Get Your Greetings Ready for 6 More Weeks of Winter

Image from Flickr user AlicePopkorn

It’s a snowy February once again for us here in New England. Lately, it seems like we’re stuck in a pattern: we get a big snowstorm right after we’ve finished clearing out from the one before. I blame the groundhog for proclaiming another 6 weeks of winter!

Right now, before another storm comes, is the best time to get your company’s Auto Attendant greetings in place and ready to go. You can create an inclement weather greeting and save it in the Announcement Repository ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to change it at the last minute. The original greeting will be automatically saved in the Announcement Repository for later use.

The Announcement Repository is just the beginning. There’s more you can do to prepare ahead of time, and the DSCI Support Center has all of the guides you will need to make it happen!

  • How to change your voice mail message while out of the office.
  • How to forward the phones when your office is closed.
  • Have you set up your company’s holiday schedule for 2017 yet?
  • Running out to the store for milk and bread… unfortunately, we can’t help with that.

The DSCI Support Center is a great resource for the company administrator. You can bookmark the links above so the information is at your fingertips.

There is enough stress when the snowflakes fly. Don’t let updating your greetings be one of them. DSCI’s Customer Care Team is always available to assist.

Winter – Crazy Weather Patterns Abound!

Image from Flickr user topsteph53

The winter season is bringing many types of weather throughout the USA. In California, January has brought heavy rains. In the Northeast this year, we’ve had a mixed bag of snow, rain, ice and spring-like 50 degree days. Other states have had everything in between.

Inclement weather can make our jobs in the Repair department challenging. Copper facilities are susceptible to rain. Blizzards may cause power outages and an increase in requests to update weather greetings. Service Ticket volumes definitely increase.

We have started some exciting discussions regarding our nationwide support with our TelePacific colleagues. East Coast and West Coast disaster coverage and back-up plans are key. We are brainstorming the possibilities for our 7X24 coverage and overflow calls between our customer care repair teams. We will be calling upon many of the experts in all facets of our company to ensure that we design a solution that allows all teams to provide the excellent customer support that we’re known for. It is exciting!

Now that February is here, depending where you live, you might react to the weather differently. If you’re on the West Coast, you could be heading out to enjoy the sun. For those of us in New England, it’ll likely be winter activities like skiing, sledding or snowman building. Have fun!

Managed Firewalls

firewall_web

It’s hard to ignore cyber-security these days. Major security breaches are in the news on a near-daily basis, and criminals are concocting increasingly deceptive methods to get the data they want. Most likely, your organization already has measures in place to reduce these threats – it would be a severe risk to the business if you didn’t.

A firewall is par for the course these days, but the way it’s managed doesn’t have to be. Some organizations take a “set it and forget it” approach to their network security, but this won’t allow them to keep up with the alarmingly fast pace of cyber-threat evolution. Consider, for example, these statistics for the year 2015 (source):

  • +125% increase in zero-day vulnerabilities in browsers and website plugins
  • +35% increase in ransomware, targeting both desktops and smartphones
  • Unpatched vulnerabilities found in about 75% of all legitimate websites

A healthy, up-to-date firewall is your organization’s first line of defense from this increasing flood of threats. That’s why DSCI’s ITx for Managed Firewalls service is not just about security – it’s about the benefits of effectively managing this critical edge device in your organization’s network.

Our Managed Services team monitors your appliance for high CPU utilization, high memory utilization, and current up/down status of the WAN port on the firewall.  Our systems alert when these are not within normal thresholds, allowing us to proactively identify and resolve the cause of these issues – often before your end-users notice any performance degradation.

As your organization’s needs evolve, the firewall needs to evolve too.  At DSCI, we make these configuration changes upon your request. This saves you the time and resources you’d need to understand the fundamentals of a firewall, or to “re-learn” how the device works in order to implement a new policy, NAT rule, or filtering group.

With the Optimum service level of ITx for Managed Firewalls, we’ll also manage UTM services (anti-virus, anti-spam, web filtering, application control, and WAN optimization) which are increasingly becoming the industry standard in the marketplace.

The technology landscape is constantly changing, and so too are the potential security threats against your business. Contact DSCI to schedule a free consultation and learn how ITx for Managed Firewalls can keep your business safe.

We’re Coming…

Rugby players charging ahead on the field

Image from Flickr user phgaillard2001

From Los Angeles, California to Portland, Maine.

From St. Louis, Missouri to Denver, Colorado.

From Las Vegas, Nevada to Dallas, Texas.

From Boston, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California.

One hundred and twenty days after our merger we have banded together. Sixteen hundred strong. Best team, best services, best service.

We are coming to the aid of the enterprise customer who is seeking integrated and powerful hosted voice and managed services that span the country.

We are coming to deliver a premier partnership for all agents who are dedicated to getting the best for their loyal clients.

We are coming to recruit more seasoned A-Players to join the best team in the business.

Monolithic, consolidation-crazed incumbents – we are coming for your customers – who are tired of being ignored and taken for granted.

Who are we? You will soon know us by our new name. In the meantime, know that we are coming…

5 Tips to Successful Video Calling

With UCx, you have the power to instantly start an HD video call from your computer, desk phone, or mobile phone. But with great power comes great responsibility! Here are five tips to help you have the most successful video call possible.

1. Make eye contact.
Try to keep your eyes on your device’s camera, not on the screen, while speaking. This can be very difficult to do, since you’ll instinctively want to direct your eye contact to the person you see on the screen. But if you can pull it off, you won’t look like you’re staring off in to space!

2. Dress for success.
Now, I’m not saying you have to get your hair done or wear your finest suit every time you expect to be on video. But you can choose your everyday attire thoughtfully. Solid, muted colors generally look best on-screen. If possible, avoid wearing bright colors (including white) and busy patterns. I definitely recommend that you leave that neon plaid shirt at home.

3. Angle the camera correctly.
Make sure your camera is level with your face, especially if you’re using UCx on a laptop or smartphone. No one – I repeat, NO ONE – wants to see up your nose, and that’s the unflattering angle your callers will see if you angle the camera up towards your face.

4. Consider your background.
What will your callers see behind you? This may not be a concern if you’re in a conference room, but it will come into play if you’re calling in from your desk, at home, or on the road. So turn off those blinking Christmas lights that are hanging on your cubicle wall, because it’s going to be a huge distraction to your caller… and besides, the twelve days of Christmas are over now.

Screenshot of UCx video call

I didn’t follow my own rule. Maybe I should take that zombie warning sign down.

5. See the light.
If you’re near a window or a lamp, you may need to adjust them so you’re lighted properly. Too much light behind you and you’ll look all shadowy, like you’re in a witness protection program – and I’m sure that’s not a look you want to convey.

These five tips may seem trivial, but they’ll all add up to a professional appearance and a thoughtful demeanor. Practice these skills and everyone who calls you will be impressed with what they see on the screen.

2016 Was Not So Bad! It Brought Us These 5 Tech Breakthroughs

In the final weeks of 2016, it seemed like everyone wanted to lament about how it was the worst year ever. In fact, this has been such a widespread phenomenon that NPR weighed in by asking Should We All Just Stop Calling 2016 ‘The Worst’? Well, my answer to that question is an enthusiastic YES. Now that 2016 is officially over, let’s give it a proper send-off and start recognizing it for the good year that it really was.

Since DSCI is a technology company after all, let’s focus on just a few of the amazing tech breakthroughs that 2016 brought us.

    • Power over Wi-Fi. Imagine having a smart smoke detector that’s powered over wi-fi, so it never needs its batteries changed… that’s undoubtedly life-saving technology.
    • Transmit passwords through your body. Hold a doorknob with a smart lock in one hand, touch the fingerprint scanner on your smartphone in the other, and this technology will securely transmit your password through your body.
    • Augmented reality. There was far more to Pokemon Go than trying to catch an elusive Pikachu. This summer’s blockbuster game ushered in a new way for users and apps to interact.

Image from Flickr user ajturner

I have no doubt that 2017 will bring even more excitement and wonder! What was your favorite new tech from 2016, and what do you think 2017 holds in store for all of us?

The Most Effective Security Layer is Still An Educated User

business-collageMost end users in this day and age are considered savvy when it comes to basic computing in the workplace. Users are better able to do their work and manage through their days without assistance from the helpdesk.  Computers and software are evolving, but it doesn’t appear we as end users are motivated to evolve with them.

In the last 12 months, nearly every system I have seen infected by one of these threats has been allowed by a user that didn’t see the threat coming.  They believed they were just doing what their computer told them a million times to do: install a patch, a browser plugin, an app, or approve some security setting so they can proceed. Users are not looking at security as an offensive game.  Many still see it as the responsibility of their protective software and their IT teams.  We have been trained to expect to install things to allow us to continue doing what we were trying to do without question, and thus intrinsically trust the computer to take care of itself.

Times have changed. We cannot trust the computer or the anti-virus software to protect us. We need to be active participants in protecting ourselves from being exploited.  As IT professionals, we need to take the extra step in re-training our users to recognize threats in their many forms. As users, we need to recognize that, for better or worse, it is in our best interest to not trust that what’s in front of us is true, needed, or necessary.

Talk to people about all the different ways a computer can be compromised.  This will help put them into a defensive posture and might just help spot a rogue link or unexpected email.  Empower them to verify when they are being asked to install things until they are able to recognize friend from foe.

Educate them on what protective software is installed and how it works.  Help them understand what popups are supposed to look like for your company’s IT products and services. Show them what some of the common tricks are to get them to click on things they shouldn’t.

Show people how malicious code impacts their lives. Most of the time we are removed from the impact by the IT team that dutifully works to recover from the infection. Do a post mortem to really understand the time and money lost each time something gets through.  Put a value on it in terms people will understand, whether it is a dollar value, the number of hours spent, or even the bitcoin you have had to pay to recover irreplaceable data. Find a way to help people understand the true cost of infections.

One great example was a company that had a simple infection of a crypto virus from a now shut-down ransomware network. It encrypted 20,000,000 files over a long weekend.  Had they not been able to recover from backup, it would have ended the company. The total price tag would have been tens of millions of dollars lost along with 200 jobs. Happily, since their re-training efforts a year ago, they have not had a single infection since.

Our Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

Image from Flickr user joannapoe

2016 is drawing to a close, and you know what that means… time for another end-of-the-year countdown! Here are DSCI’s top five blog posts of the year. Did your favorite make the list?

  1. It’s Unified Communications

“I am really getting tired of hearing people talk about Unified Communications (UC) as if it is some kind of PBX replacement product! It’s really a collection of communication software applications that can all share common connectivity, user information (such as identity and user availability/presence), and reach methods.”

  1. DDOS is No Match for DSCI

“What is the best kind of Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack? The kind you don’t even know happened.”

  1. Back to Vegas

“Vegas always attracts the risk-takers, but these folks are different. They challenge the status quo not by playing baccarat in the high-stakes lounge, but by continually reinventing themselves and their customers with the latest in technology that solves business problems.”

  1. DSCI Introduces ITx for Coffee Machines

“Your coffee maker is the foundation on which your business is built. If this critical business asset is not properly monitored and maintained, productivity can plummet due to car naps and coffee runs.” Did we mention this one was an April Fool’s joke? 🙂

  1. The Verizon Strike and You

“As you may be aware, the unionized wireline workforce at Verizon went on strike on April 13th due to an inability to reach an agreement on a new contract. If you are a DSCI customer, you might be wondering: how does this impact me?”

P.S. – For a trip even further down memory lane, check out our top blog posts of 2015, 2013, and 2012. (Not sure what happened with 2014!)

Don’t Let the Toll Fraud Grinch Ruin Your Christmas!

Toll fraud impacts companies of all sizes, from small businesses to multi-million dollar corporations. According to the Communication Fraud Control Association, the estimated global fraud losses in 2015 were $38.1 billion. United States based businesses are the #1 target globally for toll fraud.

A company’s biggest vulnerability to toll fraud is the company’s own employees. Weak user passwords are the #1 cause of unauthorized toll usage.

To help our customers combat toll fraud, DSCI can provide our UCx customers a security scorecard on demand which identifies users with vulnerable passwords.

security scorecard

The Grinch

Image from Flickr user PhelanRiessen

Users with a weak password are marked with a red circle. Users with an acceptable password are marked with a green circle.

To get your security scorecard, you can contact our support team at 877-344-7441 or open a request via our online portal at dash.dscicorp.com.

Protect your company from the toll fraud Grinch and get your security scorecard today!

Redundancy, Network Failover, Continuity and Redundancy Planning

istock_000006168188smallAs services continue to become more cloud-based, the importance of accessing these services becomes more critical. If you only have one Internet connection, your business is extremely reliant on that connection. If something happens to take that connection down, whether it be weather-related (like snow, sleet or ice) or due to human error (like crashing into a pole or digging up conduit), your business suffers. Getting a secondary Internet connection, even if it is only to be used in the event of a primary circuit failure, is a good business decision and will help ease your mind.

DSCI offers and supports many different types of failover configurations. We offer SRV failover for our MPLS voice customers, which allows our phones to register over our MPLS connection primarily and failover to a public SBC if there is an MPLS connection failure. We have Adtran routers configured with track and probes to monitor connection status and offer failover routing. We do the same thing with IP SLAs on Cisco routers. Our ITx for Managed Firewalls product offers multiple flavors of failover options. One of our newest products is SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) through VeloCloud. We believe this is the future of connection optimization, failover, and carrier agnostic QOS. We are looking forward to rolling this out to more of our customers so we can make their networks more efficient as well as more fault tolerant.

In addition to the hardware and configuration decisions, there are many other factors to think about when developing your disaster recovery plan. Carrier diversity, circuit path diversity, and transport diversity are just a few of the items that should be discussed. You should also work to minimize or eliminate single points of failure. Our ITx team is full of experts ready to assist you with a customized solution that fits your unique business needs.

Please give us a call at 866-GET-DSCI (866-438-3724) so we can assist with making your business more efficient and more durable. Bonus points go to anyone that calls in and notes how comical this redundant title is. 🙂