A Growing Number of Businesses Are Discovering the Benefits of UCaaS

July 4Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based strategy for merging multiple telecom and communication software applications in a centralized and easily accessible virtual space. In 2014, the global UCaaS market was valued at $13.1 billion, and that figure is expected to nearly double by 2019.

A growing number of businesses are discovering the many benefits of UCaaS platforms. They deliver competitive advantages by allowing employees to instantly communicate with clients and team members using virtually any mode and any connected device at any time. Here’s a look at some of the other key aspects of its value proposition:
 

  • Better business continuity. Business continuity and disaster planning are essential to any enterprise strategy. With UCaaS, communication downtime is virtually eliminated in the event of an emergency or unforeseen disaster, allowing team members to remain productive and responsive in the aftermath of a service disruption.
  • Improved employee mobility. Growing numbers of workers are choosing to telecommute part or all of the time, and UCaaS provides them with a comprehensive communication and productivity toolbox. Third-party applications can quickly and easily be integrated into a UCaaS platform, giving businesses and their employees optimal flexibility.
  • Effective collaboration tools. Collaboration is the lifeblood of any enterprise, and the rise of more mobile workplaces means that businesses need dynamic and innovative solutions. UCaaS supports collaboration over any distance with its complete suite of communication and productivity tools, which can reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive business travel.
  • Ease of deployment. Compared to conventional telephone systems, UCaaS is easier to install and integrate. It greatly reduces physical resource requirements and is ideal for new companies that are looking to get up and running quickly with minimal expenditures.
  • Simplified scalability. UCaaS services can be scaled up or down quickly, and users only pay for the services they actively use. Pre-packaged solutions that require enterprises to sign up for services they may not actually need are not part of the prevailing sales model.

Best of all, UCaaS services can significantly cut costs while offering convenient user features like one-number dialing. Choosing a best-in-class service model is essential to realizing its full benefits, so be sure to carefully compare the relative benefits and advantages offered by competing providers.

If you would like to learn more about ROI Networks’ dynamic suite of UCaaS and enterprise collaboration tools, contact us today.

VoIP Security: The Layered Approach

ROI June blog 4Security is a top concern for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) users, and given the rapid rate of change in the technology industry, it’s essential to constantly revisit and update best practices. One strategy that has proven to be effective is the “layered” approach to VoIP security, in which systems are safeguarded at multiple levels.

In this approach, VoIP security is structured much like an onion. Each security layer functions like a “ring,” and a combination of approaches are used to significantly reduce security hazards.

Elements of Layered VoIP Security 

Most layered approaches to VoIP security incorporate multiple types of protection, including firewalls, data encryption, and user authentication. These are supplemented with physical and virtual tools, including:

  • The separation of virtual local area networks (VLANs)
  • Traffic analysis and real-time monitoring tools
  • Physical security built into the system’s infrastructure

These safeguards are implemented across three primary security layers, spanning networks, transport, and applications.

Network Layer Security

The outermost layer in the “onion” model is the network layer, where inbound and outbound traffic travels. Attacks that target the network layer can result in significant quality of service losses, or even outright denials of service.

At the network level, VLANs and firewalls are effective at preventing cyber attacks. Keeping firewall protections enabled at all times and regularly installing system updates are the keys to protecting the network layer.

Transport Layer Security 

Most VoIP models use a technique known as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking to relay incoming voice data to specific end users via the transport layer. If the transport layer is attacked, the number of available user connections may be significantly decreased, or denial of service can result.

Data encryption and traffic monitoring both protect the transport layer. Encryption shields the incoming and outgoing voice packets that are carried across the transport layer, and traffic analysis can quickly detect unauthorized or malignant activity and alert the IT team to the problem.

Application Layer Security 

All VoIP services are supported by software that requires its own unique set of protections. This innermost layer of security can prevent problems like:

  • Unauthorized calls
  • Call interruption and interception
  • Eavesdropping
  • Quality of service losses

User authentication is essential when it comes to protecting the application layer, and like the transport layer, it can also be safeguarded through traffic analysis monitoring. Require users to create strong alphanumeric passwords and to regularly change their passwords to help keep intruders at bay.

To learn more about VoIP security or to arrange a no-obligation consultation, contact the telecommunications professionals at ROI Networks.

Why Managed Mobility Services Are the Answer

July 2Everything is connected these days, leading to complications where control of mobile devices on a company network is concerned. As the company’s mobile landscape continues to grow, so does the time and effort needed to manage it. An increasingly viable option today is managed mobility services (MMS), a method of outsourcing this complicated and tedious task.

Managing Complexity

A number of factors lend to the labyrinth that is business mobility. There are numerous reasons a company may consider using an MMS as a quality solution to the problem.

  • The use of mobile has increased dramatically and rapidly, so much so that many IT departments are finding that they do not have the expertise to handle the growing number of connections required.
  • Bring your own device (BYOD) programs can translate into a seemingly infinite number of devices that require connectivity—and bandwidth.
  • Securing BYOD devices is especially challenging without an effective Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, and even then may take significant resources.
  • Policy and corporate strategy must adapt to the expansion of technology. Integration of mobile devices into an existing network is not an easy feat.

Mobility Spending

First and foremost, a solid MDM application is required to help manage the intricacy of a mobile program. Second, skilled personnel are needed to operate the application effectively. These two factors alone can be quite an expense, with no guarantee of ROI. Provisioning new devices, tracking and suspending missing items, removing unnecessary equipment from the system, and securing both sides of every connection will take considerable labor hours.

A managed mobility solution removes these financial burdens from the company and provides faster, more efficient service for a reasonable rate. Industry experts help strategize and integrate a comprehensive mobile solution into the company network, then deploy and maintain it. This results in reduced labor costs, better asset protection, and even discounts on the acquisition of new devices.

Customization

Some organizations may require specific levels of control over their mobile solution, or a user interface that is designed to be tightly coupled with current company applications and services. This is outside the realm of typical developers, so the expertise afforded by managed service providers is invaluable. Not only will the software be highly customized, but it is also likely to be produced more cost-effectively and rapidly than doing it in-house.

The decision to use managed mobility solutions rather than service a mobile program internally is one that encompasses the entire company. Partnering with a reputable mobile solution provider can save money, allow the business to use its own resources more effectively, enhance security, and build a sound mobile strategy. To further discuss outsourcing for this complex technical area, contact us today.

Locking Down WLAN

blog 1Security is the key word when it comes to company networks. Wireless networks are often at higher risk of breach than their wired counterparts, so added measures are typically required to defend them properly. Following are some best practices for defending the organization’s Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) that go above and beyond data encryption and multi-factor authentication.

Separate Networking

Creating a guest network that doesn’t intermingle with business applications is a smart, easy way to protect assets. There are few reasons that a visitor would require access to the core network, and those can be addressed on an as-needed basis. For all others, simple access to the Internet is completely adequate.

Router Security

When choosing configuration settings for the WLAN, the IT team should use WiFi Protected Access (WPA2) Personal or Enterprise versions for optimal protection. WPA2 Enterprise is preferred over the Personal option because of its advanced authentication settings. Be sure that the physical hardware is secured in some way. Many devices are designed in such a way that they can actually be locked down after they are mounted to prevent theft.

Signal Boundaries

A potential danger on a WLAN is an intruder hopping onto the WiFi from outside of the building or attempting to interrupt services. The WiFi should be strong enough for employees to efficiently perform work functions, but ideally should not extend past the boundaries of the building or the risk of unauthorized use or disruption increases significantly. Special termination equipment can be used to contain the signal within the four walls of the facility.

Management Tools

In today’s world of bring your own device (BYOD) programs, managing the myriad of connections and users accessing the company network is a challenge. The company enjoys the cost savings of not having to provide mobile equipment, but must also handle the complication of securing employees’ personal devices.

Mobile Device and WLAN management tools are essential to the organization’s security program. These applications can detect intrusion, unauthorized access points, or rogue users attempting to break into the network. Devices can be decommissioned quickly and easily in case of theft or compromise. Intrusion prevention will help protect against floods and spoofing efforts.

Proper Planning for Legacy Devices

Higher cost equipment like printers and scanners aren’t always feasible to replace when more modern functionality is introduced to the market. In cases of older durable devices such as these, there may be an element of backward compatibility with the WLAN that must be accommodated. Segregating these connections onto a separate network that does not interact with company data will help manage this situation effectively.

Effective WLAN management is crucial to the security of company applications and data. Creating a comprehensive wireless strategy that encompasses all of the above points is a sound start to defending the organization’s network. To discuss other ways to protect company technical assets, contact us today.