Category Archives: Business VoIP

Top 5 Ways to Speed up Web Browsing

speed up your internet1. Use passwords that are secure

If your browser offers a master password option, use it. If you are using one weak password with all your site logins, you could be jeopardizing your private data. Using a secure password system can fix that. If you’re using different browsers across different systems, you can keep your password synced with Dropbox, or take care of bookmarks as well with Foxmarks (Firefox only).

2. Use OpenDNS on your browser and/or router

With OpenDNS (a free service that can speed up your page connections) open pages from keyword shortcuts, operate with a parental filter, and avoid spam pages. This service provides detailed how-to instructions for both individual computers and routers, so it’s definitely worth a try.

3. Block Flash and/or JavaScript

If you are using Firefox, install the Adblock Plus and Flashblock extensions, and sites slowed down by Flash and huge display ads will load quite a bit faster. If you’re able to tweak your router, set up universal ad-blocking through it with the Tomato firmware, or use a solution specific to Chrome, on Internet Explorer through the Toggle Flash add-on or IE7Pro plug-in, and even on your iPhone or iPod touch.

4. Use RSS feeds and mobile versions instead of heavy sites

RSS feeds are great for getting a lot of reading done in a short amount of time. Google Reader webapp and NetNewsWire/NewsGator’s desktop clients are both great way to catch up on your regular web reading with a minimum of bandwidth or witout a connection whatsoever. You can run any site that is loaded full of news through the Google Mobilizer for a version that is fast enough for a mobile phone, and very fast on a desktop.

5. Tweak Connection rates on your home wireless network

Your wireless router can actually regulate bandwidth while watching your XBox, BitTorrent downloads, multiple laptops, and other web-connected apps and gear fight it out for a finite amount of bandwidth. Many routers let you negotiate connection rate using quality of service settings. Those routers that don’t have these settings can often be made to do so by installing DD-WRT or Tomato. The end result? You can let heavy video games run in the evenings, set BitTorrent free in the middle of the night and keep your browser quiet during the day.

InfoStructure Voices in on IP Phone Security

cyber pirateJust recently, InfoStructure employee Derrick Sisson came across this article in which a small business is now faced with a $166,000 bill for fraudulent telephone charges. Derrick says, “There are several ways fraud like this happens. Of course we all know the dreaded SIP hacks and VoIP weakness of being out on the internet, but that’s not the only way a customer is vulnerable to fraud….Once they have access they are able to do anything they want including  making International calls undetected by the customer…” We are aware of the risks that face IP Phone systems and below are some ideas that will help maintain the security of your IP Phone System.

Protect Your Voice!

Hacking into phone calls via IP Telephony (also known as VoIP) opens a veritable gold mine of valuable data and information. Large financial boons are at risk in government agencies, financial institutions, and professional services firms. Also at risk are call centers where health records, confidential account information and payment card data can get hacked. Hacking voicemail has also become popular as it exposes private business information and celebrity secrets. Toll fraud is also being committed by large groups of phone pirates who are committed to compromising the security of your phones.

Doing Nothing Can Be Costly

The risks in VoIP go beyond eavesdropping, toll fraud, and voicemail hacks. IP phones can also be entry points into your business network. VoIP calls and voicemail messages are data and can possibly get hacked. If you use a hosted IP phone service or a VoIP system, protecting these networks are similar to protecting a data network. The security policies and technologies can be complex, depending on the IP phone system you’re using, whether onsite or hosted. Following is an introduction to some IP phone security strategies:

Scrutinize Your Hosted VoIP System

Evaluate services such as user authentication, encryption, and VLAN configuration and also check the security of configuring and signaling methods. Also investigate any HIPAA, SOX, PCI, or other compliance guidance that apply.

Take advantage of features on your VoIP system that enable security. Essentially:
  • Place network restrictions on types of calls by device, user, and other criteria.
  • Control voice network access by user name and password and/or device certificate.
Apply physical and logical protection, such as:
  • Install OS updates and limit software loading on phones.
  • Lock voice servers for administration. Use domain restr­­­ictions and two-factor authentication for administrative access, including signaling data, configuration files and credentials.
  • Set up a firewall and intrusion prevention system (IPS) to regulate authorized and unauthorized VoIP traffic and to track abnormal voice activities.
Use VLANs to Segment Voice Traffic and Separate It from Data Traffic
  • Some voice systems and switches support device discovery protocols and automatically assign IP phones to voice VLANs.
Sensitive Voice Traffic Should Be Encrypted
  • Encrypt your Internet gateway with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) over Transport Layer Security (TLS).
  • Apply encryption by segment, device, or user; indiscriminate encrypting can result in excessive network latency or introduce operational overhead and complexity.
  • Encrypt the media (packets) with protocols such as SRTP.
  • Use VPNs for network connections by remote phones. This is important when SRTP or HTTPS is not available.
Implement Strict Security Policies with Users
  • Communicate your phones’ built-in security features to users.
  • Apply strong passwords to access the voicemail inbox. Immediately change the default password to a strong password, then change it as often as your company’s policy dictates for changing login and email passwords.
  • Delete sensitive voicemail messages as soon as users have listened to them. Not storing voicemails is the easiest and most effective way to protect them.
  • Immediately report anomalies. You may not know a phone has been hacked until an employee reports an odd occurrence, such as a saved voicemail message that has been deleted or forwarded to an unusual number.

Don’t let cybercriminals find your IP phones and voice systems accessible to attack. Equip yourself with tools that protect your sensitive data files today.

 

Business VoIP Success Stories

Business VoIP is on the rise since it is a scalable and cost-effective option for leveraging telephone communications across an organization. Advocacy for VoIP services is all over the world of telecommunications not simply because of the hard data produced to support it, but because there are many real case studies of business VoIP success:

• NuVo Technologies, a Hebron, KY producer of high-end audio equipment, would have 20 – 30 callers hang up while on hold with its traditional phone system. With no abilities to project how long callers would be on hold or any real abilities to monitor the hold queue, the situation cost the company business. After transitioning to a VoIP system, NuVo can better analyze call patterns and field customer needs. Furthermore, the system aids in telecommuting which helps business continuity and emergency management.

• The Mennonite Mission Network, a religious outreach group which supported four offices and as part of its mission had nearly 30 long-distance employees and staff traveling all over the world, needed an effective replacement for its aging phone systems. Due to the need for mobility in missionary work, it was decided that as much flexibility as possible was needed in the solution. Ultimately, the MMM saved $15,000 to $18,000 a year with the new system and recouped its investment in 25 months.

• Sportsman’s Warehouse, a national chain of outdoor retailers, was achieving a 50% annual growth and had a phone system that could not keep up with that growth. The company needed a centralized phone systm to keep up with the rapid growth and new locations popping up across the country. Their goal is always to have customers in the store within two weeks of occupying a new building, a goal which the easy setup of a VoIP system helps achieve. With its new system the company is able to manage 2000 phones with an IT department of just 22 employees.

These are just a handful of business VoIP success stories. Contact InfoStructure and we will explain how we have assisted our customers in making this winning transition.

Exciting Trends in IP Business Communications for 2013

The Emerging Mobile Majority
The rapid adoption of mobile devices in the workplace continues to enhance productivity and efficiency. A recent report by Forrester observes, “A full 66 percent of employees now use two or more devices for work every day including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.”

Integrating Public and Private Clouds
The emerging mobile workplace requires an ability to switch between public and private clouds, and to do so both securely and seamlessly. Companies will be challenged to enthusiastically and competently embrace change and support cloud-based applications.

In 2013, in excess of 60 percent of companies will have instituted cloud computing to some degree, according to a recent Gartner report.

Security Initiatives
The need for cloud-based security is no longer just good business, it is essential. The need to protect proprietary data is self-evident. So is the need to keep customer information secure as well.

Also, legal mandates are as substantial as ever. Current initiatives include health care clouds to address privacy requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The public sector is looking to cloud-based solutions to maintain compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act. Finally, the payment card industry’s rapid emergence in mobile device-based transactions creates a host of new security needs in the cloud.

IP Traffic Growth — 29% per year
The pervasiveness of mobile devices and cloud-based computing will be driving forces in 2013 and beyond. The Cisco Visual Networking Index projects annual compound growth in IP traffic of a dramatic 29 percent through 2016. Consumers and employees alike will increasingly expect smart and secure networks to enhance their productivity and their lives.

About Us
InfoStructure is one of a new generation of IP business communications providers that is creatively harnessing the internet’s power and potential. In 18 years, we have grown from an Oregon-based ISP provider to a company with a fully redundant IP network that enables an array of IP voice and data services, including business VoIP. For information on how we can assist in the growth of your enterprise, contact us today.

SIP Trunking: What Is It and How Does It Support My Business

Cutting costs and increasing productivity is the mantra of most businesses today. Taking advantage of new telecom technologies is a prime way to increase communication and collaboration inside and outside the organization. To take full advantage of your business telephone services consider utilizing SIP Trunking.

In traditional telephony a physical circuit is need to connect the telephone system (PBX) to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). If you have various locations connected to your PBX, you are probably paying for a T1-PRI (Primary Rate Interface) to each, or if your capacity is larger than 23 channels you may have to purchase additional PRI circuits. With SIP trunking you eliminate the need for the physical circuit and receive telephone service over the data network instead; voice simply becomes another service running on your data network. The SIP trunk can carry voice, data and video all at the same time.

There is more to the cost efficiency of SIP trunking. As mentioned above, PRI is sold in increments of 23 but with managed SIP trunks you only pay for the lines or bandwidth that you need and add additional capacity when necessary. SIP trunking can also include all of your local and long distance telephone usage allowing you to predict and control your monthly communication expenses better than ever before.

An added benefit and one that can be crucial, is the disaster recovery capability of SIP Trunking. When utilizing direct trunk overflow you have the ability to transfer inbound calls to an alternate location (phone number). This can be invaluable if for any reason connectivity to the PSTN from a location is lost. This will allow you to continue communicating with your clients and employees until the situation is resolved.

At InfoStructure we know what it takes to leverage the most out of your business communication investment. With our InfoSIP trunking solution you have the flexibility of our national plan or local plan with free installation for either. Check out our FAQ page then contact us for a complete quote or help in determining what solution works best for your objectives.

What is SIP?

Our telecom industry just loves acronyms, which roll off our tongues in steady streams as though a different language is being spoken. Take “SIP” for example. SIP has been around for over a decade, but the term is still an enigma among small business managers, despite the fact that SIP and other modes of business VoIP are approaching mass market adoption. Perhaps the main cause of the confusion is the fact that SIP is often given other names within the industry or maybe because it’s represented in unintelligible “techie” terms. Hopefully we can briefly clarify the meaning and application of SIP and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the signaling format of Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP). SIP and VoIP are terms that are often used interchangeably, even though VoIP technically has a much broader application. SIP is a proven method for using an Internet connection for the purpose of voice transmission. The virtual paths over which SIP calls travel are most commonly called “SIP trunks” and “call paths.” They’re also less formally referred to as “VoIP phone lines” or just “Internet phone lines.” In the final analysis, they are economical alternatives to office phone lines and no more complicated to use than POTS…oh, that’s another telecom acronym that stands for “plain old telephone service.”

You don’t need to have an IP phone system to install SIP. If you do have an IP PBX with a VoIP-ready interface, you’re ready to go. If not, you can keep your existing phone system and still use SIP, in which case, you would need a network device that converts the phone signal to IP. These network devices vary in price, depending upon the number of required trunks, QOS and network security, but they are usually much less expensive than the typical PRI cards and other premise equipment used with a traditional PBX. If you’re in the market for a new IP phone system, you can purchase one from Cisco, Avaya or Shoretel, or you might alternatively choose a “hosted” VoIP PBX solution like our InfoTalk Pro, which is offered as a managed service.

With InfoStructure’s SIP, you don’t need to obtain new phone numbers when converting from a non-VoIP application. Your existing phone numbers can be “ported” by most SIP carriers. You can also order new numbers local to your area or “virtual numbers” – phone numbers with area codes and exchanges outside of your local area, whatever works best for your business. In addition, you receive one free phone number (DID) per SIP trunk. If you require more numbers, they’re available at only $1.00 each per month. Also included are caller ID with name, call hunt groups, and call detail reports via web portal.

A commonly asked question is regarding the size and type of Internet connection needed to accommodate SIP. A reliable Internet broadband connection is a prerequisite for any VoIP service, regardless of whether it’s DSL, wireless, Ethernet over copper, or fiber optics. The amount of bandwidth is definitely a consideration, and it depends upon your unique business needs for both voice and data. The bandwidth per SIP trunk varies with the type of compression used in the SIP carrier network, but as a rule of thumb with our SIP, you can conservatively estimate 80 Kbs per call, including overhead. So eight concurrent calls, for example, will use up to 640 Kbs of bandwidth.

The time that it takes to install SIP depends mainly upon what is needed to fulfill your specific requirements. A simple installation can take only a couple of days after your order is placed. A larger, more complex installation requiring multiple locations and network equipment installations could take up to two weeks or longer.

We hope this helps to remove some of the mystery surrounding SIP! For information on SIP pricing, check out our SIP product, InfoTalk Plus, available in special rate plans with both unlimited and metered usage. If you have any questions, please call us. Our Oregon call center is open 7 X 24 every day of the year with friendly and knowledgeable service reps waiting to take your calls and answer your questions.