Posted on October 31, 2017 by Dan Quick
You already know that we love Halloween but some of you may not know that we are so fired up about our favorite holiday, that we decided to open the crypt to your benefit. Well, that’s only if by crypt, you mean our list of recommended VoIP phones and devices. Semantics aside, the point is that if you’re current office phones are older than the pyramids, than it’s way past time to send them to the tombs where they can their eternal unrest. This is truer now than ever because we’re offering Buy-One-Get-One Free on VoIP Phones, but only until the end of today! That’s right, when the clock strikes 12 tonight, Pacific Time, all of these deals will crawl back into the night, never to be seen again! To help you make your decision on why it’s time to get a new VoIP phone this Halloween, I’ve put together the following holiday non-sequiturs to use around the office that will help get the wheels moving.
How to Get a New BOGO VoIP Phone, Halloween Style
Because the BOGO deal ends tonight, you need to act fast. Use these phrases to help strike up a conversation about why ut’s time to get a new phone.
- I can’t boo-lieve there’s a cobweb on my phone. I mean, it’s so old I thought that would have petrified by now!
- If I was a ghost, I’d be terrible at lying… because you could see right through me! That’s why I’m being serious, we really need to update our phones here.
- You know why our old office phones make me want to eat dessert? Because every time I think about how old they are, I SCREAM! Get it? The phones are old.
- What’s a ghost’s favorite pasta? Spooketi! Hey, I need a new phone.
- Do you know what you get when you mix a cocker spaniel, a poodle, and a ghost? You get a cocker poodle BOO! But seriously, I had to tell that joke three times on the phone before the person on the other line heard me right. We should probably get some new phones.
- I love it when Halloween and casual Friday fall on the same day. Because then I get to wear BOO-jeans! Hey, so about those new phones…
- What did the ghost say to the other ghost? No, seriously, they were using these old phones, I honestly have no idea because they need to be updated.
- You know why demons and ghouls always hang out together? Because demons are a ghoul’s best friend! For real, if we don’t take advantage of this awesome BOGO deal on phones, we’re doing ourselves, our customers, and our business a great disservice. Let’s call Bob in accounting and get it settled out before the deal ends.
The Clock is Ticking
Obviously, some of those will be more naturally integrated into the conversation than others, but the point is that you need to get moving if you want to take advantage of these great deals. Also, remember that you can recycle your old office phones and all of your electronic waste using our helpful Hardware Recycling Guide, too. This way we make sure that there are harmful chemicals nor toxic leaks in our communities to make any real monsters from the blue lagoons come looking for us after this sale.
Remember to act fast, have fun, and be the best demons you can be this and every Halloween! And from all of us at VirtualPBX, we hope your night is filled with frightfully fun and safe trick-or-treating!
Posted on October 27, 2017 by Charlie Galaviz
Welcome to Edition 19.0 of The VirtualPBX 5 where we share our favorite topics, gadgets, and apps!
Love them or hate them, chatbots are the next wave of communications between businesses and consumers. What makes chatbots special? For starters, chatbots use complex artificial intelligence systems to exchange messages and voice communications with humans. Due to recent strides in technology, chatbots are being used to deliver actual business results. From generating new subscribers and traffic to delivering fast customer support, chatbots are jacks of all trades. But don’t let their complexity make you shy away from getting started. You won’t need a computer science degree or a coding background to build one. In fact, almost anyone can do it. If you are thinking about deploying a chatbot for your company, here are the 5 best chatbot platforms that require no coding experience.
5 Best Chatbot Platforms that Require no Coding
ManyChat’s claim to fame is allowing builders to create a bot in as little as 2 minutes. It comes as no surprise that it is the chatbot platform of choice for many entrepreneurs and freelancers. ManyChat’s user-friendly platform makes it extremely easy to do just about everything. If you are looking to level up your marketing, sales, and support on Facebook, look no further.
More than 46,000 chatbots have been created using ChatFuel. If you are looking for a big name platform that has all the bells and whistles, ChatFuel is the bot builder for you. It also doesn’t hurt that it comes packed with integrations to your favorite services. If it’s good enough for the world’s leading enterprise companies, it must really be that good.
Chatty People’s commitment to business features make it a really attractive choice for small businesses and entrepreneurs that need custom solutions. Ever heard of a company named Slack? Build a Slack bot or a Facebook bot and integrate them with leading payment solutions. And when you want to see how your chatbot is performing, their analytics will tell you just what you’re doing right or wrong.
Engati allows you build a bot in as fast as 10 minutes. Which is not nearly as impressive as ManyChat, but here’s the kicker. Engati supports 8 major messaging platforms – which include Messenger, Slack, kik, Viber, Skype, and more. We also respect the fact that they take support very seriously. Engati offers easy chatbot training, multi-platform support, and 365 x 24 x 7 support.
Botsify does not waste any time getting down to business. With Botsify you can completely automate live chat sales all with the goal of generating new leads. If you are losing a deal, feel free to take over and win the deal. If you are looking for the most conversational website bot builder you’ve found it.
Ready to reap the benefits of your first bot but wary about missing the human touch? By no means are we advocating that chatbots replace your employees. P2P relationships are sacred in business. But if we’re talking about filling gaps in sales and support hours, or finding a better alternative to OOO email greetings, then chatbots may be the solution your business needs.
We hope you enjoyed our 5 best chatbot platforms. If you did, be sure to check out the VirtualPBX blog for more of our favorite topics, gadgets, and apps. We would also love to hear any chatbot builder suggestions on Facebook and Twitter!
Posted on October 24, 2017 by Dan Quick
Network remediation is one of the largest service components for telecommunications services companies and it provides remedies for the challenges facing a business communications network. Because modern business communications systems are often totally or partially reliant on the cloud to power their operations, as the name suggests, these services often revolve around network connections in identifying, diagnosing, and ultimately resolving any underlying issues. Network remediation services can take several different forms, but they generally fit into one of three different categories that we outline below.
Establishing Healthy Network Connections
This first stage of network remediation is less of a correction and more of a prevention. By conducting thorough network assessments prior to installing complex communications systems, many problems that can result from capacity or threshold limitations can be avoided altogether. One way to ensure this is by leveraging Network Bandwidth Services that can broker network provisions on the behalf of businesses. This is a way to garner greater minimum bandwidth levels and often at process below what are typically advertised. Another way to help prevent network problems before remediation is required is to conduct periodic Network Health Checks as a business grows and evolves to ensure that the network it is on can handle any increases in activity. More than a simple VoIP speed test, Network Health Checks look at the holistic use of a business’ network to account for ebbs and flows of activity throughout the course of a typical workday and work week.
Maintaining Healthy Network Connections
Another category of the network remediation family tree is maintenance. Once you’ve got the assurance that your network is ideal for your business needs, you can just fire it up and never look back without a care, right? Not exactly. Because networks require an element of maintenance and observation to guarantee long-term health, an element of professional Network Monitoring is highly recommended. This service will keep firmware and software updates current and will constantly monitor the behavior and health of the entire array of network devices and portals. Another, more involved service that accounts for this and even addresses the composition of the communications services that the network supports is a full-fledged Concierge Service that is effectively like having a professional network engineer on your team. Either method, though, will ensure the ongoing and lasting health of a communications network.
The third and final category of network remediation services is the one where most businesses would hope to avoid at all costs. This is the point where problems like VoIP jitter, voice lag, packet loss, and any other of a variety of connections issues arise. But because relatively few companies will employ the above pair of preventative measures to avoid network limitations impacting their communications, this is not an uncommon problem for businesses to encounter at all. When true communications problems arise, Network Remediation and Troubleshooting is essential to get an office back up and running. The potential list of areas where an issue could exist is lengthy, so commercial network remediation techniques are rather expansive and can be time-consuming. That underscores the importance of taking preventative measures beforehand, but it also provides the peace of mind that no network problems go unnoticed or misdiagnosed at this vital stage. Also, there is one particular service for network remediation that is available to businesses anywhere, regardless of the size of their networks, the nature of their challenges, and even regardless of who their underlying service provider is. VoIP Clear Fix Service is truly the gold standard for network remediation and its award-winning success rate is the bar by which all other remediation services are measured. Plus, because it doesn’t matter where a business gets their network or their communications services, it really is an option for any business, anywhere.
No matter where in these three stages a business may find itself in its journey to securing a healthy, effective, and reliable telecommunications network, there are solutions available. Another point to mention is that, though all of these problems are frustrating, they are correctable. Nothing should stand in the way of a business securing the fastest and most reliable hosted communications network it wants, and the above battery of network remediation services is sometimes the fastest, or only, way to get there.
Posted on October 19, 2017 by Dan Quick
For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.
This edition of the Partner Blog Series comes to us from Don Harold of Dead Drop Software, the online collaboration tool that allows for safe communications and secure file-sharing. Here he covers some of the dangers of computer viruses, how they are commonly contracted, and ways to avoid letting one ruin your network.
How to Secure Your Company Data Without Expensive Antivirus Programs
What are you doing to protect your company data from the prying eyes of hackers? Are you confident enough to say that your data are well protected and nothing can ever break your wall of security? If you’re not sure, perhaps you should ask yourself these four questions-
- Does your company send files and images out to clients?
- Are Google Drive and Dropbox a common tool you’re using for exchanging documents?
- Do you frequently use email to connect with your clients, teams and other connections?
- Do you regularly download files sent to you via email?
If you’re doing even just one of the listed above, then it’s time to think twice.
To secure your data, it’s often believed that you need an expensive antivirus program. Many such programs aren’t the blanket protection you’d expect, however, much less are they the only way to combat malicious software attacks. In fact, you can actually live without an antivirus and still keep your data safe. Before we get into that, though, we should first examine some of the biggest attacks in recent history.
Here are some of the notorious viruses as listed by Sharon Weinberger, Executive Editor of Foreign Policy:
- ILOVEYOU In the year 2000, a Filipino man named Onel de Guzman launched this epic virus as an email message with a subject line “ILOVEYOU” with an attached file entitled “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. People fell into the trap and opened the file thinking it might be a love confession for them. The virus caused an estimated US$5.5 – 8.7 billion damages worldwide affecting 10% of all Internet-connected computers back then.
- Code Red In 2001, a computer worm was launched. Computers running Microsoft’s IIS web server were attacked leading the worm to take down some websites, including the White House website. The virus caused over $2 billion in losses.
- Stuxnet Originally named as VirusBlokAda, this malicious computer worm was specifically created to cause real damage to Iran’s nuclear program, in the year 2009. It ruined about 1/5th of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges making the machines spin out of control and tear themselves apart.
- Other scandalous viruses include Conficker Virus, agent.btz, Zeus, and WannaCry.
Hopefully, you weren’t affected by any of these, but perhaps you’ve had run-ins with less prolific viruses. In fact, it’s very possible that’s the case because a virus is essentially any type of malware. Malware (malicious software) is software written specifically to disable, damage, or harm computers and computer systems. Common malware types are the virus, adware, spyware, worms, trojan, and ransomware. A computer virus is a malware type that is capable of cloning or replicating itself by modifying or changing computer programs and spreads over the system, destroying and corrupting data and the computer system itself. And viruses have the destructive ability to delete and corrupt files and change the way your computer operates. Viruses are lethal! They can cause you thousands of dollars, if not millions, of damages.
How Can an Antivirus Program Protect Your Data?
Antivirus programs protect a computer system from cyber attacks and computer viruses while online. They’re made for data security scanning and detecting viruses from files and websites. Antivirus programs can be run automatically or manually, making sure there are no viruses lingering on your computer and data. But, antivirus programs also come with a price, and some of the most commonly used antiviruses are truly expensive. Considering that antivirus protection may not be enough to keep you away from harm, is it really worth it?
Rob Verger, assistant tech editor at PopSci said on his PopSci article that:
Your antivirus software is not enough. “Prevention is the main function of an antivirus software. Some antivirus program can delete downloaded viruses, but not necessarily all viruses as some are other types of malware as mentioned above (adware, spyware, worms, trojan, and ransomware). One needs to acquire a malware remover to work side by side with an antivirus software.”
Learning the common culprits of this destructive malware is the first step to achieving maximum security. Rick Broida, writer of CNET’s Cheapskate blog listed these as the two main culprits of malware:
- Unsafe Links Email is likely doing your business more harm than good. In emails, most of the time, we receive phishing emails with unsafe links. For example, the groundbreaking ILOVEYOU virus came from an email spread over to millions of people worldwide. Similarly, links are largely sent through emails and when people click on it, it can run an installation of malware/s to a computer.
- Spyware-infested downloads Websites offering free software downloads are rampant. And that’s where some malware are secretly hiding and some are confidently joining with other download buttons, confusing innocent visitors. Once you click on the fake download button, the malware is downloaded. And you know what happens next.
How To Secure Your Data Without Using Antivirus
- Use Dead Drop Software Because some of the malware come from unsafe links sent via email, minimize email use. Consider using a different messaging system that can protect you from online attacks and malware. Dead Drop Software is an online collaboration tool that allows for safe communication, secure file-sharing, and easy project collaboration. With Dead Drop, you’re hitting not just two birds, but three birds at the same time! This cloud-based software was built with bank-level security using data encryption for both data in transit and at rest within the platform. You would merely need an internet connection and a web browser to securely use the software. Plus, it comes with other amazing features such as tasks and project management, document management, team collaboration and so much more.
- Practice secure browsing habits Always be vigilant before you click anything online and practice secure browsing habits. There are available tools online that would allow you to mouseover the link first and see a preview of its content first before you go click and go to the website. There’s SearchPreview for Chrome users and HoverSee, to name a few. Or use an ad blocker, Adblock for example, for Chrome and Safari users. It blocks and prevents advertisements from showing up on any websites, thus protecting you from culprit #2. From Lifehacker:
“Adblock Plus is one of the most robust browser extensions out there, and while its namesake is its most-used feature, it’s not just about blocking ads. In fact, you can do all sorts of things with it, including cleaning up Facebook’s interface and making sure websites aren’t tracking you.”
Also, be careful what you download and never click a link or open an attachment from someone you don’t know and always have second thoughts before you download or click forwarded emails with attachments or links.
- Backup, backup, backup If you’re using Dead Drop Software, you probably won’t need data backup since the software does not have storage and bandwidth limits. Anyone with an account can post and share as many files as they want. Make sure to always backup your data in the cloud and locally.
- Up to date systems Updates on applications are mostly to fix bugs and for performance improvements. One way to keep safe is to maintain an up-to-date system by updating your applications, hardware, and software regularly. Danny Stieben, from MUO (Make Use Of) says:
“The next step is to make sure that all your software, especially your browser, is up to date. Newer versions will fix security bugs that may be present in older versions, and updates could also bring support for new security technologies. That way, it will be much harder for a hacker or virus to exploit a security hole to compromise your system.”
Create strong passwords Creating complex and strong passwords will not only help you secure your data but will also protect you from hackers. Also, do not reuse your passwords across different accounts. Once an account has been hacked, if you’re using the same or similar passwords for other accounts, the hacker can easily see a pattern and eventually hack your critical data. Gary Davis, a Chief Consumer Security Evangelist suggested this:
“… check to see if your online accounts offer multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. So, to log into an account you may need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase.”
- Use a firewall A firewall is a network security, categorized as either software and hardware, that protects and monitors outgoing and incoming network traffic establishing a wall or a barrier between trusted and unauthorized communication on computer hosts or networks. Other software firewalls are built-in in some operating systems. If you have a built-in firewall, make sure to always turn it on. However, if you don’t have one, you might want to consider buying a hardware firewall. It is wise to use a firewall to keep you invisible on the internet, blocking unauthorized communications from untrusted sources.
- Make sure to overwrite your deleted files Because data that is deleted from a computer isn’t ever technically gone forever, the best way to really ensure that your old data is gone forever is to overwrite it. Or if you’ve decided not to use the old hard drive and utilize other means of data backup instead, you may want to opt on totally destroying the device physically like using a chainsaw perhaps.
- Spread the news Teach and educate your employees about the suggested ways above. Data security cannot be achieved by only one person’s efforts, but everybody’s efforts. Educating your employees will not only protect your company from data breach and cyber attacks but will also build a team effort protection. Plus, a bit of education is always less expensive than paying for the repair of virus-infected systems.
Acquiring and using an antivirus software to secure your company data is never a bad option as it vastly reduces chances of suffering malware attacks. But, it is always wise and smart to be vigilant and incorporate using the tips above to get maximum data security even without using antivirus. So while the threat of viruses is about 100% likely to be an insufficient deterrent to keeping people from going online, it persists nonetheless. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you follow these tips, keep safe distance between your connected devices and bad actors, update all of your hardware and software, and most importantly, if you have questions about network security that you can’t answer internally, contact a Network Monitoring expert to see what your situation is and how to improve it.
What do you think? Do you feel secure using an antivirus program? Or are you not even using one at all? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to stay tuned for more from the Partner Blog Series.
Posted on October 17, 2017 by Dan Quick
Many companies looking to save money on their overhead come to us asking what is an Auto Attendant. At the most basic level, Auto Attendants are literally automated facsimiles of an in-office receptionist that will route callers to the appropriate parties. We’ve been fortunate enough to provided thousands of businesses with the cost-savings of Auto Attendants, Follow Me Calling, and the rest of the features that are unique to VoIP plans like Dash. Last week, we discussed how companies save money by hiring an at home receptionist, which is a good segue into another option to streamline operations; Auto Attendants.
How do Auto Attendants Compare to Real Receptionists?
Auto Attendants can do mostly everything that you’d expect from any in-office equivalent though they operate as an integrated feature within a VoIP phone plan. Because Auto Attendants are digital programs, though, they don’t offer the same coverage for businesses that rely on inbound foot traffic as much as they do inbound call traffic. For companies that aren’t reliant on having a receptionist to field both calls and walk-ins, however, VoIP-based Auto Attendants are more than sufficient. In fact, because Auto Attendants are programs, they’ll never need vacation time, bathroom breaks, and they don’t mind working overtime. Heck, they’ll even operate on a 24-hour window with only a few clicks of the mouse. Of course, we aren’t suggesting that you can replace all of the joys of a member of your team with a computer, but from a strictly functionality standpoint, Auto Attendants are excellent at giving your callers repeatable and consistently good experiences.
So How do Auto Attendants Work?
Much like all of your own business decisions, Auto Attendants will work as you desire them to. All of the features of an enterprise grade VoIP system like Dash are totally customizable to your exact specifications. That means that you can rotate pre-recorded greetings to coincide with holidays, promotions, or even emergency events. You can also arrange for clear, quick, and efficient extensions to be introduced early in the call, and you can even offer bilingual recordings if your market benefits from them, as well. The core functions of the Auto Attendant system are all designed to make the inbound call experience as smooth and effortless as possible, all while retaining the branding and personality that best presents your company to the public. And because Auto Attendant is powered by cloud-based communications, all of its duties can be accessed and manages remotely, from anywhere there is an internet or data connection.
While the Auto Attendant can’t also chit chat about the game last night or weekend plans, yet, we are always working on improving all of our core features. You can add any recommendations to existing services and even get a glimpse of what we have on the horizon, as well, all by checking out our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap on Trello. Or, you can always fee free to let us know directly on Twitter or Facebook, too. Either way, we hope that next time you hear someone ask, “What is an Auto Attendant?” you’ll be able to point them in the right direction.