Stay Alert to COVID-19 Phishing Scams

Phishing scams globally related to COVID-19 are on the rise. Whilst we work from home, juggling work and home priorities is stressful and hackers are taking advantage of our increase level of anxiety.

We’re looking for information and reassurance and are falling foul of phishing messages about PPE or even treatments and cures, or even pretending to be from health agencies and offering the latest statistics and safety measures.

Phishing is when scammers try to trick you into opening a malicious attachment, or clicking on a link in an email with intention of infecting your device or stealing your data.

  • 93% of phishing emails involve ransomware
  • 91% of cyberattacks start with phishing

So, if you receive a message you were not expecting, maybe with an incredible offer:

  1. Pause
  2. Think
  3. DO NOT CLICK

In addition, remember the following rules:

  • Never give away personal or financial information in any form or website unless YOU have initiated the request.
  • For up-to-date COVID-19 information use only reputable sources, such as gov.uk or local government websites, HMRC or the NHS. Bookmark useful websites to ensure you are always visiting the correct sites and subscribe to their newsletters.

Uncertainty makes us more vulnerable to scams, so Stay Alert. Yes – follow health and social distancing advice but also:

  • Protect your computers
  • Protect your data
  • Stay Alert to phishing

Make sure you and your staff are aware of the increased risk of phishing during COVID-19.

David Hewett
Managing Director
iTeam Solutions Ltd

(Source of data – IBM Cyber Security Intelligence, Microsoft and Verizon)

Zoom Security Concerns

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that has seen a huge increase in use during the Working From Home pandemic that has swept the globe for some reason over the last few weeks. The main reason it is so popular is that it is extremely easy to use and it ‘just works’.

Zoom has its HQ in USA but was, and still is, developed in China.

You may have seen in the media articles claiming that Zoom is not secure. Security experts have concerns that the encryption built-in to Zoom is not as strong as the company claims and that there are privacy problems.

A report published on Friday 3rd April by Canadian security experts Citizen Lab goes into some detail about the problems. It’s not all about Zoombombing (more on that later) but that the security of the platform doesn’t conform to the current standards in that it is not designed using security best practices and Zoom’s own claims of how secure it is are exaggerated.

You can read the report here – https://citizenlab.ca/2020/04/move-fast-roll-your-own-crypto-a-quick-look-at-the-confidentiality-of-zoom-meetings/

The conclusion of the experts at Citizen Lab is that they would discourage the use of Zoom for the following:

  • Governments worried about espionage
  • Businesses concerned about cybercrime and industrial espionage
  • Healthcare providers handling sensitive patient information
  • Activists, lawyers, and journalists working on sensitive topics

I would agree that if you fall into any of the above categories, do not use Zoom.

If you need an alternative use Teams which is designed specifically for business use and developed and owned wholly by US company Microsoft. Most people who use Office365 already have Teams included in their subscription.

Zoom does have some features you can use to improve security and the company has promised to work on it further. You may have heard of Zoombombing. This is where someone simply guesses the meeting code and joins your meeting by chance. You can stop this by requiring a password to join (set this up when you create the meeting – people joining with a link will not need to enter the password but those joining by typing the meeting ID in manually (or guessing it) will be prompted for a password), or by locking the meeting once it is underway to stop anyone else joining (the host can go to the participants list > More > Lock meeting).

For straightforward ease of use and for (the new) normal day-to-day conversations Zoom is good enough and you can consider the claims about lack of security to apply only to those of you working as spies.

David Hewett – Managing Director – iTeam Solutions Ltd

Furloughed? Access to Work Computers.

We’ve been asked several times what companies should do when they furlough staff who have company-owned phones and laptops at home? Should they be made to switch them off for the entire time?

No, I do not agree that business devices in the possession of staff who are furloughed should be switched off for the entire time. I think that the employer has a duty to tell them that the terms of the furloughing are that they are not allowed to work. You are not going to want to have people doing helpdesk jobs, or paying the wages for instance, but they might want to occasionally check emails to keep in touch or do something in order to ensure that their job and the business stays viable and nobody in the world is going to tell them they can’t or that this is a bad idea. They might want to forward sales enquiries to someone who isn’t furloughed or take the opportunity to do some online training, research, writing – it might be something to do with the company but not their actual job. Using company assets to do this might help them perform better when they return, help with boredom and/or improve their mental health whilst they are stuck in isolation at home.

I expect each employer will take a different stance, but as long as they tell their furloughed staff that they cannot work then they have met their obligations.

It is not for us to lay down the law on what people can and cannot do, it might not even be a law but just a guideline and we do not want to be accused of what is in essence taking it all a bit too seriously when a huge dose of common sense is what is required. I firmly believe that now is not a time for pendantry

If the government tell employers that they must take every possibly step to ensure that furloughed staff cannot work or have any access to work resources or contact anyone in relation to work whatsoever my advice would be different .. but then we would be in a police state and world will already have gone to hell in a handcart.

David Hewett – Managing Director – iTeam Solutions Ltd

SIP Trunking encompasses all your Communications requirements

SIP Trunking encompasses all your Communications requirements

Another abbreviation for your ever-growing list, this time, however, it’s an important one.

In the world of communications, ISDN, VoIP & PBX… it’s time for SIP to take the centre stage, with its ability to save you a lot of time, but most crucially, money.

 

So, what is SIP Trunking?

Session Initiation Protocol, more frequently known as just SIP. An application layer protocol used to create and terminate data and voice transfers, also a type of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which refers to calls distributed over the internet.

VoIP is based completely on SIP, using a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to send and receive calls. Replacing the soon to be obsolete Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), a system that transmitted data and voice digitally over physical wires.

 

Is SIP worth thinking about?

Worst case scenario, your business is still using ISDN & a PBX to facilitate your calls, in which you’re perhaps thinking, what’s wrong with ISDN…?

When it launched back in 1986, (yes, it’s that old), it was a great choice for businesses to adopt. The ability to deliver voice and data over one line, it was a technology fantasy, nowadays there is a range of better, improved options available.

If you’re contemplating a switch, not only is it cheaper to maintain; it’s also lower costs on a day-to-day basis… you could save up to 50% on line rentals and up to 25% or more on call costs. With a lot of SIP providers offering free internal calls, which is very handy for medium-sized businesses.

 

Making the big move to SIP Trunking

With its elasticity and ease of growth, SIP offers you reliability in your business. You had need not to worry about disturbance or outgrowing your premises, SIP Trunking can support growth in a graceful manner.

SIP Trunking isn’t the only option out there, in which you may be thinking – If you don’t have a PBX, Cloud Hosting Telephony is a brilliant alternative, which could very well be the future of communications throughout your business.

With ISDN ending in 2025, as announced by BT themselves, the benefits of SIP can change the way you move forward as a business.

 

We’re iTeam.

If you’re bewildered by the prospect of reviewing your Comms & connectivity, we can help.

We’ll get to know your business and create the most appropriate solution to meet your technical requirements while being commercially sensible in cost. Please contact the team today.

DON’T GET HELD BACK BY SLOW BROADBAND SPEEDS!

DON’T GET HELD BACK BY SLOW BROADBAND SPEEDS!

Just how good is your broadband speed?

Currently, internet connectivity is as important to our livelihoods as flowing water. Despite being in the country’s capital, you might still be suffering from a lack of full-fibre broadband, which is holding back the efficiency of your business and is ultimately costing you time & money.

But there are options available – just because the great big network operators aren’t connecting your building to superfast services, doesn’t mean that you can’t get admission to faster services via different means.

 

SOUNDS PRICEY…

Yes, as you would expect, connecting a dedicated fibre line (a Fibre Leased Line) into your business is pricier when compared to out-of-date broadband services. But! With most businesses, this doesn’t mean you have to surge your comms budget. If you are still using ISDN lines for your telephony, then you have some varieties.

ISDN, still the staple of voice infrastructures for most businesses, has its end-of-life already in the distance following well above 30 years of use. BT have announced their intentions to ‘switch off’ all these services by 2025, and therefore drive forward the implementation of VoIP (Voice-over-IP) telephony by businesses in the country.

By choosing to bin your use of ISDN whenever your contract ends, you can benefit from the immediate cost savings, which in turn can fuel the budget for the Fibre Leased Line.

 

WHAT DO I DO ABOUT TELEPHONE CALLS?

By revamping to full-fibre, you will have the internet speed & line consistency to make VoIP a prospect. VoIP instead carries your voice calls over your broadband connection, and no longer over the copper ISDN cables.

Employing VoIP doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable & pricey experience – there are so many exclusive services and choices available these days, with such a competitive marketplace ensuring costs are kept to a minimum. Switching from older forms of telephony doesn’t mean you have to leave your partners behind; you can swiftly & easily port these across onto VoIP, enabling you to carry on making & receiving calls as you always have.

 

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

There are several different facets of such a project… but, we’re here to help.

At iTeam, we specialise in learning our clients’ business and best-applying security technology to their needs.

If you would appreciate a free brief discussion about your operational challenges & to explore the threats to your business, please get in touch today.

SAVE MONEY & CUT ISDN TELEPHONY

SAVE MONEY & CUT ISDN TELEPHONY

Are you still using ISDN in your business…?

As opposed to PSTN, (Analogue Lines), that are usually used at home for your phone & broadband line, ISDN, (Integrated Services Digital Network), combines multiple pairs of copper cables, authorising businesses to operate with several telephone calls at once. Following the pattern with all legacy forms of communication, ISDN is pricey and restrictive; often seeing businesses spend several hundreds of pounds per quarter for telephone lines & calls alone.

ISDN is the still the chief of voice communications for most businesses, but the end-of-life is already in the distance for this 30 plus-year-old technology. BT have aired their intentions to ‘switch off’ all these services by 2025, and therefore drive forward the adoption of VoIP (Voice-over-IP) telephony by trades up and down the country.

 

SHALL I CHANGE OVER NOW?

There has never been a better time to examine your communications by choosing to axe your use of ISDN whenever your contract ends. You can benefit from the instantaneous cost savings while growing your elasticity by moving to VoIP technology.

Introducing VoIP shouldn’t be a distressing & pricey experience – there are many different services and options available these days, with such a competitive marketplace ensuring costs are kept to a minimum. Switching from older forms of telephony doesn’t mean you have to leave your numbers behind; you can promptly & easily port these crossways onto VoIP, enabling you to carry on making & receiving calls as you always have.

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY INTERNET CONNECTIVITY?

Switching from ISDN to VoIP means that your calls will no longer be petrified over those pairs of copper cables, but instead across your upmarket broadband connection. Plausibly, this means you’ll require a reasonably swift & steady internet connection to handle your volume of voice traffic, in addition to the data usage for visiting websites, sending/receiving emails and using cloud tools.

In some areas this isn’t an instantaneous possibility – if your business suffers from slow ADSL speeds, and has yet to benefit from access to a fibre connection of some form, you may be anxious about the prospect of doing away with the stability of ISDN.

But! In many cases, we’ve seen the savings made from switching from ISDN to VOIP aid in the explanation and funding of a dedicated fibre, (known as a Leased Line), connection. By upgrading to a Leased Line, you’ll benefit from a superfast fibre connection directly from your premises to the BT Exchange and achieve a much quicker connection, which is stable and supported by the network operator on a contractual service level agreement.

As Leased Lines are run on a dispersed basis to each premises, you are not constrained to the restrictions of the current Openreach fibre rollout plans – which sees fibre run only from the Exchange to the local cabinets, (with copper still being used between your building & the cabinet as before). Leased Lines, among various other connectivity options, are open to businesses wherever you may be sited.

With the extra speed & data capacity brought with the installation of a Leased Line, any pain of switching to VoIP is eliminated. Your Leased Line would be more than suitable to carry your voice traffic over VoIP, meanwhile providing your team with a much faster & reliable connection to the internet than ever before.

 

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

There are several different facets of such a project… but, we’re here to help.

At iTeam, we specialise in learning our clients’ business and best-applying security technology to their needs.

If you would appreciate a free brief discussion about your operational challenges & to explore the threats to your business, please get in touch today