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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 – 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.