As small businesses change and grow, the ability to quickly scale up — or down — becomes a necessity. Adding new employees, for example, requires the company to adapt its phone system to accommodate the need for more lines.
That is harder to accomplish using traditional on-premise telephony systems due to higher setup and maintenance costs, the need for hardware on-site and reliance on IT support. A cloud-based phone system, on the other hand, would enable small businesses to manage communication services in a less costly, more streamlined and agile manner.
Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone System
1. Fully-Integrated Communications System
Business tools that operate in the cloud are easy to deploy, enabling employees to stay connected whether they are in the office or on the go. In this way, the cloud provides a consistent business presence and helps to increase productivity with seamless access to CRM tools, email, instant messaging, voice and videoconferencing.
2. Control Over Modes of Communication
A cloud-operated system puts businesses in the driver’s seat, allowing them to pick and choose what features they need, with access to turn them on or off easily. Also, cloud solutions give employees anytime, anywhere access via a smartphone, desk phone or softphone to all their calling features.
3. Top Line Business Features
A cloud-based phone system would give small businesses access to the types of network applications that one would typically find at larger corporations. These include features such as a Virtual Assistant, Auto Attendant, Never Miss a Call or Call Center solutions.
4. Mobility and Ease of Use
Today’s workplace is increasingly mobile, and small businesses especially need to be able to operate from multiple locations. With a cloud-based system, small business employees have access to features that allow them to log in from anywhere so that they can be reached while on the go, giving customer-facing and revenue-producing employees greater control over their productivity.
5. Time Management and Efficiency
Web-based customer portals enable IT staff to manage their system more efficiently. With insight into the installation, service configuration, trouble tickets, training, billing and call analytics, this full access to a customer’s system and account allows them to spend fewer resources on project management and focus more on work that adds to the bottom line.
6. Flexibility to Scale Up (and Down)
As a business grows, so does the need to hire new employees, open new offices and onboard new customers. This requires a communications system that can scale up — or down — as the need arises. With a cloud-based phone system, businesses can add as many extensions as they need to accommodate heightened call volume, or, if necessary, simply call in to deactivate these extra extensions. Unlike traditional systems, businesses only pay for the extensions they need for as long as they need them.
7. Business Continuity
Working with a phone system “in the cloud” allows businesses to remain connected to their customers no matter the environment. A cloud-based communications system is likely to be unaffected by outside factors such as severe weather or other issues that may keep employees from getting to the office.
8. Improved Customer Service
With the Virtual Receptionist (VR) or Auto Attendant feature, businesses can easily direct calls to various departments and even create greetings unique to a given department. For example, a business could set up a holiday greeting in advance (via the administrative portal) and pre-set it to revert to the non-holiday greeting on a specified date. It could also add an on-hold message about special promotions or commonly asked questions.
9. New Service Features Added Easily
During busy seasons, some businesses will add premium calling features to increase call-taking efficiency and maximize staffing. Call Groups, for example, allow incoming calls to ring on multiple extensions. Call Queues provide a “dynamic waiting room” for callers that let businesses customize the on-hold experience and better manage call volume. Both help to decrease voicemails, missed calls and busy signals, enabling service to as many callers as possible.
10. Cost Savings
Cost savings are another benefit of cloud-based phone system. Moving telecommunications off of PBX platforms and to the cloud can be less expensive relative to monthly service rates versus that of a traditional system, helping to reduce costs and, ultimately, increase profitability.
If your company is looking to reap the benefits of moving to the cloud, then contact us for assistance.
Give your business freedom from hardware constraints with the agility and functionality of cloud computing.
Cloud requires no upfront costs, which makes it an operating expense rather than a capital expense. Your business will benefit from predictable monthly payments that cover software licenses, updates, support and daily backups. Cloud technologies provide greater flexibility as your business only pays for what it uses and can easily scale up and down to meet demand.
Moving to the cloud enables your business to no longer pay to power on-premises servers or to maintain the environment. This significantly reduces energy bills.
Finally, for those concerned with security, cloud data centers employ security measures far beyond what most SMBs can afford. Your company data is much safer in the cloud than on a server in their office.
Move your business to the cloud ahead of Office 2010 and Windows 7 End of Support!
If your company is looking to make the move to cloud, then contact us for assistance.
What happens to your phones when the power goes out, the internet is down, or the old copper lines are down from a natural disaster? Are your customers going to get a busy signal? How quickly will they call the competition?
Phone System Backup Plan
With a standard phone service there would be nothing to prevent the busy signal from happening. With phone service from Farmhouse Networking all calls have the ability to be automatically forwarded and routed to virtually any person, device, or location. Plus our platform includes connectivity to multiple carriers for redundancy purposes, so no single carrier issue will impact your business.
Disasters might not be under our control, but business can continue to happen even when they occur.
If your company is concerned about losing calls or looking to add the protection a cloud phone system provides, then contact us for assistance.
When it comes to security threats, it’s not “if” disaster will strike, it’s “when.” So, how will your organization respond? Do you have the proper infrastructure in place to thwart a potential data disaster and if disaster does strike, is your organization poised to recover quickly?
While 100% prevention of a data disaster is impossible, there are several ways you can position your organization to get your systems back up and running with as little disruptions to day-to-day operations as possible:
File Level Backup:
A good file sync and share tool is more than just a way for your team to collaborate on the go, it’s a vital component to your organization’s security strategy. With file level backup, you can ensure that even in the event of a site wide disaster, your team can maintain anytime access to their critical files.
Backup and Disaster Recovery:
Your last line of defense in a site wide disaster, backup and disaster recovery solutions allow you to recover at the systems level. An absolutely necessary piece of your organizational infrastructure, backup and disaster recovery delivers peace of mind that your systems will always be recoverable, even when disaster strikes.
Cloud-to-cloud backup fills in the gaps left by some of the most commonly used SaaS applications, such as Office 365. Many of these cloud applications fall short in the way of cloud-retention and a good cloud-to-cloud backup solution can help you protect critical business data while providing enhanced features to maximize your user experience and more importantly, security.
Here are a couple recent SPAM emails that were received by clients and myself. They are explicit in nature but they a good lesson about the scare tactics of SPAMMERS. The first message seems to be the better SPAM message as it has better English and is even tries to be humorous, while the second is more direct and extortionary. Time to dissect these messages.
SPAM Message #1
Password – This message starts by stating that it knows your password. How can this be? There have been several information breaches from the government, retailers, healthcare, etc over the past couple of years. The majority of these breaches are eventually posted online with emails and passwords – hence the reason Farmhouse Networking has started offering Dark Web scanning and advises passwords be changed often.
Remote Access – The SPAMMER then goes on to provide a detailed explanation of how they got into the computer. It sounds convincing but deeper analysis by someone who is in the IT Security industry would reveal that their explanation is flawed. To do what they proposed would take several different exploits of various portions of the computer and would likely take longer than video would be playing.
Contacts – For their “computer software” to get contacts from all these various sources would require that the password mentioned earlier in the email be the same for all these services. It is recommended by Farmhouse Networking that different passwords be used for each service so that if one is compromised then the rest are not in jeopardy. It might be asked how to keep track and the answer is a password keeping software like LastPass.
SPAM Message #2
Threats – The message starts immediately with the intimidating remarks and threats. It may be true that alerting the authorities will not bring any immediate assistance, but if we are all upstanding citizens then there is nothing to worry about their threats. It is always good to submit these messages to the authorities (FBI) for analysis so they can take these guys down over time. I do find it sad that this SPAMMER did not take the time to explain how they gained access to my computer.
Webcam – It is very possible that if your computer is infected properly that the hacker could gain access to your webcam, but again if we are upstanding citizens and don’t do anything inappropriate in front of our computers then there is nothing to worry about here.
Bitcoin – The demands continue with a sense of expediency in the matter giving only 28 hours before the big reveal. This particular SPAMMER either knows the value of the first SPAMMERS creativity in producing a video or are selling themselves short at the $400 ransom in Bitcoin. Finally, they even try to give a bit of legitimacy to their claim by stating that they can send the video to a partial list of contacts.
If your company is interested in Dark Web Scanning for on-going breach protection or worried about SPAM, then contact us for assistance.
Thought that I would share a recently received new SPAM email variant that could easily be overlooked and possibly be a scammer looking to take your money. This one is strange to me and I wanted to share my insites.
Starting from the Top
Look closely at the From portion of the email:
This email is from a legitimate email marketing firm called AWeber. The SPAMMER is actually using a website designed to help bypass SPAM filtering to deliver mail. There is also the fact that the email is form someone that I don’t do business with. Always fight the urge to look at things that are not yours.
Stick to the Subject
Now to take a look at the Subject line of the email:
The email marketing firm this SPAM is sent from is required that you confirm someone who is joining your email campaign. Guess I would have to agree to be scammed by this person.
And now the rest…
The final thing that caught my eye was the title of the email campaign in the email:
The enticing title “Clickbank – 30k project” sounded interesting. By clicking on the button I would confirm my existence as a real person and would likely kick off a communication from someone who is likely an “African Prince” with a money making opportunity. Hope this little tutorial helps you detect other phishing attempts in the future.
If your company is having trouble with SPAM or phishing, then contact us for assistance.
If it seems like this is a typical question in your office then there is hope. The concept of internet failover has been around for years. With the advent of 4G LTE cellular networks internet failover is now within reach of the small business. If the main internet connection goes down then the 4G LTE cellular network will kick in automatically to keep your business flowing. When the main internet connection comes back online it will automatically switch back to restore full speed access.
How We Fix the Internet
Business Class Router: The Datto Networking Appliance has all the specs of true business class router including all the usual services (DHCP, DNS, VLAN, DMZ, Access Rules, etc). It also has all the features that you need to secure and expand your business with seven layer deep packet inspection, intrusion detection, traffic shaping (VoIP), client VPN, site-to-site VPN, and cloud management.
Connectivity: This router has all the connectivity you could ever need. It has 4 Gigabit LAN ports to help physically segment the network. It has the latest and most redundant wireless connectivity available. It has a fully integrated multi-band 4G LTE wireless cellular modem to keep you connected when wired internet fails.
Peace of Mind: Leave the connectivity worries to us. Our expert team will be monitoring and maintaining the Datto Networking Appliance at all times via the cloud management console and integrated alerting. We will know the internet is down before you do and will take the steps needed to get your ISP to fix things.
If your company’s internet is constantly going down, then contact us for assistance.
Working with a webhost to tighten their security settings to get PCI compliant. In doing so we ended up breaking many of their clients email access by turning off SSLv3 and TLSv1.0. I was given the task of helping all the clients fix this issue (see seperate blog post for the fix). One in particular ended up not having issues beyond the normal problems with TLS and it turned out being ESET Antivirus. Here is the story:
Unable to Access Website:
The client first mentioned that they could not access a particular website that they needed to submit government paperwork. The error was related to the certificate being out of date. I checked the site on my own computer and it came up just fine, so looked at their certificate and it was current with plenty of time left before expiring. Cleared the cache and all the normal troubleshooting steps to no avail, so had to dig deeper. Remembered that some antivirus programs scan HTTPS traffic by putting their own certificate in place of the actual certificate from the site. Looked inside ESET Antivirus and found the culprit. Under Internet Protection > Web Access Protection I turned off the HTTPS Scanner. Restarted the browser and was able to surf to the site without issues.
Hidden Messages Stuck in Outlook Outbox:
The client then mentioned that some messages weren’t sending, so looked into it and found a couple messages that were 2MB+ which I told them were too large to send. We got rid of those but then messages were still stuck but were now hidden from view. I used the typical fix for read receipts that are hidden using the MFCMAPI tool but found nothing there. Tried removing the account and re-adding it to Outlook. After the clients 8,000+ emails downloaded via IMAP the same problem began occurring again. Remembering the issues with ESET Antivirus web filtering, I decided to take a look at that again. Under Internet Protection > Email client protection I turned off all the Email Clients, Email Protocols, and Antispam Protection. Restarted Outlook and the problem persisted. Had to remove the account and re-add it to Outlook. After the clients 8,000+ emails downloaded via IMAP the problem was fixed.
All that being said, these kinds of problems are another reason that I recommend Webroot to my clients for their antivirus protection. I prefer to have the Website filtering happen at the DNS level via a company like DNSFilter.com and the SPAM / Email filtering to happen via the email provider or an email protection service like Mailprotector.com.
If your company is interested in using a real layered approach to security not just putting a software band-aid on it, then contact us for assistance.
As companies increasingly move data into cloud-based applications, many administrators think traditional best practices such as data backup are outdated. After all, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application is always available, accessible from anywhere, and highly redundant, so why is backup necessary?
1 in 3 companies report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. That means the permanent deletion of potentially hundreds of work hours.
The truth is that even data in cloud-based applications are vulnerable to:
Malware damage or ransomware attacks
Accidental end-user deletion
Malicious end-user activity
Operational errors such as accidental data overwrites
Lost data due to canceled user account subscriptions
Misconfigured application workflows
Datto SaaS Protection won’t let your critical data slip through the cracks. Engineered to be the leading, one stop shop for cloud-to-cloud SaaS application backup, SaaS Protection gives you consistently reliable granular backups, quick and easy restores and exports, secured data for compliance and regulatory needs, and world-class 24/7/365 support.
SaaS Protection Supports the Following Applications:
G-Suite – Protect emails, documents, calendars, sites, and contacts in Google’s G Suite.
There’s no such thing as too safe. Datto SaaS Protection goes above and beyond industry standards to make sure G-Suite data is secure, easily recoverable, and protected:
Automatic 3X daily backups of Google Mail, Drive, Calendar, Contacts, and Sites data
SOC2 Type II audited
Supports HIPAA compliance needs
Data encryption both in transit and at rest in the Datto Cloud
Advanced internal controls
Data controls and monitoring, including audit logs, uptime and availability SLAs, and export capabilities
Regular vulnerability management and testing
SaaS Protection saves you and your team time and stress with search filters that quickly locate backed up files and folders.. even if users can’t remember what they called them.
Easily track deleted items
Locate and browse any previous versions of documents
Lighten the help desk load: SaaS Protection lets users access their own backups
Office 365 – Protect Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Contacts, and Calendars in Office 365.
There’s no such thing as too safe. Datto SaaS Protection goes above and beyond industry standards to make sure Office 365 data is secure, easily recoverable, and protected.
Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Calendar and Contacts are automatically backed up 3X a day
SOC 2 Type II audited
Supports HIPAA compliance needs
Data encryption both at rest and in transit
Data controls and monitoring tools, including audit logs, uptime and availability SLAs, and export capabilities
SaaS Protection saves your team time and stress with robust search filters that make it easy to quickly locate backed up files and folders.
Manage backups, view restores, and monitor activity across all of your customers from an easy-to-use dashboard
Zero in on emails, contacts, individual files and entire folders with our search function
Restore files directly to a user’s account or download them directly
If your company is G-Suite or Office 365 and want a complete disaster recovery solution, then contact us for assistance.