Posted on April 17, 2015 by Dan Quick
The folks at Software Advice have released the second part of their SIP Trunking Provider and Implementation User Research Report, and we’re pleased to see the results. Software Advice takes complex IT and software issues and distills them for non-technical users to make simplified software decisions. In this two-part research project, they studied the usage, effectiveness, and satisfaction of hundreds of network telephony experts and found conclusive evidence that SIP trunking was a supreme advantage for SMB’s looking for cost-effective ways to maintain a secure, high-quality business phone service. In the second part of their research on the topic, Software Advice Analyst, Daniel Harris unearths more findings in support of a hosted PBX phone service for business.
One very compelling finding of the report is that users of cloud-based PBX systems were nearly 29% more likely to have all of their desired features supported by their phone service than were their on-premesis PBX colleagues. This conclusion is emblematic of one of the most convincing reasons to switch to a hosted telephone service. Features included or added onto an on-site PBX system – from introductory to the most robust – can be prohibitively expensive. However, those same features and more can be included with most any level of cloud-based PBX service.
By being hosted in the cloud, virtual phone systems aren’t hindered by the same limitations of their physical, on-site counterparts. This means that for any added feature or modification to an existing one, neither specially trained technicians nor unique and expensive equipment is required. By simply reconfiguring the cloud-based system from an online management portal, a sophisticated VoIP provider allows users to be masters of their own phone options, without any special training.
Considering the high technical fluency of the audience in the Software Advice report, configuration challenges shouldn’t be something that were often encountered in implementing new PBX systems of any variety. However, even though the lack of special training wasn’t a concern with this sample group, there persisted to be challenges for configuring the on-premises PBX with SIP trunking.
The compatibility of physical devices is one reason the expert IT world struggles with on-site PBX systems. PBX hardware is not unlike mobile phones that require a specific type of charging cable or TVs or monitors that require certain AV connections. These types of incompatibilities are much more challenging to overcome than simply finding a converter, though.
“When it comes to configuration, our respondents have more difficulty configuring on-premise systems than cloud systems, most likely because of the proprietary hardware involved in this setup,” said Daniel Harris of Software Advice. Where physical configuration can eventually be overcome with costly work-arounds, there are still issues with making the on-premise hardware recognize SIP trunking software. Unlike the malleability of codes, hardware can’t be as easily updated to accommodate new third-party applications.
“With on-premise systems, however, the SIP trunking provider has to ensure that its service can support proprietary PBX software and hardware from a third-party vendor,” Harris added.
More often than not, we are assailed with new reasons to be concerned for our data security. While not typically the first place we expect intruders to try and illegally access information, securing business phone lines is especially important. This is another reason why IT pros were keen to report more robust security on their cloud-based PBX over an on-premise option. One of the more popular ways to secure SIP trunking transmissions is Transport Layer Security (TLS), a method often used to secure payment information online. Idealized for securing the transfer of data packets that VoIP conversations are converted into, TLS encrypts the SIP requests between clients and servers, or in this case, businesses using cloud PBX systems and their SIP trunking providers. The heartiness of this method is ideal not only for the protection of financial information online, but for the prevention of DoS (Denial of Service) attacks like have been perpetrated against banks and the US government.
Past research has already shown that SIP trunking offers meaningful cost savings for small and medium businesses, but this new study suggests those savings go even further. By not tying up the limited bandwidth of a company’s tech team with cumbersome, troublesome, and unsecured telephone connections, an SMB can free itself up to focus on the jobs they want to do to grow. Also, added savings come from the prevention of crippling security failures that might be suffered absent the staunch defenses offered by a strong security configuration to any cloud-based PBX.
For more information on VoIP for business and for any questions you may have on how to configure a cloud-based telephone network that will bring these savings to your company, contact our award-winning business experts today.
Protect Ya Neck – The Top Tax Scams Of 2015
Posted on April 13, 2015 by Dan Quick
In this series of blogs we will examine all topics under the information security umbrella. From corporate blunders to rogue state attacks to the occasional celebrity hack, we believe there is something for businesses and individuals to learn from any cyber security event. We also believe that, while experience is the best teacher, it’s even better to let other people make the mistakes for you.
If you don’t know that taxes are due on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, frankly I would begin to get a little worried. That said, many of us are still hustling to get things completed in time and, in the rush, might be a bit less meticulous than we ordinarily may be. It’s not just personal filers who are at risk, though, as tax preparers are getting inundated with phishing scams at a higher rate than ever. That’s why this edition of PYN is going a little analogue and focusing on preventative measures for everybody’s favorite time of year- Tax Season.
It’s not just a star-studded WWII movie from back when action movie stars were actually badasses in real life (think Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, and Lee Marvin, just to name a few), it’s also the list of tax scams that the IRS just published as the year’s biggest threats. By my estimation, the list should be broken into two different categories, though, and because I’m writing this, we’re going to do just that.
Words are fun, especially when there’s alliteration involved. The items on this list are all actually scams where there is an unscrupulous tax-time predator and a target. Presumably, after reading this, that poor fool will be someone other than you, of course.
- Phone Scams – We know better than anyone else that phones are still the number one way to conduct business, legitimate or not. And just as Broadcast TV loses all of the headlines to streaming content but commands more in ad revenue, telephone scams also persist to rake in the cash for scammers with a silver tongue. Rule of thumb- any, ANY, unsolicited offer is one you don’t have to entertain until you’ve done some due diligence off of the phone.
- Phishing – This one is simple. The IRS, your doctor, HOA, or any other organization will never send out emails for you to update your personal tax and banking information. It never happens. Ever. So stop clicking those emails, please.
- Identify Theft – This isn’t really a scam relegated to tax season, just always be on the watch and “cover your pin keypad” so-to-speak. Keep your private information private.
- Return Preparer Fraud – This is a tough pill to swallow because it can create a chilling effect on our trust of professionals, but by staying with reputable, national or recommended tax preparers, you should be safe. If your preparer doesn’t have the proper credentials, they shouldn’t be handling your taxes.
- Inflated Refund Claims – If you see someone broadcasting a ridiculously high return number I refer you to number four.
- Fake Charities – Sometimes you have a bad year, sometimes you have a good year. When you have a good one you may look to “harvest losses” to offset your gains, if so, make sure you aren’t accepting unsolicited offers for charity (See number one) and that you give your hard earned money to an organization you really believe in and that won’t land you in hot water for claiming a fake charity.
The other half of the Dirty Dozen is really a bunch of tax “strategies” that really aren’t covered by the PYN umbrella. I’ve listed them below for posterity (and so I could make a new alliterative six-itemed list name, obviously) but a quick glance of them reveals that they are all products of decisions made by a tax filer, not a predator thereof. That said, don’t do these things, that would not be awesome.
- Hiding Income with Fake Documents
- Abusive Tax Shelters
- Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
- Excessive Claims for Fuel Tax Credits
- Frivolous Tax Arguments
- Offshore Tax Avoidance
That’s it for the cautionary portion of this edition of the VirtualPBX Security Serial, though I’m sure someone somewhere is hard at work right now giving us more material for the next one. The next thing you’ll want to focus on, however, is what to do with all of that hard-earned tax-return cheddar you’re going to be getting here shortly. I don’t have anything against jet-packs and Caribbean cruises, but we are also running a very limited, very special offer on all of our VoIP office phone equipment.
Sure it’s a great deal that probably won’t ever happen again, but you might also want to look into some capital investments in your business, you know, for tax purposes. As always, stay safe and remember to Protect ya Neck.
VoIP Phones: The Tools of the Trade
Posted on April 9, 2015 by Dan Quick
I like to ride my bike a lot. In fact, I even sold my car last year because I rarely even used it all that often and between riding, walking, Uber, and Zipcar I don’t even miss it. Of course, not having a car doesn’t mean that my mechanical needs are also a thing of the past. With chain and cable stretch, derailleur adjustments, tire wear, and a host of other odds and ends that need tweaking on a regular basis, I’d say I’m more involved with mechanics now than ever before. This means that I rely more and more on my local bike shop. The lesson? As long as I don’t have the tools or the knowhow to get the job done, I wont be totally self-sufficient.
Let’s say for a moment that I happened to know how to do everything on my bike from rewrapping the handle bar tape to replacing a squeaky bottom bracket (for the record, I don’t). That’s a nice fantasy, but it wouldn’t mean a thing if I didn’t have all of the highly specialized tools it takes to get the job done. That’s a lot like how it is to work on a highly sophisticated hosted telephone system.
We’re pretty proud that we can offer you a hosted business telephone service that has been recognized by the industry for leading in both innovation and service. What we don’t have control over, though, is what equipment you use when you sign-up for our service. While there is certainly no shortage of desk and conference VoIP phone options out there, just like how a hammer wouldn’t be an ideal substitution for a torque wrench on any bike, the wrong phone can take the shine out of your telephone service. That’s why we have carefully selected equipment from the multitude of options to offer you premium products to make the most out of your industry-leading business phone service.
What’s even a better deal, though, is that to mark the end of a long winter for many of our customers, we’ve taken our equipment offerings and sweetened them a little. In addition to distilling the entire universe of VoIP phone equipment into a handful of value-packed options, we’re offering them all for a discount, while supplies last. Yes, springtime is about more than just cleaning house and rebirth and all that jazz, now it’s also about saving 10% on these virtually future-proof, cutting-edge VoIP phones. Also, because we wouldn’t want anyone to have the wrong tools, even if they don’t (yet) subscribe to our service, anyone is eligible for these savings!
To get the skinny on how to save today and take advantage of this limited offer, you can get all of the details here or you can contact our award-winning Support Team for any other questions you may have, too.
Who knows? Maybe with all of the time you and your team will save by switching to VoIP service and telephones from VirtualPBX, you might even be dusting off your own bike for a ride. If you do, just remember to not mistake your chain tensioner for your teleconferencer or vice versa. Keep the rubber side down!
Best Buddies Challenge
Posted on April 6, 2015 by Lon Baker
In September, myself and a team from VirtualPBX are taking up a rewarding and worthy challenge to ride, run, or walk down the California coast and fundraise for Best Buddies International Hearst Castle. I’ve been honored to participate in the annual event in the past and what a huge challenge it is!
The event raises vital funds for Best Buddies International – an independent, non-government organization working for a future without poverty. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,900 middle school, high school, and college campuses around the world. The programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States and on six continents, positively impacting 900,000
individuals each year.
Our team is hoping to raise over $10k to help Best Buddies International create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are especially excited to participate alongside Best Buddies, it’s so rewarding to see the direct impact our actions make and to know that our fundraising can provide even more possibilities for these buddies, and those in need of support around the globe.
My team and I will be putting in the miles and hope that you can support us in this challenge. Please support us with a donation through our team page and by referring us to others.
You can make a secure, tax deductible donation through our team page here: http://goo.gl/caarAV
Thank you for supporting us in this challenge. Whatever your contribution, big or small, it means a lot to us. Your help will mean a lot to Best Buddies International and the communities they work with as well. If you would like to know more about Best Buddies International, or are interested in starting a team of your own, visit their website here.
COO, VirtualPBX.com Inc.
On Demand for Customers, On the Clock for Providers
Posted on April 3, 2015 by Dan Quick
Consumers expect content and services unique to their needs delivered to them on their schedules more today than ever before. It used to be that a pizza delivery was about as close to on demand, customized service that most people could expect. Now, though, mobile technology and ever-increasingly sophisticated information management are combining to create an unprecedented land rush for developers all trying to be first to market with more on-demand applications.
Ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft are becoming more of the norm everyday, but now with services like Handy and TaskRabbit, consumers can get everything from help packing for a move to a wrench for their leaky faucets 24 hours a day. For people who don’t want to limit their at-home dining options to only restaurants that have delivery in their area, there is even Eat24 which has over 20,000 take-out options across the country and on-demand delivery.
As long as there is an opportunity to make an experience more user-centric, consumers will grow continuously disenchanted with services that don’t meet their exact specifications. Though this trend has been the purview of areas like streaming content and on-demand housework, it is likely to affect how utilities and other professional services begin operating soon, too.
Exemplary of the made-to-order economy are hosted telephone service companies. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is likely the best, non-consumable vertical to employ on-demand offerings to customers. The flexibility inherent in any hosted phone system far surpasses that of any physical PBX from traditional phone carriers, but innovative companies are taking that one step further.
With near limitless options in how systems are configured, products like SelectRoute and GeoRoute from VirtualPBX are designed exactly to cater to businesses that don’t want to simply order off of a menu of features, but want to design something to fit their company’s appetite as they see fit. With so many different ways to customize VoIP systems, specifically with routing options dispersed and field-based businesses with dispersed and employees, VirtualPBX is tapping into the pulse of consumers with their custom options. To learn how your business can get exactly what it needs, exactly the way you want it, you can get in touch with the award-winning service professionals at VirtualPBX, today.