How to Protect Your PBX System from Fraud

A private branch exchange (PBX) works by having a piece of hardware that acts as a switchboard, sorting, routing and connecting all the calls that use the system. It’s an enticing option because a corporation owns the PBX system, not a phone company, and can cut the cost of having to get a specific phone line for each user in the organization’s central office. But despite its simple and straightforward approach, PBX hasn’t ignited the public’s attention the way the telephone first did.

PBX Fraud

There are two basic kinds of telecom fraud: PBX fraud (DISA), and voicemail fraud. With the first one, PBX (direct inward system access), fraudsters sell the PBX lines to third-party operators who sell long-distance at a high profit. Because these calls look the same to the service or equipment providers, all an intruder has to do is use a system command to get a dial tone. Once they’ve done that, they make long-distance calls on behalf of those selling them for profit.

A really simple way to help prevent this is to use access codes in your PBX system. As businesses grow and acquire more people, requiring each employee to input an authorization code or smart password can drastically cut down on the amount of long-distance hacks that take place after business hours. You can also block long-distance calls to the Caribbean, one of the biggest hotspots where long-distance calling fraud occurs.

Voicemail Fraud

By far, the most common type of telecom fraud to take place is through a PBX system’s voicemail. But whereas an intruder committing PBX fraud would use a system command to place long-distance calls, here they would do so via voicemail. And once they get the dial tone, they’ve successfully commandeered your PBX system for their own profit and benefit.

Having a complex voicemail password, changing it on a regular basis, and using the maximum number of characters are three of the easiest ways to cut down on voicemail fraud happening to your PBX system. Another is to delete a mailbox when an employee leaves the company because the longer the mailbox is not attended to (and the password left unchanged), the easier it is to hack into it. You can also limit the voicemail to internal calling so third parties have a much more difficult time accessing your PBX system voicemail.

Although there’s no foolproof method of protecting your PBX system against fraud, you can make it just about impossible for third parties to intrude. And remember to always monitor and analyze activity because the more in tune you are with your PBX system, the less chance there is of fraud taking place.

For all of your business PBX and telecommunications needs, contact Integrated Communications today.

Understanding Business Phone Systems #Training

Selecting a business phone system can be hard work – but, is that the hardest part? For many of our customers, ongoing training and/or initial comprehension of the product purchased seems to be an evaporating offering by business phone systems vendors and telecom carriers. The big WOW factor comes into play during the phone demo you and your executives sit through, but, once you’ve inked their papers it’s all very “thank you, come again”; it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, at Integrated we partner with business phone systems providers who will ensure your company’s employees are well versed with the product purchased, as well as training a system administrator who may be put in charge of handling small changes with your new phone system.

If you are apprehensive about understanding your new business phone system, be sure to speak with your provider or telecom agent prior to purchase to guarantee they will offer you and your staff proper training. Check out our recommended business phone system provider if you are looking for a company that will be with you 100% of the way, guiding you through your new technology purchase.

Recommended for Excellent Phone System Training:

Company Name: Cutting Edge Communications

Established: 1998

Business Phone Systems: AVAYA

Training Offered: SMB Market, Corporate Training – for end users and system administrators

Services Offered: Phone Systems, Structured Wiring, Programming, Training, Video Surveillance, Staging Preparation, Legacy Equipment Maintenance and Repair, Maintenance Plans, Firewall Security and VPN…

Website: http://www.cuttingedgecommunications.com/

 

*A great provider should always offer your company a review of their product, a demo of their product, and training after implementation of their product – never settle for less. 

Hacking – Your PBX Phone System at Risk

Hacking is a term we relate as a potential danger for our personal banking information, social media accounts, etc… Unfortunately, hacking goes beyond our individual assets and can affect the businesses we operate and utilize on a daily basis – no business is safe being hacked, including Billion dollar companies and banks (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and even the Government is at a constant risk). If you are a business owner and/or IT administrator of any sorts, it is extremely imperative that you defend and secure your companies’ PBX phone system. We have all heard of the hackers that break-in through your voice mail due to poor password protection and give themselves international privileges on your company’s dime, but, what about the new age of VoIP phone systems hackers? Are you prepared to combat the new wave of one-click internet hackers out to get you for every penny you’ve got? Be prepared for both!

Here are a few tips from the experts we work with on securing your PBX phone system.

– Understand your provider.

According to Carl Wallin of Acticor Technologies (a phone vendor in the Twin Cities – check them out @ www.acticor.com), hacking has become a huge issue over the past few years – especially with the expansion of VOIP. One of their current customers’ phone system was hacked and as a result they were billed for over $8,000.00; unfortunately, the provider they were with at the time gave no lea-way or “grace”, so-to-speak, in that type of situation and the company was left to pay for the entire bill. Wallin suggests knowing what your provider’s protocols are in those particular situations: “speak with your voice provider ASAP regarding their preventative and quantitative measures for detecting and combating hackers. There are definitely providers I would not suggest for these exact reasons, and others that have developed and maintained software for these circumstances and are better equip to handle a disaster before it occurs, as well as prepared to tackle the aftermath of the hacking calamity if something were to transpire”. The Allworx system, provided by Acticor, addresses the issue of hacking and has impeccable software to protect against the lurking dangers of outside influences on your phone system.

– Understand the target.

Hackers do not generally target any of your “regular” phones – they target your 3rd party, generic extensions…your break room PBX, conference PBX, Android/I-phone applications, etc… Be sure to password protect ALL equipment used for your business, and speak with your providers about what they do for hacking detection and prevention. Default passwords just do NOT cut-it anymore. It’s time to move beyond the default password (you know – the 1234 or 0000) and create a sound password that is not easily detected or hacked by a computer.

– Understand Security Audits. 

Regularly check and maintain security authorizations on your network and your PBX phone system. Be sure to remind your employees on a scheduled basis to implement a new password for both their phone (voice-mail) and their internet security check-points. Hospitals, as well as banks and other businesses requiring immense protection due to protocol and patient/customer privacy should be sure to place prompts on their employees’ system to activate a password change every few months.

 

Speak further with your telecom agent, phone provider, and vendor to make sure you and your company are protected from hackers and unwanted billing.

 

From Disaster to Recovery (Business Tips for Disaster Recovery)

 

Fires, floods, tornadoes, oh my! Let’s face it, as business owners and representatives there are many outside factors in which we have little-to-no control over that can create a dip in profit for a few days, or eradicate an entire business structure in a matter of minutes. It’s important to prepare for disasters and protect the assets of your company and your customers. Equipping your company with a pragmatic recovery plan requires knowledge of probable complications that can occur, as well as the necessary steps to implement and test before a disaster strikes. Here are a few questions and points to mull over while preparing your company for disaster:

Budget

How much money are you willing to spend to protect your business?

Although no specific number can ever represent the dream of your business, the people, or the work put in, it’s time to get realistic and determine how much of a budget you can carve out to plan and implement a concrete disaster recovery plan.

How much money will your company lose on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if and when a disaster occurs?

Be sure to weigh the difference of your companies’ profit with how much money to put into a recovery plan. A small business who can survive a while on their existing customer base may only need to endure a small cost for a few recovery operations; however, a larger corporation, hospital, bank, and so on, will need a more complex blueprint, therefore, requiring more of a disaster recovery budget.

Total Recovery Considerations

What are the most important business assets that need to be accounted for and replaced in order to restore your business and maintain the least possible downtime?

Think about your daily operations and what is utilized in order to minimally and maximally function.

– Office Space: If you already have or will need back-up files hosted in the cloud for all of your business data, how will you access that data? How will your employees?

Consider a budget for a small office space in the case of an emergency that your key employees can work from if need be.

– Equipment: What if all of your phones and computers are damaged? Do you have recovery for your equipment ready in the event no repairs can be made or all equipment is lost?

Perhaps educating yourself on VoIP phone systems will allow you easy and quick access to a phone system for as many employees as necessary. A product such as Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office can be effortlessly procured in the case of an emergency and will allow for quick voice uptime with an easy plug-and-play functionality. Check out a review on the Velocity Telephone Product: http://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/

Tested

So you have a disaster recovery plan in place. Your employees have all been notified where to go in the event of an emergency, your carrier has provided you with redundancy in case the power shuts-down, and you’ve got Dave Johnson on standby incase mother nature strikes and you need new phones a.s.a.p. Now what?

Quite simply, test. Practice really does make perfect. Be sure to keep your employees safe first and foremost by providing drills for different disasters. Next, make sure to coordinate with your telecom agent and test your voice and data redundancy. Lastly, touch-base with all of your equipment vendors, customers, etc… to provide them with who to contact in case of an emergency, and how you will contact, inform, and connect with them when a disaster occurs.

 

Contact us for more information on the types of voice and data back-ups we can offer your company to help you protect your best assets in the face of disaster.

What is VoIP?

What is VoIP?

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) literally translates to a call being made over the same set of rules as the Internet uses; a phone call over your Internet connectivity. However, VoIP is no longer strictly operable through means of the internet alone, like it once was; rather it operates with the same protocol (a set of rules) as the Internet does.

VoIP capable products are considered “plug-and-play” and allow for a phone system to be plugged directly into your data network, allowing your employees to make phone calls from the data connection; keep in mind if you have high call volumes you may want more bandwidth depending on the call quality. While more bandwidth may not be necessary for call quality, ensuring that your voice comes before all other data will ensure business operable call quality.

Many telecom service providers are seasoned and well equipped for the VoIP future that ensues. These providers offer a phone system in order to use VoIP technology, referred to as IP phones. There are many types of IP phones, servicing businesses from a one-man shop to a multi-billion dollar organization with many complex needs and services. (Refer to http://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/ for a review on a VoIP phone system).

 Your VoIP capable phone system also allows for your employees to take their IP phone-set ANYWHERE to work and/or make calls and bypass the long-distance toll by using their new plug-and-play phone and utilizing data connectivity to make their calls – an inter-operable product that works over multiple networks. How is this possible? Your IP phone system comes equip with its own IP address and can be accessed for use at any time and any place by means of the cloud – your service provider will allow for the phone to search the cloud to find the appropriate IP address, allowing for voice service through VoIP.

Be sure to gather information on the different VoIP products to find the one that best fits your company’s current and growing needs. VoIP is a service in which is becoming more relevant and readily accessible, and one we highly recommend here at Integrated Communications.

 

Ethernet Over Copper – Business Internet with Speed

Ethernet Over Copper – Business Internet (with speed)

The advancements of business internet connections are insurmountable. Just when we get used to a network connection that will bring us reliable speed, another product is released that claims MORE reliability and bandwidth, and all for a cheaper cost. No matter what situation your company is in – needing more bandwidth, having to cut costs, or wanting dedicated-lines without extreme build-costs, Ethernet over Copper (EoC) is a product worth investing in.

EoC is at a comparable price-point to your current T1s; furthermore, offering many of the same benefits of fiber optic internet. EoC is a symmetrical, dedicated, and secure product – definitely a viable market option.

 

Compare and contrast EoC to other business internet services available:

blog chart

*Based off of major metropolitan areas (click on image to enlarge)

5 Biggest Benefits of Fiber Optic Internet

Fiber connectivity has some serious benefits for companies of ALL sizes and necessities. While the cost to build fiber can be extensive (depending on location and availability) the benefits are insurmountable. Here are a list of the top 5 benefits of fiber optic Internet for your company:

1. Security – Fiber is the MOST secure network: for example, it is quite possible to attach to a copper line in order to hack into the system, however, fiber connectivity is made out of glass, and the only way to penetrate the system is to break it, which would cause the whole system to go down and in turn would alert you that you have been hacked – rare disruption of connectivity.

2. Speed – Fiber optic internet runs at the speed of light – the fastest transport medium allowing for quick and instant data retrieval.

3. High Bandwidth – Symmetrical bandwidth (same upload speed as download speed) allowing for much longer transmission distances and high signal rates.

4. Private Connection – No other businesses run off the same line as you, hence a PRIVATE connection.

5. NO Electromagnetic Interference – If and when the fiber optic cables need to be run in close or nearby proximity to electrical machinery (especially ones with high-frequency noises), fiber connectivity allows the control signals to be carried without error or interference, making fiber a number one choice for factory and machinery companies.

Contact Integrated Communications for more information regarding fiber optics Internet and it’s availability for your company @ (763)201-8000 or email info@integratedcom.net

Monthly Review: Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office – a voip Product

Ever wonder about a product, its key features, other companies’ opinions, etc., BEFORE you go out and purchase it? The truth is, oftentimes businesses are wowed at demo’s with fast-talk, and lots of intrigue but never really have the chance to dig deep into a particular product. So, before you go and spend your businesses hard-earned cash on a less-than-ideal investment, be sure to get full reviews from un-biased persons, such as ourselves, and educate yourself on the product before you purchase it.

This month we will be reviewing Virtual Office – a voip Velocity Telephone product, and one we currently use at our own office! Besides product information, we will also provide personal likes on the product we use straight from the employees at Integrated Communications, as well as information on how you can schedule a demo for this business phone at your company.

PRODUCT: Virtual Office; a Hosted VOIP system

COMPANY FIT: This product can fit companies of a large scale, from a 1-2 person at home office to a multi-site company with thousands of employees

FEATURES: Multiple line appearances, call transferring, 3-way conference call, mute, hold, forwarding, speed dials, flexibility in users – limitless expandability, and functions in many works spaces (including home offices, call centers, and virtual call centers), multiple handset options for virtual office, call recording, call blocking, system-wide busy lamp, unified messaging, caller ID, outbound call rejection, video-conferencing capability, admin login user information for customization of product, internal and external conference bridging, call center packaging options, and many other unique packaging and feature options to fit most business needs

HANDSET OPTIONS: Virtual office comes equip with 4 different handset options; Grandstream GXP2124 is a top choice phone featuring 4 dedicated line keys, HD audio quality, integrated web applications, back-lit LCD, key extensions, and many other customizable options and features; Grandstream GXP285 involves easy installation, hand-free duplex speakerphone, 2 call appearances, and is the most cost effective handset for small businesses; Grandstream GXP2100 is an easy-to-use 4 line telephone, supports integrated power-over-ethernet best for both small businesses and enterprise customers; Grandstream GXP2120 comes equip with a high resolution graphic LCD, best fit with executive offices and advanced enterprise users

EMPLOYEE REVIEWS:  The users at Integrated Communications appreciate many of the products features, and all seem to have our personal favorite; a few key features liked about the Virtual Office Grandstream GXP2110 product includes:

– We are able to plug the phone in anywhere with an Internet connection and it configures up and works

– We enjoy the convenience of being able to forward to our cell-phone, but the message left will still be on our work phone rather than transferred over to our cell phone messaging system – it helps with keeping work and customers in an organized place but allowing us to pick-up the phone whenever and wherever to better assist our customers

– Users can be in charge of their own system with instant access to a web portal designed for easy-use

– Any call unanswered by a single user is placed in their missed-call cue, it’s a great way for us to keep track of who’s called in to the company

PRESIDENT REVIEW:

– I’m able to view call logs for all users at the company

– With virtual office we never have to pay another maintenance fee

– The company is covered for all software updates and handsets that need to be replaced

– All of the employees are given individual DID’s  with our current main number

– The use of desk-top faxing is convenient and fast

– Users can twin their cell phone and their desk phone to ring at the same time

– We do a lot of conference calling and it’s nice to have the capability to conference in up to 4 people

Contact Integrated Communications to learn more about our personal experience with the Virtual Office product, for pricing options, and to see the phone system for yourself today – also call if you are interested in learning about other business phone options, network solutions, or to get reviews on any product you may currently be interested in!

Integrated Communications: (763) 201-8000

The Pros and Cons of Hosted pbx

These days, everyone wants to go hosted! From email and web hosting to phone systems in “the cloud”, hosted solutions are becoming more prevalent in technology and telecom. So, what does this mean for you as the business consumer and are you supposed to move to a hosted phone system in this ever-changing technological world? Well, there are definite advantages to going hosted, as well as some drawbacks. Learn more about hosted phone systems before making your decision by outweighing the pros and the cons, and depicting how it all pertains to your business.

 PROS of Hosted pbx:

Your business can get brand new phones with little to no capital investment

– There aren’t any on-going maintenance or service charges

– It is a very versatile system – allowing you to make changes “on-the-fly” through designated portals

– Often-times equip with the newest features, and consistent FREE ongoing software updates for cutting-edge technology

– If your Internet goes down, your incoming callers (potential customers) will still get your voice mail and you will be able to retrieve those messages

– Generally, hosted phone systems are a great choice for small businesses (5-10 employees) with potential growth

 CONS of Hosted pbx:

Without enough bandwidth and a stable Internet connection, you are prone to voice quality issues

– If your Internet goes down, you are without voice AND Internet, as they are all connected

– Often-times unable to “customize” aspects of the phone system

– May cost more over a longer period of time than a traditional premise-based phone system (if you plan on utilizing a phone system, or have owned one in the past for over 10 years, premised-based systems are the most cost effective)

– The provider hosting your phone system may not be able to make changes to your system fast enough, and may not provide you total control into a portal to do so yourself (dependent upon carrier)

– You are not in complete control to manage your phone system, as you are dependent upon the provider

Either way you take your business – hosted or premise-based – technology continues to thrive and strive as systems transform and change with every year; neither choice is the wrong choice, it’s all about finding the choice that fits your companies’ needs the best. Be sure you are working with the right provider who has your best interest in mind, and are well informed before you make your final decision.

Business Phone and Internet Testimonial

 After completing our recent MPLS conversion, I wanted to express our sincere appreciation for all of the great service Integrated Communications has provided. We have worked with [Integrated employees] over the course of the past two years and quickly realized we made a wise choice in selecting your services for our telecom networking needs.

With the relationships you have with all of the local service providers, it is clear that we could leverage these relationships to our advantage and get the best service for the best price for our organization.

Nate Young provided us with a select list of local service providers that were interested in providing MPLS service to our organization. Once we made the decision on our service provider, this is where we really appreciated our relationship with Integrated Communications.

Thalina, we could tell from our very first meeting that you had our best interest in mind. When there were any questions about dates, deadlines, and scheduling, you were relentless to make sure we had the proper people from the telecom, your organization, as well as Tiller Corporation involved. Basically, you provided superior project management service!

After reviewing each of our four installations, the implementation at every location was successful because of the thorough planning and scheduling that was managed by you and your staff. When dates from the telecom were delayed, you asked the right questions and kept the project moving forward. The services that Integrated Communications provided are a value that any company needing telecommunication services should consider.

We are proud to have established a long-term relationship with Integrated Communications and look forward to working with you in the future.

Sincerely,

Gene A. Schaff | Director of IT | Tiller Corporation

*A Tiller Corporation testimonial regarding Integrated Communications Business Phone and Internet services*