Have you been focusing on software packages and anti-virus tools to protect your data from hacking? That may not be enough, because it overlooks one of the biggest causes of security breaches. All of the security software and expertise in the world is useless if you or your employees don’t remain vigilant about their behavior as it relates to hacking scams and data security. Human error remains the biggest cause of security breaches and data loss at almost all companies, large or small.

We cannot remind you enough that you need to develop a culture of security among all of your employees. Changing passwords frequently, not sharing passwords, and learning to recognize and avoid opening nefarious emails are the top three lessons you need to reinforce with your employees. And don’t make it a once-in-a-while memo. Make it part of your office culture with ongoing reminders, links to articles explaining phishing scams, and routine reminders to change passwords. Contact your MSP if you’d like to learn more techniques to educate your employees about their data security responsibilities.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@theepochteam.com or 410-465-3955.

Yes, today’s blog is about office phone systems. You have one. They are dull and no one wants to deal with them, but they are necessary. They need to be reconfigured for new employees, they are confusing, and the telco lines probably cost you more money than you would like.

Like everything else, office phone systems began transitioning to fully digital and online well over a decade ago. The technical term is “Voice over Internet Protocol” or “VoIP.” In a practical sense, VoIP means that your phone lines are no longer coming in over traditional, plain old telephone lines, or other standard protocols from the 1960s to the 2000s. Instead, voice signals are now being carried to your phone from the telco via the internet, such as your broadband connection.

Why do this? There are a few simple benefits:

  1. You cut the higher landline charges, especially for international calls.
  2. Old fashioned systems are becoming obsolete and parts are not available.
  3. You no longer need two separate cabling systems for telco and internet.
  4. They rely less on hardware to do the job, so reconfiguring for a new employee or a major office shift is much, much easier. It is now a software change, not a hardware issue.
  5. Your employees are no longer tied to the phone at their desk. VoIP allows integration with mobile devices.

This is just a quick summary, but it gives you a starting point for understanding why most firms are moving to VoIP systems and abandoning the old traditional PBX and key systems of an earlier era.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@theepochteam.com or 410-465-3955.

The cloud refers to using off site computing resources and storage to supplement or even replace the use of in-house resources. Instead of buying hardware and software to support your business, you are basically outsourcing this set of tasks.

Here are the benefits:

  1. Elasticity. With onsite computing, if you need additional capacity you have no choice but to purchase that capacity in discrete steps, which means bearing the costs of being over-capacity for a period of time until growth catches up. Onsite computing also means you must have the capacity to handle your own peak computing and storage demands, and resources may go underutilized much of the time. The cloud allows complete elasticity in the utilization of computing resources. You buy only what you need, as you need it. You can grow or downsize as the business demands.
  2. Pay as you go. On-site hardware involves significant capital expenditures. The cloud allows you to pay for only what you use. The cloud also allows you to benefit from economies of scale that are not available using the in-house model. Labor, equipment and maintenance expenses are shared across a vast pool of users.
  3. Protection against on-site disaster. If a disaster strikes your physical business location, on-site resources can be damaged, destroyed, or become inaccessible for a period of time. Even if it isn’t a major disaster, if you have a failed server your business could be down for an extended period. When everything occurs in the cloud, you are vaccinated against this type of business calamity. You can still access and use computing resources from anywhere.

In summary, left entirely on its own a small firm just does not have the resources and capital to fully support its own technology infrastructure. The cloud turns that upside down, enabling firms to enjoy the benefits of a fully supported tech foundation without levels of expenditures that are just not feasible for smaller operations.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@theepochteam.com or 410-465-3955.

Many small firms are pretty busy handling their own business and do not give much thought to what they would do if a natural disaster like a hurricane hit their physical office location. Natural disasters can not only prevent access to a physical office but it can cut off power and create frustrating obstacles for employees. What if the equipment storing all of your data and software needed to run day to day operations became inaccessible? What would happen to your ability to continue to serve your clients or customers?

Though we call it the cloud, with images of gray skies and rain, the cloud can be a ray of sunshine. It is an excellent and cost-effective resource for smaller firms to make sure they maintain 24/7 access even in bad weather. Because everything is maintained off site, you can (1) bypass disruption or damage that may have occurred at your physical site and (2) access what you need to keep your business functioning from any remote location.

Small firms need to realize they are most vulnerable to business disruptions, as they have less capital and fewer resources to carry them through a bad period. The cloud represents a simple and value driven resource to address business continuity issues that could turn a small firm’s business upside down.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@theepochteam.com or 410-465-3955.

Not-for-profits have an unusual issue regarding security. Firms that have trained, paid full-time employees have a strong level of control over the actions of their workers. NPOs, however, may rely heavily on volunteers whose time in the office may be minimal and sporadic. You may feel grateful for their dedication and be less likely to subject them to rigid security training. Also, a threat of punishment for those who make inadvertent errors that create security risks is not going to be acceptable in the “volunteer” environment.

Though it may seem a waste of precious volunteer time, you need to consider implementing ongoing training and reminders to all volunteers about what they can do to protect your data and digital infrastructure. The two most common human errors are falling for phishing scams and bringing storage devices to your office and introducing them to laptops and other devices. Think of the volunteer who creates a brochure for you in their home office, then downloads it to your office PC. This is an excellent backdoor for a virus or malware to break into your infrastructure.

Remind your volunteers on a consistent basis that no outside storage devices are to be brought into the office for use on the NPO’s equipment. Secondly, provide training on how to recognize phishing scams and the risks of opening unfamiliar emails and links. Finally, for volunteers who work from home, consider using safe shared software platforms like Google Drive or Microsoft 365.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@theepochteam.com or 410-465-3955.