Author Archives: InfoStructure

Tips for Choosing a Hosted PBX System

Consider Total Cost

hosted-pbxOn-premise telephone systems typically require a large upfront investment, while hosted systems are paid for with more affordable, monthly payments. Buyers should consider the total cost of ownership of these systems in addition to the initial capital necessary to purchase a new phone network.

The Value of Specific vs. Bundled Functionality

Today, the technical capabilities of hosted and on-premise PBX systems are largely equal. One difference, however, is how these features are bundled. Hosted PBX providers commonly bundle features and charge a set per-user price. On-premise PBX, on the other hand, often provides buyers greater flexibility on the features and functionality they want to pay for (particularly, offering more customization for specific users).

Ease of Customization

Customization is often attainable with on-premise systems, as an on-staff IT professional commonly oversees the system’s deployment and management. With hosted systems, customization is often handled by the provider. While vendors may offer some customization, they are often unable to make extreme customizations for every customer. If your system requires advanced customization, on-premise PBX may be a more reasonable option. If choosing a hosted option, work with a vendor to discuss the exact customizations you need and what they can offer.

True Costs of Tech Support

If you currently don’t have an IT team, then hosted PBX can potentially save your company from having to hire technical staff members. However, you should also consider how relying on third-party support works with your company’s current strategies. If your telephone system is critical to your business, you should be very comfortable with your vendor that will be responsible for system support.

The InfoStructure Solution

InfoStructure’s Hosted PBX (infoPBX) features lower costs, scalability, and elimination of costly PBX maintenance. Our Cloud based platform is designed for medium and small business phone systems. infoPBX integrates your desktop phone with your computer and provides you with a wide range of voice applications, and because these applications are hosted in the cloud, there is no need for you to purchase a system, cards, server or software. The applications are bundled in three different price plans and offered as a managed service that is billed monthly.

To find out more about Infostructure infoPBX and other products and services we provide, visit our website at www.infostructure.net, email us at sales@infostructure.net or call us at 541.773.5000.

Save Your Business Money with an InfoStructure Hosted PBX Phone System

InfoStructure Hosted PBXOur Hosted PBX Phone Systems feature lower costs, ease-of-use, and elimination of costly PBX maintenance – this is the promise of infoPBX, a Cloud based platform designed for medium and small business phone systems. infoPBX integrates your desktop phone with your computer and provides you with a wide range of voice applications, and because these applications are hosted in the cloud, there is no need for you to purchase a system, cards, server or software. The applications are bundled in three different price plans and are offered as a managed service that is billed monthly.

How Using Hosted PBX vs. Phone Lines Saves Money

Phone companies charge by the minute for phone calls. PBX treats information passing through your broadband IP as chunks of data, making it less expensive than a phone line. For businesses that want to save money, using Hosted PBX will cut costs by using available resources.

Primary Ways That Hosted PBX Saves Money
  • The cost of installing or upgrading phone lines is omitted.
  • Hosted PBX Systems feature equipment that hooks directly into your broadband network
  • Hosted PBX Systems offer encrypted VPN connections, saving the cost of buying security software for phone lines
  • Hosted PBX Systems offer common features that phone companies may charge for, including call waiting, voicemail, caller ID and conferencing
  • Our infoPBX National plan offers unlimited long-distance calling*
No more “Phone Guy”

Expanding your phone system normally requires a call to the phone company to setup new equipment. That means time lost as new lines and calling features are connected. With Hosted PBX, that connection can be done with a few clicks via the web portal on your account.

See your Voicemails as Emails

Our Hosted PBX forwards your voicemail to your email inbox. This feature allows you to play voicemail on your Mac or PC, freeing up time on your handset.

Get in Touch with us Today!

Our staff is standing by to help you start saving your business money! Call us at 541.773.5000, or send us an email to sales@infostructure.net to find out more about our Hosted PBX Phone Systems.

* InfoStructure reserves the right to adjust rates for excessive usage. International calls are billed separately. 

 

InfoStructure Announces Multi-Location Telecommunications Contract with Jackson County Library District

Medford, OR: InfoStructure, a southern-Oregon based telecommunications and Internet provider, announced that they have been awarded a multi-location telecommunications contract with Jackson County Library District (JCLD). This contract covers thirteen different JCLD locations in southern Oregon.

On the company’s recent contract award, InfoStructure owner Jeff Rhoden states, “This has been a long-term collaborative effort that we have invested many hours in to complete. InfoStructure is very excited to be a larger part of JCLD’s day-to-day operations and looking forward to assisting them with their telecommunication goals for years to come.” JCLD Executive Administrator Lisa Marston says, “The Library District is committed to partnering with local businesses like InfoStructure that offer competitive pricing and service.”

InfoStructure continues to emerge as a successful player in the IP Cloud space, leveraging the power of the Internet and the many voice and data services that it hosts within its network. In business since 1994, the company has managed to flourish through the economic storms and steadily grow its workforce, its customer base and its bottom line.

About InfoStructure
InfoStructure represents a new generation of telecommunications providers harnessing the power of the Internet and providing network services for small and medium businesses in the Western US. In business for over 20 years the company started as an ISP providing Internet access in southern Oregon, and by 2003, it transitioned into voice services as a CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) and began offering traditional business and residential phone services. By 2007, InfoStructure began developing its fully redundant IP network and offering business VoIP. Today the company offers a wide range of IP voice and data services, as well as traditional telephone and Internet services.

For more information on InfoStructure, visit www.infostructure.net or contact them here:
InfoStructure
pr@infostructure.net
541.773.5000

For more information on Jackson County Library District, visit www.jacksoncountylibrarydistrict.org or contact them here:
Jackson County Library District
lmarston@rvcog.org
541.664.6674

Come and see us at the TechJunction Conference in Eugene – June 4th!

Join us for the latest in IT security and IT solutions!

InfoStructure is proud to be a part of the newest IT solutions and the latest in IT Security at the TechJunction Conference.

F2F Events, Inc. (F2F) produces CPE-accredited educational conferences for IT professionals focusing on the latest developments in information security, IT infrastructure and communications. F2F’s TechJunction conference series is dedicated to providing both attending delegates and sponsors a strong return on their investment of time and resources.

As a key-influencer on the evaluation of IT solutions, TechJunction was developed for you. An educational symposium addressing today’s most critical IT challenges:

  • Business Continuance & Recovery
  • Network & Data Security
  • Enterprise Communications

The conference will be held at the Eugene Hilton. For additional information on TechJunction Conference, visit the TechJunction site here.

5 Great Time-Saving Keyboard Tricks

Hands-on-laptop-keyboard

1) Speed Up Your Searches

By tapping Command+F at the same time on a Mac or Control+F on a PC, you can search for a word on a webpage or document. No more poring over the whole page to see where that paragraph on computer networking started! This command shows you every instance of the word or phrase you search so you can easily navigate between references or search and replace.

2) Speedy Document Shortcuts

There are a couple of document and editing shortcuts everyone should know. Of course, to copy and paste text, you can use Command+C and Command+V (Mac) or Control+C and Control+V (PC). To select all of a text (or image), use Command/Control+A; to undo an action, Command/Control+Z. And, to save a document, it’s Command/Control+S. Once you’ve got a handle on these basics, your text editing will be light-years faster.

3) Text Styling in a Snap

Most word processors and text editors (including Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and email clients) share a lot of the same standard shortcuts for styling text: To make text bold, tap Command/Control+B; to italicize something, Command/Control+I; and to underline a word, Command/Control+U.

4) Cleaned Up Hyperlinks In Gmail

No need to copy and paste a URL into an email. If you highlight the text you want to turn into a link, then hit Control/Command+K, a pop-up in Gmail appears and lets you paste in the URL. Now, instead of having an email littered with http://s and www.s, you’ve got clean text with a few blue, clickable links.

5) Google Calendar Tricks

We would be lost without Google Calendar events and notifications. These time-saving tricks are helpful if you’re planning your schedule for the upcoming weeks and months. To create an event in Google Calendar, just hit “C.” If you’ve navigated into the future (or the past) and want to quickly jump back to today, hit “T.” And, if you want to switch to month view, hit “3” or “M.” For day view, hit “1” or “D.”

Top Five PC Tips Everyone Should Know

1) Find/Delete large files wasting space:

A handy tool called WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics) can be used to easily find which files and folders are taking up the most space on your drive. From there, you can delete them and open up a ton of storage space.

Find/Delete large files wasting space

2) Reduce the number of programs running at startup:

If your PC is taking too long to boot, it’s probably because you have far too many programs running at startup. Reducing this is easy, it will make your PC launch noticeably faster and lighter upon first load. To change the items running at startup, go to Run using the hotkey Windows key + R, and type “msconfig.” A small window will appear (see the screenshot below), select the Startup tab. From here you will be able to turn off many startup programs, which can shave several seconds (or minutes) off your boot time. (Note Windows 8 has moved this functionality to the Task Manager). Try to make sure you research what you are turning off as some processes might be needed by third party programs or drivers you have installed.

Reduce Startup Programs

3) Cloud backup important files:

If you’re working on a critical paper for school, work, or any other major project, make sure you are backing up the file not just locally. You can use services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or any of the other popular cloud storage solution which will do the legwork for you in the background. Of course, you can also throw the files on a thumb drive or external HDD just to be safe but backing up to the cloud can be done seamlessly which is twice the advantage.

Cloud backup important files

4) Better multiple monitor control:

There are several useful keyboard shortcuts for controlling open windows on multiple monitors. Pressing the Windows Key + Arrow Keys will cause a window to quickly snap to each side of either monitor. Alternatively, hitting Shift + Windows Key + Arrows will cause the window to jump to the other monitor. Lastly, pressing Windows + P will allow you to quickly set up a second display or projector.

Better multiple monitor control

5) Bring up the system information window:

This is so much quicker than digging this out the traditional way… Just press Windows + Pause/Break and the System Information panel will be ready to go. This might be the only use for the Pause/Break key you will ever find, so enjoy it!

Bring up the system information window

Top 10 Reasons to Switch to an InfoStructure Hosted PBX Phone System

virtual phone system
1) Easier to Install than a proprietary phone system:

Our PBX phone systems run as software on a computer and takes advantage of computer power and a user interface. By contrast a proprietary phone system often requires an installer trained on that particular system.

2) Easy to manage:

Our PBX Phone Systems can be managed via a web-based configuration interface or a GUI, allowing you to easily maintain and fine tune your phone system. Proprietary phone systems have difficult-to-use interfaces which are often designed to be used only by phone technicians.

3) Significant cost savings using VoIP providers:

With an IP PBX you can easily use a VOIP service provider for long distance and international calls. The monthly savings are significant. If you have branch offices, you can easily connect phone systems between branches and make free phone calls.

4) Eliminate phone wiring:

An IP Telephone system allows you to connect hardware IP phones directly to a standard computer network port. Software phones can be installed directly on the PC. You can now eliminate phone wiring and make adding or moving of extensions easier. In new offices you can completely eliminate the need for wiring extra ports to be used by the office phone system.

5) Eliminate vendor lock in:

IP PBXs are based on the open SIP standard. You can mix and match any SIP hardware or software phone with any SIP-based IP PBX, PSTN Gateway or VOIP provider. In contrast, a proprietary phone system often requires proprietary phones to use advanced features, and proprietary extension modules to add features.

6) Scalability:

Proprietary systems are easy to outgrow. Adding more phone lines or extensions often requires expensive hardware modules. In some cases you need an entirely new phone system. Not so with an IP PBX. A standard computer can easily handle a large number of phone lines and extensions – just add more phones to your network to expand.

7) Better customer service & productivity:

With our Hosted PBX Systems, we provide excellent customer service and you increase productivity! Since the IP telephone system is now computer-based, you can integrate phone functions with business applications. For example, bring up the customer record of the caller automatically when you receive his/her call, dramatically improving customer service and cutting cost by reducing time spent on each caller. Outbound calls can be placed directly from Outlook, removing the need for the user to type in the phone number.

8) Twice the phone system features for half the price:

Since our Hosted PBX is software-based, it is easier for developers to add and improve feature sets. Most VoIP phone systems come with a rich feature set, including auto attendant, voice mail, ring groups, advanced reporting and more. These options are often very expensive in proprietary systems.

9) Allow hot desking & roaming:

Hot desking, the process of being able to easily move offices/desks based on the task at hand, has become very popular. With an IP PBX the user simply takes his phone to his new desk – No patching required! Users can roam too – if an employee has to work from home, he/she can simply fire up their SIP software phone and are able to answer calls to their extension, just as they would in the office. Calls can be diverted anywhere in the world because of the SIP protocol characteristics!

10) Better phone usability:

SIP phones are easier to use! Employees often struggle using advanced phone features. Setting up a conference, or transferring a call on an old PBX requires detailed instructions.
Not so with InfoStructure’s Hosted PBX – all features are easily performed from a user friendly Windows GUI. In addition, users get a better overview of the status of other extensions, of inbound calls, call queues, and presence via the IP PBX Windows client. Proprietary systems often require expensive “system” phones to get an idea what is going on on your phone system and even then, status information is cryptic at best.

What does all of this mean?

Investing in InfoStucture’s Hosted PBX Phone System makes a lot of sense, not only for new companies buying a phone system, but also for companies who already have a PBX or a traditional phone system. An IP PBX delivers such significant savings in management, maintenance, and call costs, that upgrading to a Hosted PBX should be the obvious choice for any company. Send us an email here or call us today at 541.773.5000 to talk to one of our expert sales consultants!

InfoStructure co-sponsors Douglas High School’s Sparrow Club

Meet our Sparrow – Macie McMahon

InfoStructure is proud to be co-sponsoring Douglas High School’s Sparrow, Macie McMahon along with Elmer’s Restaurants of Southern Oregon.

Sweet-natured Macie was born on September 17th, 2010. Over the next several months, Macie’s parents noticed that she wasn’t quite meeting developmental goals for babies her age. They also noticed that Macie would make frequent strange movements with her eyes. Tests were done, along with a scan on Macie’s head. The scan revealed that Macie had a walnut-sized tumor in the center of her brain, sitting on her pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and optic nerve. Because of its location, doctors say the tumor is inoperable. The scan also showed that Macie had hydrocephalus (excessive fluid build up inside the skull), which puts pressure on the brain.

Macie was officially diagnosed with a JPA brain tumor in April of 2011. Doctors installed a shunt to drain fluid, in addition to taking a biopsy of the tumor.

Fortunately, the results of the biopsy showed the tumor to be benign. However, although the tumor is not cancerous, it has to be treated like it is cancer in order to keep in from growing. Little Macie has lost vision in one eye due to the pressure being caused by the tumor on her optic nerve. Macie has been on and off extensive chemotherapy treatment since she was seven-months-old, and her parents received more hard news in late 2014. Although doctors say the tumor in Macie’s brain is still benign, scans reveal that it is growing.

Macie underwent a biopsy in September 2014 to qualify for a new clinical trial. She is the youngest person involved in this trial, which involves taking a new medication (form of chemo) once a day for a period of two years. Hopefully, this trial will prove successful and Macie’s tumor will shrink dramatically.

In spite of all of this, Macie is usually a happy and affectionate child who seems to always be laughing and who loves playing with her big brother, Logan.

Students at Douglas High School will make Macie the focus of their lives as they work hard to raise money for her through community service and fundraising projects.

For more information on Sparrow Macie McMahon, visit her page here.  You can also see her video here.

Top Five Ways to Speed Up Your PC

speed-up-your-pcThere are many items that can slow down your computer or laptop such as spyware, malware and viruses, which your computer will pick up. You should also consider the fact that if your computer is getting old and software is getting outdated, this too will inhibit your PC from doing what it is supposed to. Even new, out-of-the-box computers come with a load of programs on them. Manufacturers think you need them all, and you almost always do not. Some of these will continually run in the background and, in turn, slow down your system.

While keeping your computer hardware up to date and your anti-virus software current can help mitigate some of the problems your computer will encounter, what else can you do to speed up your system? We break down a few tips to help boost the performance of your PC.

1) Remove Spyware

We can’t stress enough how important it is to rid yourself of these nasty bugs that can slip into the cracks of your virtual life. Spyware can cause pop-ups as well as collect personal information without letting you know or asking for permission. This puts your computer and your information at risk. Spyware also can also instruct your home computer to send harmful emails to your friends and family. These are just a few of spyware’s tricks. Make sure you use a reputable spyware remover to take care of the problem.

2) Free Up Disk Space

The Disk Cleanup tool is a great way to help free up space on your hard disk and improve performance. A few things Disk Cleanup can do are:

  • Remove temporary internet files (which generally take up the most space).
  • Empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Delete programs you never use.
  • Remove Windows Temporary files, such as error reports.
  • Backup files you never access.
3) Defrag

Disk fragmentation slows the overall efficiency of your computer. As you install and uninstall programs and save and delete files over the years, these actions create small empty gaps among the other data on your hard drive. After a while, new information is no longer stored in blocks, but in the nooks and corners of your hard drive. As a result, your computer must work harder to piece certain parts of the data together by scouring the hard drive. Disk Defragmenter consolidates these files and folders so that they occupy one single space on the disk. Run this when:

  • You add a large number of files
  • Your free space totals 15 percent or less.
  • You install new, large programs or a new OS.
4) Use ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost was introduced with Windows XP, and there are multiple videos on Microsoft’s website that instruct you on how to use ReadyBoost. This tool basically uses a USB flash drive or memory card to introduce a level of memory that functions somewhere between RAM and your hard drive disk for storing non-volatile memory. ReadyBoost works better on systems that struggle to open and maintain the speed of certain programs. It will enhance your computer, but only if you have a hard drive that is at capacity or a system that is several years old. Otherwise, you are not going to notice much of a difference.

5) Repair Disk Errors

In addition to Defragmentation and Disk Cleanup, repairing disk errors can optimize the performance of your hard drive and your system. As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors, making it hard or impossible to save files and write data to your hard drive. By running the Error Checking utility, you can scan and repair bad sectors. To run this utility, follow these steps:

  • Close all open files and programs.
  • Click Start, and then click Computer.
  • In the Computer window (My Computer), right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.
  • In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
  • Click the Check Now button.
  • In the Check Disk dialog box (called Error-checking in Windows 7), select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start.
  • If you find bad sectors, choose to fix them.

Regular maintenance, like running the Defrag and Disk Cleanup utilities, as well as running spyware removers, should ideally be done once or twice a month, depending on how often you use your computer. All these tips can come together to help your computer be more efficient and give you an optimized computer experience without severe lag times.

The Top Cloud Computing Threats in an Enterprise Environment

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image24630377There are companies with operational models 90% based on cloud services, and the rest of the 10% is constituted wi­th in-house servers. The basic response after asking about security issues related to cloud services was that the cloud service provider will take care of them and they don’t have to worry about it.

This isn’t necessarily the case with every cloud service provider, since some CSPs have a good security model in place, while others clearly do not. There are many advantages of cloud services, which is why the cloud service model is being used extensively, but they are out of scope of this article.

Before continuing, let’s quickly define a threat. A threat is an actor who wants to attack assets in the cloud at a particular time with a particular goal in mind, usually to inflict his own financial gain and consequentially financial loss of a customer.

Before deciding to migrate to the cloud, we have to look at the cloud security threats to determine whether the cloud service is worth the risk due to the many advantages it provides. The following are the top security threats in a cloud environment:

Ease of Use

The cloud services can easily be used by malicious attackers, since a registration process is very simple, because we only have to have a valid credit card. In some cases we can even pay for the cloud service by using PayPal, Western Union, Payza, Bitcoin, or Litecoin, in which cases we can stay totally anonymous. The cloud can be used maliciously for various purposes like spamming, malware distribution, botnet C&C servers, DDoS, password and hash cracking.

Secure Data Transmission

When transferring the data from clients to the cloud, the data needs to be transferred by using an encrypted secure communication channel like SSL/TLS. This prevents different attacks like MITM attacks, where the data could be stolen by an attacker intercepting our communication.

Insecure APIs

Various cloud services on the Internet are exposed by application programming interfaces. Since the APIs are accessible from anywhere on the Internet, malicious attackers can use them to compromise the confidentiality and integrity of the enterprise customers. An attacker gaining a token used by a customer to access the service through service API can use the same token to manipulate the customer’s data. Therefore it’s imperative that cloud services provide a secure API, rendering such attacks worthless.

Malicious Insiders

Employees working at cloud service provider could have complete access to the company resources. Therefore cloud service providers must have proper security measures in place to track employee actions like viewing a customer’s data. Since cloud service provides often don’t follow the best security guidelines and don’t implement a security policy, employees can gather confidential information from arbitrary customers without being detected.

Shared Technology Issues

The cloud service SaaS/PasS/IaaS providers use scalable infrastructure to support multiple tenants which share the underlying infrastructure. Directly on the hardware layer, there are hypervisors running multiple virtual machines, themselves running multiple applications.

On the highest layer, there are various attacks on the SaaS where an attacker is able to get access to the data of another application running in the same virtual machine. The same is true for the lowest layers, where hypervisors can be exploited from virtual machines to gain access to all VMs on the same server (example of such an attack is Red/Blue Pill). All layers of shared technology can be attacked to gain unauthorized access to data, like: CPU, RAM, hypervisors, applications, etc.

Data Loss

The data stored in the cloud could be lost due to the hard drive failure. A CSP could accidentally delete the data, an attacker might modify the data, etc. Therefore, the best way to protect against data loss is by having a proper data backup, which solves the data loss problems. Data loss can have catastrophic consequences to the business, which may result in a business bankruptcy, which is why keeping the data backed-up is always the best option.

Data Breach

When a virtual machine is able to access the data from another virtual machine on the same physical host, a data breach occurs – the problem is much more prevalent when the tenants of the two virtual machines are different customers. The side-channel attacks are valid attack vectors and need to be addressed in everyday situations. A side-channel attack occurs when a virtual machine can use a shared component like processor’s cache to access the data of another virtual machine running on the same physical host.

Account/Service Hijacking

 It’s often the case that only a password is required to access our account in the cloud and manipulate the data, which is why the usage of two-factor authentication is preferred. Nevertheless, an attacker gaining access to our account can manipulate and change the data and therefore make the data untrustworthy. An attacker having access to the cloud virtual machine hosting our business website can include a malicious code into the web page to attack users visiting our web page – this is known as the watering hole attack. An attacker can also disrupt the service by turning off the web server serving our website, rendering it inaccessible.

Unknown Risk Profile

We have to take all security implications into account when moving to the cloud, including constant software security updates, monitoring networks with IDS/IPS systems, log monitoring, integrating SIEM into the network, etc. There might be multiple attacks that haven’t even been discovered yet, but they might prove to be highly threatening in the years to come.

Denial of Service

 An attacker can issue a denial of service attack against the cloud service to render it inaccessible, therefore disrupting the service. There are a number of ways an attacker can disrupt the service in a virtualized cloud environment: by using all its CPU, RAM, disk space or network bandwidth.

Lack of Understanding

Enterprises are adopting the cloud services in everyday operations, but it’s often the case they don’t really understand what they are getting into. When moving to the cloud there are different aspects we need to address, like understanding how the CSP operates, how the application is working, how to debug the application when something goes wrong, whether the data backups are already in place in case the hard drive dies, etc. If the CSP doesn’t provide additional backup of the data, but the customer expects it, who will be responsible when the hard drive fails? The customer will blame the CSP, but in reality it’s the customer’s fault, since they didn’t familiarize themselves enough with the cloud service operations – the result of which will be lost data.

User Awareness

 The users of the cloud services should be educated regarding different attacks, because the weakest link is often the user itself. There are multiple social engineering attack vectors that an attacker might use to lure the victim into visiting a malicious web site, after which he can get access to the user’s computer. From there, he can observe user actions and view the same data the user is viewing, not to mention that he can steal user’s credentials to authenticate to the cloud service itself. Security awareness is an often overlooked security concern.

Conclusion

When an enterprise company wants to move their current operation to the cloud, they should be aware of the cloud threats in order for the move to be successful. At InfoStructure, we make every attempt to secure our networks and cloud platforms to protect our customers from malicious attackers. If you have any questions about how we keep our customer’s information secure, please feel free to call us at 541.773.5000.