharing, conferencing and more.

To top it all off, your history within instant messages, call logs, and more on your user account remains the same as you move from laptop to desktop, from work phone to mobile. This way, you’re not confused about what you and “Joe from accounting” discussed via chat yesterday while you worked from home. You can log into your unified communications tool and revisit the chat from yesterday, even if you’re on a different device in the office.

These are just a few of the basics that can help your business support a remote workforce. For more, or information on anything we’ve discussed, please give Teleco South Florida a call or drop us an email today.


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Bill Kerrott – Promotion

Please join Teleco South Florida in congratulating Bill Kerrott on his promotion to Director, Emerging Technology & Sales Engineering. Bill has been with us for over 12 years designing and implementing our customer’s communications solutions. He holds over 25 training certificates and has been a Gold Sales Member of Toshiba products for the past 5 years.Bill’s new responsibilities will include assisting Teleco South Florida personnel with developing and deploying cutting edge technologies related to the telecommunications industry, creating new solutions which will specifically fit our customer needs and assisting sales staff with the engineering of new projects.

Bill has welcomed his new responsibilities and is greatly looking forward to improving on our already high-level of customer satisfaction.

Congratulations Bill! We’re looking forward to learning more about the newer technologies throughout the industry which will increase our knowledgebase and help us to provide an even higher-level of quality service to our ever-growing customer base!


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Slow Internet?

SleepingUserIs your experience surfing the Internet more like watching paint dry or grass grow? If you’re like a lot of business owners or managers this is just a common everyday occurrence.

You try to do a little research and you wait for what seems like centuries for your information to display. Most of us are all too quick to point the proverbial finger at our Internet providers. We’re here to try and shed a little different light on this often sore subject.

Before spending hours on-hold with technical support waiting to receive some kind of reasoning behind the pain-staking delays or spending huge amounts of money on your connection, we suggest you take a look internally at what may really be going on within your office.

Here are a few things to take a closer look at before you start screaming at your Internet provider and ripping out your network cabling:

Email – Almost everyone you know has an Internet email account of their own and is constantly checking-up on it to see if they’ve received new messages or to drop a note to a friend or family member. While this is not unusual behavior, it can slow down your Internet connection depending on what your employees may be doing. Let’s just say you have one person in the office who has received a funny link from a friend that they would like to have a quick look at. It just so happens, this is a link to either a movie, music-clip or other bandwidth hogging site… you’re going to see an impact, perhaps minimal, on your Internet speed. Now, imagine several individuals in your office are doing the same thing at the same time… no you’re probably going to see a substantial impact on your Internet speed at that point. We’re going to guess you experience the majority of your Internet connection issues first thing in the morning, somewhere around lunch time and shortly before close of business? Are we close? If so, employees utilizing personal email may be your culprit.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to Internet (personal) email, these sites are typically the main sources for virus infections and the introduction of system damaging trojans or worms. You really should take some steps to either limit or completely remove this type of access on your company Internet connection.

Streaming – I’m sure there may be quite a few people in your office that like to listen to music while they work right? Hey, who doesn’t, it often helps to ease the stress of a tedious work-day. The thing is, with everyone in the office streaming music to their workstation, you very well could be chewing-up unnecessary bandwidth and hindering Internet performance for those that are simply trying to do their job! While this seems relatively harmless, this too can definitely lead to poor performance.

Social Media – Here is a big one these days. Everybody is on Facebook aren’t they? We are. Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, just to name a couple, can be addicting. Employees searching through and downloading media streams and photographs can also have a negative impact on Internet performance.

Content –What are your employees looking at? Are they simply surfing the Internet to conduct research to benefit your business? Maybe, maybe not. What if you have staff members viewing online content which could be considered inappropriate or even pornographic in nature. Not only is this type of behavior simply wrong, it potentially opens up the possibility of another employee, who may find this type of activity offensive, filing a lawsuit against your business. This inappropriate behavior can lead to sexual harassment or hostile environment suits. We strongly suggest you take measures to curb this type of activity right away.

As much as this all may sound a little complicated, it is really very easy to control. There are many various hardware and software manufacturers out there today that can provide you with the tools you need to easily regulate and monitor your employee’s Internet activity. Some of them are actually quite flexible and simple to use. Let’s say you don’t want to be a complete scrooge and totally cut-off your employee’s personal use of the Internet. Well, that’s pretty easy, why not just give them access during non-peak hours of the work-day… let’s say lunch time or before and after business hours. That seems fair don’t you think? With all the various options available to you, it is really very easy to limit access. It can be done by the hours of the day, specific groups within your company and even down to the individual level.

At Teleco South Florida, we partner with several technology companies that can help you with your Internet woes. We offer effective and affordable solutions to our customers to help in this area. Why not give us a call or drop us an email today and see where we may be able to assist you with gaining better control over your company’s Internet activities?

 


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