Posted on February 27, 2015 by Dan Quick
There’s a lot of noise out there in the worldwide interwebz, we get it. But beyond all of the pseudo-science, cat videos, and conspiracy theories there are also some gems, too. We’re known to mine for them from time to time and want to share this week’s best of the internet with you. Because you deserve it.
Because not everyone thinks that history is as important as their own world views-
Because the Father of Modern Design-Led Business deserves some recognition-
Because speaking about design, a nice interface can make problem-solving more fun-
Because there’s more than one way to deal with overflowing landfills-
Because sometimes graffiti comes in moving pictures-
And because jackhammers aren’t the only way to beat up works of art-
Protect ya Neck, The VirtualPBX Security Serial – Lenovo’s Dirty Little Secret
Posted on February 25, 2015 by Dan Quick
In this series of blogs we will examine all topics under the information security umbrella. From corporate blunders to rogue state attacks to the occasional celebrity hack, we believe there is something for businesses and individuals to learn from any cyber security event. We also believe that, while experience is the best teacher, it’s even better to let other people make the mistakes for you.
Trust for Sale
Would you buy a home from a man who was convicted of Breaking and Entering? How about taking a trip with a taxi driver who has had his license suspended? Probably not, right? Fortunately there aren’t many respectable businesses out there entreating us to part with our hard-earned dollars just to take advantage of our trust with a good ‘ol switcheroo. Well, unless you recently bought a Lenovo computer, that is.
Malware Included at no Extra Cost!
Things really may not be as bad as I described above, but the story is pretty horrifying nonetheless. Lenovo admitted to preinstalling Superfish adware to certain laptops with the intention, “to help customers potentially discover interesting products while shopping.” However, the software allegedly does more than the company suggests it was supposed to. By allegedly installing its own self-signed certificate authority, the software can inject ads into encrypted “https” websites, including secure retail or banking pages. If only there was some sort of paper trail of Superfish’s previous work to give an indication of their track-record with privacy and security concerns. But let’s keep it about Lenovo for now…
Original statements from Lenovo’s CTO said that this threat of piracy and data compromise presented by the software was only theoretical. In a decisive rebuttal, however, Errata Security’s CEO, Robert Graham, outlined detailed instructions on how exactly (and for not much investment, about $50) a hacker could set-up a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot to take advantage of compromised Lenovo computers. Whether someone has the knowhow and motivation to create such a trap with only a few bucks and some time to kill is beside the point. The crux of this issue lies in the fact that users shouldn’t have to worry about preloaded software on their brand new devices potentially harming them.
So You Bought a Lenovo, Now What?
Fortunately, the hardware that had Superfish pre-installed came in computers shipped in a relatively small window beginning in September 2014 continuing for a still-as-of-yet-uncertain period thereafter. Not sure if you have Superfish on your computer? Because Lenovo’s first two attempts to correct the issue were terrific acts of futility, I would first suggest diagnosing if you are at risk. To do that, there is a brilliantly elegant and simple diagnostic interface designed to automatically detects Superfish and other, similar threats. Simply go to the appropriately-named Badfish tool and the website will handle the rest. Spoiler Alert- you don’t want it to say, “yes.” If you do have the malware on your computer, you can check and the latest correction Lenovo has published, but I would advise returning to Badfish after rebooting after following their instructions to make sure that your computer is clean.
Aftermath- Show Your Work For Full Credit
How did Superfish actually contribute to Lenovo committing one of the (if not the most) egregious breach of consumer trust of the personal computing era? In a word, Komodia. Komodia is responsible for providing the fake certificate Superfish used in its programming that gave it access to the secure information that it should not have seen. Here’s where it gets a little scary, Komodia’s technology is easily compromised and has been utilized by what claims are 100s of clients including Fortune 500 companies for applications like parental control apps or anonymous search applications.
And if That Wasn’t Bad Enough
This means that, according to Marc Rogers, a security researcher for CloudFare, the same inherently dangerous, fundamentally flawed technology that was in Superfish exists in many more products. I am not sure if the Badfish page will detect threats for everyone who has any type of parental control software installed, or who has ever come into contact with a Komodia product, but it seems clear that anyone who has should begin checking for malware. Now.
Sorry to leave you with some sobering news this time, but it’s a jungle out there. Stay safe and remember to Protect ya Neck.
Choose Your Business Adventure – SelectRoute
Posted on February 23, 2015 by Dan Quick
If you remember the popular adolescent fiction books, Choose Your Own Adventure, you know that the appeal of these books was that the reader decided how the story unfolded. At certain key moments in the life of the story, readers would be presented with options on how characters or story elements would behave, thus creating a unique narrative specific to each read. You are the both the reader and the author of your business’ story, and having options at every turn is as important as anything else in determining how the story unfolds.
Not All Businesses Fit The Mold
Having a handful of options in how to route calls is a nice feature available from advanced business phone system providers. But what happens to those businesses that don’t find their ideal method in one or two, limited options? Not getting the opportunity to build services the way that an entrepreneur wants is the laboratory in which she will test out her own possibilities. SelectRoute is the result of exactly that type of situation.
32 Flavors of Routing
To be honest, there really are as many varieties to route with SelectRoute as you can imagine. Seriously. But the point is that chocolate and vanilla are just the tip of the iceberg.
- Route calls by geography – Have callers input their postal code or area code and then route them to the agents or locations that can serve them the best
- Menu Routing – Route calls by menu selection
- Custom Routing – Route calls according to your own defined needs, from product numbers to invoices or case numbers, if there is a figure meaningful to your business, you can use it to route
You give your customers the products and services that they expect, why shouldn’t you get the same from your utility providers? VirtualPBX’s proprietary SelectRoute is emblematic of the flexibility inherent in well-designed VoIP phone systems. To get your call routing tailored to your business’ exact specifications, or for any other VoIP questions you may have, contact the routing experts at VirtualPBX today.
Success is a Fresh Roll – Franchise Phone Systems
Posted on February 20, 2015 by Dan Quick
There’s turmoil at the top of the McDonald’s flow chart and the world’s largest restaurant chain’s stock is reeling. Not all of the global fast food company’s heartache can be attributed to executive leadership, though, so it provides an opportunity to compare it to another fast food giant.
The Eat Fresh Franchise
Having just opened up its 30,000th location, Subway Restaurants is the largest collection of franchise business owners in the world. While the franchise model is in no way solely attributable to the relative health of the company compared to their Golden Arches rival, examining what makes a successful franchise is worthwhile nonetheless.
Granted that there are definitely franchisees who own more than one location, but having 30,000 separate entrepreneurs and all of their thousands more employees is an enormous impact on the economy. That many jobs means that maintaining a strong, viable brand is crucial for the success of the restaurant chain. For many franchises smaller than the multi-billion dollar hoagie colossus, there are certain tools that can be employed to help accomplish just that.
Business Standards Are Brand Standards
Just as every strong brand has guidelines to represent itself and its likeness in a particular, effective way, there are operational guides that should be established as well. This is no more important for any organization as it is for a franchise network.
Franchisers rely on a wide variety of partners who are afforded the opportunity to represent the brand, but are also charged with upholding its integrity. When you can’t expect to manage your team in a traditional, non-dispersed fashion, you have to ensure as much uniformity is integrated into the franchisee’s business model as possible. A great deal of that begins where most business does, on the phone.
Franchise Phone Systems
Franchise Phone Systems from VirtualPBX are the effective way to keep the public access of your franchise partners in tight, locked step. By initiating a Franchise Phone System you can execute a variety of functions that would otherwise be expensive, or require additional staff to accomplish.
- Reduce cost with consolidated phone expenses and unlimited lines
- Present one, toll-free national number for all of your franchise locations
- GeoRoute all incoming calls to the most appropriate local or regional office
- Create uniform and custom greetings and recordings for all of your locations
- Grow and expand your network of locations without any additional tech staff
- Plus manage this and much more all from anywhere you have an internet connection
For details on how to benefit your franchise from the use of a Franchise Phone System, contact one of our franchise experts today. They will be able to help you launch a total redesign of your regional or national franchise, but they won’t be able to help you make a Monster Mac. Enjoy.
Not All Routes Are Created Equal: User-Assignable Ring Times
Posted on February 18, 2015 by Dan Quick
VirtualPBX believes that you need to have the right options made available to you for a service to be worthwhile. That’s why we offer so many different strategies to use when routing your calls to traveling or dispersed workforces. But much like a growing company’s success can be a challenge if they don’t have the right partners who can scale with them as they grow, having these routing options are irrelevant if they don’t come with the preferences to use them appropriately. Enter, User-Assignable Ring Times.
Ringing 90 times before Voicemail Isn’t Helpful
With User-Assignable Ring Times, each extension can dictate how long a call rings on a given line before a routing action is taken. This means that if you are using Follow-Me Calling, and are at the fourth number you listed on your call forwarding cascade, you can shorten the ring time between each routing so that your customer gets to you sooner. Also, you can make sure that certain routing actions are given an appropriate amount of time to connect, too.
Not all Support Teams are Local
Okay, I admit, this is a shameless plug for the award-winning members of our VirtualPBX Support Team who are located right across the hall from me. In America. Sometimes, customer support agents are located overseas. If that’s the case, or if your after-hours support team is abroad or in another time zone, those types of transfers can take an added moment or two. Customers who are calling with problems are the most important calls, and having a trained professional from your team speak to them is crucial. Adding a moment or two extra to the ring time for these longer routing maneuvers might be prudent to keep them from being bumped to voicemail during the transition.
Whether you need to tweak your ring times a bit or if you have any questions about how to employ one of the many different routing options for your account, of course, you can get in touch with our Support Team. If I hear their phone ringing, I’ll let them know it’s you.