Hatton Garden & Cyber Crime

What does a gang of ageing criminals who pulled off an audacious £20m jewellery robbery have in common with cyber crime? Well, a lot more than meets the eye. Here our CEO Phil Race draws on the high-profile Hatton Garden heist to explain the scary and costly reality of today's cyber attacks – and the measures you can take to stop your business from becoming a victim. A must-read blog that's written for everyone in the company, whether in technology or not.

London, Easter 2015, and a crew of ageing criminals led by ringleader Brian Reader pull off an audacious heist from a vault in Hatton Garden. Diamonds, gold, jewellery and cash amongst a haul of over £20m according to Scotland Yard. A burglary that, according to the presiding Judge, Christopher Kinch, ‘…stands in a class of its own’.

What on earth does this have to do with Cyber Crime?

Well it’s great to have a physical parallel to the ethereal world of technology, and there are many lessons to learn that apply to both.

And here at AdEPT we think it’s a risk that deserves attention. It’s estimated that, on average, a cyber incidence costs an organisation $369,0001 with the loss of critical data, intellectual property and source files that can cost a company its reputation, let alone financial loss. Research also suggests that 27.9% of organisations will have a data breach in the next two years, with 61% reporting a cyber-attack in the past year.

In any risk assessment there’s a simple equation – Risk = Likelihood x Impact. With Cyber the equation is High Likelihood x High Impact = so, High Risk, therefore High Priority!
Yet, Cyber Readiness (as measured by the insurer, Hiscox) remains low – that’s despite intense regulation (GDPR et al) and a mass of education. In the Hiscox survey only 10% reached their defined Expert threshold with 74% classed as novices. This in-depth study looked at two dimensions of readiness; technology / process on the one hand, and oversight / resourcing on the other, and is well worth a read.

People

Back to Hatton Garden – during the heist the alarm actually went off! A security guard was dispatched to the building to investigate. After wandering round, on a quiet weekend evening, he reported that the building appeared secure and no alarm was sounding, a false alarm was declared.

The heist continued...

Human ill-discipline, lack of attention and poor processes are incredibly common as causes for cyber-crime. For example, the most common password in 2018 was ‘123456’2, with ‘password’ a close second! It’s no wonder then that every 14 seconds a business will be attacked by Ransomware, with the frequency and type of attack rising every year. Criminals are targeting the weakest link – us humans!

So, the cheapest, but potentially the most difficult, defence against Cyber Crime is trained employees. Any Cyber defence strategy should look first at making people aware of the risks and the consequences. As data files grow exponentially, with thumb drives & memory sticks allowing information to be so easily downloaded and shared, the impact of complacency can be widespread and crippling.

It’s no wonder then that there’s been a rise in Identity and Access Management (IAM) tooling. AdEPT are increasingly delivering two factor identification solutions – demanding fingerprint / evidence of ID using a second device – to prove an individuals’ identification before they are allowed to open the ‘digital door’.

The most common form of cyber protection helps here too, Endpoint Security / Antivirus. AdEPT are deploying a range of tools from market leaders such as Sophos, Symantec and McAfee that scan incoming threats and halt them before they get to that precious data.

Physical – the morphing boundary

Our Hatton Garden master criminal, Brian, and his crew spent two years planning the robbery. They visited the vault several times and obtained blueprints of the vault. They learnt that the building had been re-designed, leaving a weak point of entry – a lift shaft that gave easier access to the building. Leading in turn to a metal doorway. The thieves abseiled down the lift shaft, prized open the metal door and entered an area covered by CCTV – more on that later – a hallway perfect to house a massive drill.

So, despite the security firm’s best endeavours the ‘edge’ of the secure area in Hatton Garden had changed. This is not unlike businesses that are constantly morphing in terms of; technology, employees, buildings and working practices.

In the world of cyber, firewalls were deployed to create a clear technical ‘edge’ defence. An insurmountable barrier, digital barbed wire patrolled by cyber guard dogs. Firewalls remain a necessary defence, AdEPT deploy this technology across thousands of schools for example, but they’re no longer a solid barrier. The ‘edge’ now changes constantly with employees bringing their own devices, using their own applications, browsing the web from work devices, sharing data using memory sticks and working from home. The digital world has created a porous barrier.

Physical – the challenge of age

In Hatton Garden the vault security was old, with out of date CCTV, poor alarm systems, and weak doors. The criminals had identified all the weakness in ageing physical infrastructure.

This is no different to the systems embedded within businesses across the UK which can at times be unloved and un-maintained. There’s a great recent case study that demonstrates the risks of lack of maintenance.

The case study relates to a virus called WannaCry, where ageing Microsoft software created a technological open door for criminals.

In May 2017, IT Directors and Security professionals went white as a sheet as they learnt of the WannaCry ransomware attack, infecting unpatched systems running Microsoft. Although the NHS was not the specific target of the attack, the impact in this world alone proved significant: 34 trusts were directly infected, 80 trusts experienced some indirect disruption, and 603 primary care organisations suffered.

6,912 patients had to cancel or re-arrange appointments (including 139 patients with an urgent cancer appointment).

As a result, the NHS increased spending towards cyber by over £150m3. Truly a case of bolting the door after the horse had bolted.

It’s clear that there is no silver bullet to this type of crime but there are some basic actions that build defences, and removing the risk by continuously updating the IT estate is a necessity – not an option. It’s like fixing a car following an MOT to ensure that its safe to drive.

Can Cloud help?

At the end of the Hatton heist the criminals grabbed the hard drive, which was stored locally near the vault, and destroyed it – along with all the CCTV footage from inside the building. Yet again a low-tech security solution was easily foiled by the criminals.

Yet the risk of loss of images could, potentially, be easily remedied with storage of CCTV in the Cloud.

The Cloud is certainly a haven with expensive defences – AWS, Azure and all those other public cloud players invest massively in Cloud security. Microsoft alone fends off 7 trillion cyberthreats per day and allocates over $1 billion each year to cybersecurity4. It’s like a massive data vault – far bigger and more secure than a Hatton Garden hard drive for sure!

“Through 2022, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault” Gartner

Are criminals becoming more intelligent?

You can lock and bolt the front door, electrify the fences and buy in guard dogs. But, if you leave the back door open or invite the criminal fraternity into your data ‘house’, then all that security goes to waste.

The battle is constant, evolving, and with the advent of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics cyber-attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication.

Just like ‘Basil’, supposedly the red headed, bewigged, brains of the team, the criminals are getting more and more clever.

OMG – what can be done?

Cyber security is about people, processes and technology. We can’t blame ignorance anymore – the search term Cyber Security reveals 548,000,000 Google hits. There’s a mass of information out there.

Prevention is certainly better than fixing the resultant mess.

If Hatton Garden had undergone a risk appraisal, a cyber MOT if you will, I suspect they’d have spotted the out of date kit, the old-fashioned security and the flawed processes. They’d have probably fixed it for a little less than the £20m stolen? A range of tools exist to reduce that risk & probability equation. At AdEPT we’d recommend;

• Undertaking a risk assessmente
• Continually educating employees
• Evaluating and deploying tools
• Proactively maintaining the entire IT estate
• Understanding the boundary of your organisation
• Remembering that it’s a continuous process, as the threats morph and change/VoIP

According to the Telegraph in 2015 the Hatton Garden vault saw a floor “strewn with discarded safe deposit boxes and numerous power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars.” Of the £20m stolen in the Hatton Garden robbery some £9m is apparently still unaccounted for.

Cyber-crime doesn’t leave such a physical mess, but it does leave a financial, psychological, and in many cases brand, mess. So well worth checking those people, processes and technology.

1 Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2019

2 SplashData annual list

3 For local services, from 2018/9 to 2020/21

4 Tech Republic article – Feb 14th 2018

Written by Phil Race

CEO - AdEPT Technology Group

The Future of Managed Service Providers and Why it Matters to your Business

If you work in IT, you've no doubt heard about the pitfalls and positives of outsourcing your IT to a managed service providers. In fact, you don't need to work in IT at all – many business owners often consider if external IT support could make a difference to their business. In all cases, there's so much to think about – so our Head of Business Development for IT Services, Sami Malik has explored the past, the present and the future of managed service providers, and how this affects your business.

If you work in IT you may have heard about Birmingham City Council ending a 13-year IT and HR contract with Capita. It’s significant news in technology circles – after all, Capita is a multi-billion-pound outsourcing giant and Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in Europe.

Many have already questioned if the Council’s decision is a sign of things to come. Some argue that in the future, more and more organisations will abandon the long-running practice of outsourcing functions that are not core to the business. You may even be considering bringing your own services such as IT back in house – a process called ‘insourcing’. Or you may have written off the idea of ever outsourcing your IT.

Is it really that straightforward? Do IT outsourcing firms and managed service providers (MSPs) like us need to hang up our hats?

Thankfully, no.

But MSPs shouldn’t rest on their laurels. So it’s worth exploring why a polarising ‘outsourcing versus insourcing’ debate is not useful for anyone, including you and your business.

Paving the way: the iPhone and Office 365

Before we consider how companies might work with MSPs in the future, we need to look back.

Let’s start with the first iPhone. Released in 2007, it is one of the few modern gadgets that I consider a true disruptor. It transformed many of the time-consuming, laborious functions of our desktop machines into an elegant, accessible mobile format. Overnight, our love-hate relationship with technology became a love affair with the smartphone. Thanks in large part to the arrival of the iPhone, we would no longer settle for unreliable internet connectivity, clunky productivity tools and fiddly email processes. 

By the time smartphones had really got into full swing, including the arrival of Google’s Android, something else happened that’s crucial to the story of outsourced IT: Microsoft Office 365.

Prior to the arrival of this Cloud-based software in 2011, most businesses were wary of the Cloud and many still relied on physical software. This meant CD-ROMs or on-site servers; licensing and installation headaches; and painful upgrade processes.

When Office 365 arrived, it introduced businesses and their workforces to the Cloud. And most importantly, it did so on a huge scale.

Of course, we’d all been using the Cloud previously. The internet, emerging social media and iPods had been gently ushering us towards the concept of data being up there, somewhere. But because Microsoft Office was, and still is, so widespread, it meant there was simply no escaping the new era of the Cloud. It had arrived in the workplace to stay.

The turning point in our collective mindset

You may wonder why I’ve talked about the iPhone and Office 365. Ultimately, one is a handheld device that’s immensely popular around the world, and the other is a piece of productivity software that’s integral to the modern workplace. But it isn’t so much the literal function that matters here. It’s how they have transformed the mindsets of many.

In the case of the iPhone, it has spawned a world where people expect seamless user experience. They won’t tolerate inefficiencies in technology. They expect reliability, insist on simplicity and won’t tolerate speed that’s anything less than instant. And all of these expectations will only increase.

Meanwhile, Office 365 has shown businesses in droves that having their data in the Cloud needn’t be scary. It’s demonstrated that Cloud-based software and services are ideal for the modern workforce, where people no longer need to be chained to their desktop computer. It’s proved that Cloud software can easily grow with a business, in what’s now termed as ‘scalability’. And let’s not forget the cost savings. Like most Cloud-based services, Office 365 offers a way to reduce or remove certain aspects of capital expenditure. It can also do away with the expense and hassle of relying on, and maintaining, on-site servers.

Arguably, Office 365 has played a huge part in transforming business software – and by extension, business life. Companies large and small have now embraced the Cloud and want more of it.

What has this got to do with outsourcing and MSPs?

I’ve been working in technology for more than 20 years – through all of my career. I’ve seen the widespread adoption of mobile phones. I’ve seen the dot-com bubble burst. I’ve seen IT emerge from the dark depths of the hardware cupboard and into the boardroom.

And now, I see a common theme with so many businesses: the C-suite declaring ‘we need to move to the Cloud’.

Why is this happening?

Sometimes, senior management learns of another company, or competitor, migrating to the Cloud. And this brings out a sense of rivalry, or even prompts a reckless race to keep up.

Furthermore, using Office 365 has given the business an irresistible urge to go all-out Cloud.

Other times, the idea to move to the Cloud comes from the iPhone and Office 365 mindset that I’ve explored earlier. In such cases, staff are desperate for their business technology to mirror their personal user experience of their smartphones.

And it can go further than this. Employees are now demanding the service they experience at home in their workspace.  With fibre-to-the-premise providing fast internet access, Wi-Fi coverage in every corner of the home (and garden!) and devices powerful enough to stream high-quality content and video, the workspace has to, at least, be on par.

Whatever the cue, these Cloud migration aims are totally understandable – as I’ve discussed, there are numerous, huge benefits from making the move. But, the Cloud is not an overnight fix, or a matter of a few clicks. And it shouldn’t be a decision based on the Cloud migration of a peer or competitor – especially as every organisation is different in every possible way.

Additionally, moving to the Cloud is much, much more than a matter of technology. It affects  every business area: from production to HR, logistics to customer service.

It is this final point that brings me to MSPs. While some technology matters are perfectly suited to, and should be, the domain of in-house IT, a full Cloud migration requires business expertise that goes far beyond the technology department. And it’s for this reason that many businesses consult an MSP.

The changing role of the MSP

Returning to my opening gambit – the decoupling of Capita and Birmingham City Council – I’m very aware that outsourced IT firms and MSPs have attracted their fair share of controversy over the years. Some of the complaints about them – such as exorbitant fees, millstone-like contracts, lack of transparency – are entirely justified.

The positive news is that MSPs are evolving, doing so to meet the changing needs and expectations of the businesses they serve.

One example of this is the impact of the GDPR, which means MSPs now and tomorrow must take a much greater responsibility in supporting their clients’ information management and security. Another example of the changing MSP is the move away from only selling boxed hardware. This is because many companies are fully capable of handling the hardware aspect of technology – and quite rightly, will no longer accept the traditional ‘break-fix’ model of IT outsourcing of old.

As these business needs have evolved and diversified, the MSP market has been opened up. Naturally, this means there’s more choice than ever for a business looking for support with any kind of technology change. But with more choice, comes more confusion. And I see that confusion every day with businesses of all sizes and industries.

How does this all relate to your business?

I’ve focused on Cloud adoption here because it’s a dominant part of my work and one of AdEPT’s specialist areas. But if your business needs external help with any aspect of its technology, you might find yourself being baffled by choosing an IT supplier or indeed an MSP. This is because not only are there so many more providers to choose from – it’s because many providers do themselves no favours when it comes to explaining what they do and how they can help.

This is perfectly illustrated by the number of ‘as-a-service’ options now available from MSPs. There’s ‘DaaS’ or desktop-as-a-service; ‘ITaaS’ or IT-as-a-service; ‘CIaaS’ or Cloud-infrastructure-as-a-service; ‘PaaS’ or platform-as-a-service… the list goes on. My personal favourite is ‘BADaas’ which sounds like some kind of rebellious rockstar – it’s actually Biz-Application-Development-as-a-service…

It’s no wonder then, that businesses find navigating the world of MSPs intimidating before they’ve even found a provider. But it doesn’t stop there. Often, when an MSP is chosen, the negative experience can continue. And one reason for this is because too many MSPs fail to ask the right questions.

As I’ve described above, I’ve encountered many companies whose reason for getting in touch is ‘we want to move to the Cloud’. It’s at this point that the plan of action can go the right way or the wrong way. So, when I’m faced with such a statement, I’ll ask ‘Just what is it you want to achieve?’ or more simply, ‘Why?’

I never ask this to be obstructive. Instead, I’m playing my role in being a responsible MSP – one that goes beyond pushing technology for technology’s sake. It’s a question that sets out to unearth the real business needs and ensure, as a MSP, we’re going to make a genuine difference to your business.

Asking the right questions at the start is, of course, the tip of the iceberg and I could say much more on this, but that’s a blog in itself.

Instead, I’ll touch briefly on the other aspects of an MSP that should be a dealmaker for your business – now and in the future. A good MSP takes time to understand your business from the outset; a great MSP is ahead of technological evolution, not reacting to change when it’s too late; and an exceptional MSP invests in every phase of the relationship, from presales to support. These are the qualities that will make or break tomorrow’s MSPs and the businesses they serve.

Final points

By reading this blog, you’ve hopefully learned why the ‘outsourcing versus insourcing’ debate that’s spilling over from the public sector isn’t black and white. You’ve hopefully seen why and how MSPs are changing – and what businesses should now expect from those providers. And above all else, I hope you’ve had a taster of how an MSP should be helping your business.

Written by Sami Malik

Head of Business Development - AdEPT IT Services

Microsoft Office 365 Benefits & Features for Small Businesses

There are now a variety of software as a service (SaaS) packages available both for personal use and for small businesses.

Microsoft Office has been one of the largest industry forces for a long time and their subscription-based SaaS, Office 365 is no exception.

One of the reasons for this is that it has been designed specifically to help businesses of any size grow.

What is Included in Office 365?

First and foremost, Office 365 includes the ability to download and install desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (as well as Access and Publisher on PC only). This is backed up with 1TB of cloud storage as well as 50GB of dedicated email storage.

Each license allows for 5 registered devices to have the Office apps installed and they will always be kept up-to-date.

The Benefits of Using Office 365

Stronger Security

Small businesses can easily become the target for hackers. This is due to the difficulty these companies often face when it comes to investing in strong cybersecurity.

Office 365 comes with strong encryption that will protect your data at the same level as enjoyed by large enterprises.

Helps with Work Organisation

Office 365 will ensure that your company’s emails, calendar and contacts are always synchronised so everyone knows where to look in case of any last-minute changes.

This works across all devices too, so it is possible to make a change using a smartphone straight after a meeting safe in the knowledge it will be available immediately on the office computers.

Large Backup Storage

The professional Office 365 package comes with 1TB of cloud storage that can be used to back up anything. This is on top of a dedicated 50GB allowance that is set aside for emails. With 1TB of space, it is a simple matter to back up the entire contents of one or more hard drives.

Even if there was no storage plan in place and every single file was always backed up and no email ever deleted, it would take a long time to use up all the available space. With a little forward planning, there is little reason to ever need more.

Work Remotely

Flexibility is the key word when it comes to running any modern business. It is no longer enough to be limited to a single office with several computers. For any business to do well, everyone involved needs to be able to access software and materials anywhere at any time.

Thanks to its cloud-based software, Office 365 allows you to work anywhere with an Internet connection with little to no fuss.

Flexibility

One of the major advantages of cloud-based software is the ability for multiple users to collaborate in real time. With Office 365, it is possible for lots of different people to be working on the same document.

This is thanks to OneDrive which is Microsoft’s cloud storage platform which not only allows files to be edited after they have been uploaded, it will also allow for synchronisation so that files can be worked with offline too.

Reliability

Office 365 boasts an impressive 99.9% uptime. Between this and your SLA (service level agreement), you know that you are always going to have access to what you need.

Should there be any issues or maintenance on the horizon, you will be notified well in advance and there is a specialist dashboard that you can check just to make sure that everything is currently operating as it should be.

External Support

While there is no denying Office 365’s flexibility and power, minor problems can still arise. This will always be true regardless of which software package is used and so the best solution is often to have external IT support on hand to ensure that minor inconveniences never progress into anything worse. Dedicated support companies like Our It Dept will have the experience and knowledge to solve any issues pretty much immediately.

It always pays to utilise a service that provides more than simple tech support. The best thing for a small company is to find ways to optimise the software and solutions they have available. The most effective way to go about this is to use a company which is capable of providing advice on a broad variety of topics as well as updates on the latest cutting-edge technologies.

Office 365 is an industry leader for good reason and the software made available alongside the flexibility of cloud-based software and ample backup space make it the perfect SaaS package for small businesses.

All that is needed to get the most from it is the assistance of dedicated industry experts who can take all the extra time to troubleshoot problems and lead the way on innovative solutions so that your business can focus on fulfilling its maximum potential without having to worry. Get in touch below to find out how we can help.

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

How Microsoft Azure Makes a Difference to Your Business

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform which provides businesses with the opportunity to transform their IT use.

By outsourcing a range of computing services off-site to Azure’s secure servers, businesses can enjoy the benefits of increased flexibility and reduced costs.

This solution provides a large range of possible services covering infrastructure, software and platform services, without the need for on-site servers. Some of the applications a business may use Microsoft Azure for include:

• Virtual network
• Data storage
• Virtual machine hosting
• Application development
• Database management
• Backup and disaster recovery

With Microsoft’s expanding network of data centres across the globe, businesses can add cloud capability to their existing network or allow Microsoft to look after all their computing requirements. Depending on your business needs Azure can replace file server, email server or terminal servers used for remote access.

There are many potential benefits of entrusting your business computing services to Azure.

Reduced Costs

Installing on-site servers can involve large upfront costs, to which on-going maintenance and upgrade costs need to be added. With Microsoft Azure your company will effectively be renting your servers, paying only for what you require.

Added to this is the saving in energy costs since you will not be powering or cooling on-site servers anymore, as Microsoft will take that off your hands too

Scalability

A huge benefit of opting for cloud computing services with Azure is the ease of scaling them to suit your business needs. When you purchase a server to manage on-site the hardware within is usually generic, unless you have paid to upgrade it to contain something more precisely fitted for your business.

With Azure, you only pay for what you actually need. Instead of having to physically upgrade on-site server hardware you can easily scale up and down with Azure to meet company growth or seasonal trends.

Speed

Microsoft Azure is fast. In today’s world where speed can be essential in remaining competitive, Azure can help your business across three main areas in particular.

Their cloud services provide speed of deployment, speed of operation and speed of scalability, helping you retain an edge over your competitors.

Back up and Disaster Recovery

By using Azure and backing up your vital data to the cloud you remove the need for tapes and storing them off-site. By combining Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup Services you have the best way to protect both your infrastructure and your data.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is critical and Azure Site Recovery gives you the option to recover to the cloud or to a secondary site. Azure backup uses two secure separate data centres.

Support

Sometimes things go wrong, it is just a fact of life no matter how hard we work to avoid such problems occurring. By using Azure you will have access to Microsoft support, one of the biggest tech names in the business.

With a 24/7 support line, plus accessible consultants around the world, you can have peace of mind that quick solutions are to hand when issues do arise.

Compliance

Staying up to date with all the current regulations for your business niche and all the licensing for your software and hardware can be a challenge in itself. Microsoft Azure is designed with these demands in mind, providing the most comprehensive compliance offerings by a cloud service provider.

Whichever business market you operate in, Azure makes every effort to ensure your data is protected and compliant to regulations.

Security

Data is pivotal to your company’s success and protecting it is paramount. Cyber security is under increasing scrutiny with high profile hacking cases receiving widespread coverage.

Indeed, hacking costs businesses billions each year and causes often insurmountable trust issues with customers, leading to lost business. Microsoft Azure data centres are secure sites protected by two-tier authentication access. They employ a team 24/7 to work on and react to any potential cyber threats. The Azure Single Sign-on feature means you can set a business-wide password rather than individual passwords if you prefer.

Microsoft Azure is a flexible cloud computing platform which allows businesses to choose from a range of services and which supports any operating system language. Azure can be used as a hybrid service too, allowing you to integrate any existing services your business may have on-site which it wants to retain

If you are considering cloud computing services and remote support then our accredited Microsoft Azure cloud solution specialists can provide your business with expert advice on cloud services, including fully managed or hybrid options. Our award-winning customer service team can provide phone and remote support, giving you peace of mind that we have all your cloud computing needs fully covered.

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

PSTN – Telephony Switch Over, Are You Ready?

With the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) date moving ever closer, and the pressure to change solutions increasing, Peter Fisher discusses the right way to prepare.

Peter has been involved in the telecommunications industry for over 30 years and has broad experience across telephone systems, IP services, wide area networks and legacy telephone lines. He specialises in supporting business through transitions within their communications and technology environment, having done so for a wide range of organisations, including HCA Healthcare, Coca Cola, The Office Group and Fidessa…

Have a look at a recent bill and glance at the items listed:

If you see any of the above then you need to start thinking about your long term telephony arrangement. In short, anyone with an on-site PBX, telephone line, fax line, PDQ line or broadband line is affected and will need to make a plan.

What’s happening?

BT & Openreach had announced some time ago the intention to switch off the ISDN services from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by 2025. They have also announced, that they now intend to switch off the whole PSTN supply by 2025, with no new supply after 2023.

Although the most reliable solutions until now, PSTN and ISDN are rapidly becoming out of date technology, and expensive to operate and maintain. Openreach plans to invest instead in fibre infrastructure rather than further invest in a new version of the PSTN (essentially Victorian technology).

This means that anyone or any organisation still using traditional voice services (such as those listed above) will need to have moved to newer SIP and IP voice solutions by then, or won’t be able to use their phones.

What are SIP and VoIP?

The terms SIP and VoIP refer to telephony based services delivered using IP signalling.  Historically, these services have been delivered using technology and signalling which is now over 30 years old, such as ISDN30 and PSTN lines.

SIP services are generally used to connect lines to a telephone system and these are a direct replacement for the ISDN30 technology.

VoIP is a general term used to describe routing voice calls over an IP network, the term is closely associated with Hosted telephones, where a telephone system installed at a customers premises is replaced with a central system shared between many different companies.

What do I do now?

Essentially we all have 3 options.

It should go without saying, but consider how important your phones are to your business. Though 2025 may seem like a long way off, 6 years can fly by, it doesn’t seem like that long ago for example that Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as US President.

Recent studies have concluded that a large proportion of UK businesses are unaware the change is taking place. Don’t run the risk. Have a plan in place and be ready for the change. VoIP and SIP based solutions will almost certainly offer cost-savings if deployed correctly, offer more functionality for your business, and be future-proofed for years to come.

Though it is time to take action, that doesn’t mean now is the time to change – you may not be ready. It may not make economic sense, or you may not have resource available to manage the transition. You could make the wrong decision, and chose a solution that offers little or no additional benefits over your current service, or even worse, something that will future-proof your business for the next 10 years. Make an informed decision, you still have time – and options to explore…

AdEPT have decades of experience providing communication solutions to business, including traditional calls and lines based services, and more recently SIP and VoIP solutions, refining their portfolio to best match their customers’ requirements. AdEPT has already developed a number of IP and VoIP services which are available to replace the current PSTN and ISDN services and would be happy to discuss the benefits of these over your current solution.

AdEPT offers both new and existing customers alike the opportunity for a free telephony audit. This audit will review all of the telephony services currently supplied to your business, providing a report on the services and a recommendation of the actions needed to prepare for the withdrawal of the PSTN and ISDN network in 2025.

If you’d like to discuss you telephony requirements in more detail or to book a free telephony audit please get in touch using AdEPT’s Contact Details below.

Peter Fisher

General Manager, Network Services, AdEPT

Tel: 0870 14 34 343

Email: info@adept.co.uk

Web: www.adept.co.uk

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT named as the Best Telecommunications Integrator of the Year

AdEPT has been named as the Best Telecommunications Integrator of the Year 2017 and Game changer of the year 2017 by ACQ5 Global

AdEPT has been named as the Best Telecommunications Integrator of the Year 2017 and Game changer of the year 2017 by ACQ5 Global

We are proud to announce that AdEPT Telecom plc has been awarded Best Telecommunications Integrator of the Year 2017 and Game changer of the year 2017 by ACQ5 Global.
We have nearly 200 employees providing outstanding managed service solutions to nearly 20,000 customers including many of the most famous names in the UK in both the public and private sector.


Our managed service solutions include:-
• Multi-site, international data networks
• Voice – hosted and on-premise
• IT support – in our data centres or on your premises
• Unified Communications – linking your devices together seamlessly


We totally understand that work is what you do, not a place you go to

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT Education – Schools – Windows 7 Upgrade

In January 2020, Microsoft will end its support for the Windows 7 operating system and security patches will no longer be freely available. Although after this date, PCs will still operate, they will be increasingly vulnerable to new cyber security threats and should be upgraded at the earliest convenience.

Without the upgrade, your organisation will be at increased risk of successful cyber-attack, additional cost and decreased performance.

AdEPT Education are a Microsoft Authorised Education Partner, and can support you in preparation for this in 3 ways:

1). We can secure licensing for Windows 10 to replace Windows 7 for schools looking to do this themselves.
2). We can offer a one-off upgrade away from Windows 7 with limited remote support hours to get you through the transition.
3). You can subscribe to the AdEPT Education Remote Network or IT Technician services, providing discounted, pro-active, ongoing, specialist IT expertise and support to schools including cyber protection, data backups, software patching and updates, hardware procurement, disaster recovery, day to day maintenance and more.

If you’d like to discuss your Windows 7 migration or any other ICT needs please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

enquiries@adept.co.uk

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT Technology joins GLOBAL 100 Best Companies

When Ian Fishwick set up AdEPT 14 years ago, with just a PC and a phone in a spare bedroom, He never dreamed that one day he would announce this …

AdEPT has been named as one of the 2017 Global 100 Best Companies – Best Communications and Technology Solutions Provider in the UK

Please forgive me for grinning like a Cheshire Cat: we are now officially recognised as one of the Top 100 companies in the world. This just shows you what can happen when you surround yourself with an incredibly talented and hardworking group of employees. No-one can achieve something like this on their own; it is just impossible. One of the great things is that our staff are not just extremely experienced; they are also really nice people to work with.

Even after 14 years I still believe that people who say “put your customer first” have got it wrong.

You need to put your employees first as I have never seen a disgruntled person give good service.

Here is an excerpt from the notification AdEPT received …

Welcome to the 2017, Global 100, consisting of only 100 of the World’s leading firms and individuals, with votes received from our global readers in 163 countries worldwide.

The purpose of the Global 100 is to provide the readership with a comprehensive understanding of those firms that are truly leaders within their chosen area of specialisation.

It is a requirement for all of our programs of recognition to recieve no less than 23% in votes from the global readership currently in excess of 151,000.

The judges have been asked to focus strongly on the complexity and strategic significance of work conducted.

I want to thank all of our customers and investors for showing their faith in us, but sometimes “thank you” just doesn’t seem a big enough phrase.

Ian

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

VoIP Advantages & Disadvantages for Small Businesses

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is now more than just a trendy new technology. VoIP is growing in use worldwide as businesses realise its advantages over conventional means of calling.

However, as with all new technology, VoIP comes with some downsides. As a small business looking to introduce VoIP into your organisation, you need to have a clear understanding on both sides of the coin.

This article explores what VoIP is as well as advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision as you transition.

What is VoIP and what are the advantages and disadvantages for small businesses?

VoIP (short for Voice over Internet Protocol), is a service that allows users to make calls over the Internet or network. The service works by converting analog voice signals into digital packets of information.

These packets are then sent over the Internet to a recipient with an Internet connection on any part of the globe. At the receivers end, the packets are decoded back into voice signals thereby allowing conversations.

Advantages of VoIP for Small Businesses

VoIP offers many benefits to small businesses across the world. Among them are the following:

Lower Costs

Every business, large or small, closely monitors and protects its bottom line. For small businesses, in particular, limited budgets mean that you have to explore every possible cost-saving opportunity. One of the ways you can realise cost savings is by adopting a VoIP phone system. Unlike conventional calling systems, VoIP requires much less initial hardware to buy or lease. Additionally, monthly fees are also lower in comparison.

For long distance calls in particular, conventional calling systems are no match for the affordability of VoIP. The cost of maintenance is also lower for businesses who use cloud VoIP services. Lastly, most service providers will typically offer 24/7 support which means you do not have to include IT support expenditure into your budget.

Increased Accessibility

Other than cost efficiency, one other key benefit of VoIP is accessibility. A cloud-based VoIP service offers the unique ability to make calls from anywhere to anywhere on the globe. With the right credentials, anyone can access your VoIP account to make and receive calls from any location.

This is especially important to small businesses which may not have centralised physical offices. This VoIP capability allows you to bring your entire workforce, regardless of location, on the same communication channels. It also helps that VoIP services are not restricted to any device. You can enjoy the full VoIP service on your mobile phone, tablet and computer with great ease.

Seamless Portability

On registering for VoIP services, you are assigned a VoIP number, also known as a virtual number. This number is completely portable meaning you can use the same number regardless of your location.

Even in the event you change your business address, you retain the same virtual number. This is important for small businesses who are still just trying to find their feet.

Higher Scalability

This is one of the most talked about benefits of VoIP particularly among start-ups and small businesses but what exactly does it mean? As a small business or startup, you are looking for services that just cover your needs without having to overspend in anticipation of future growth.

VoIP gives you that option. You only pay for the service you need. In case you expect a spike in demand during the holidays or you are adding staff members, just toggle your preferences and you are good to go. No need to purchase dedicated hardware or additional lines to cover short-term or growth needs.

Numerous Helpful Features

Other than calling services, VoIP also offers several other advanced features that can be particularly helpful to small businesses. These features include;

  • Auto attendant and call transferring which allows even a one-person business project an image of a large corporation.
  • Multi-party calling capabilities mean that a business does not have to contract a separate conference call provider.

Better Voice Quality

Although this was a challenge during the early stages of VoIP, the situation is now completely different. Having a robust Internet connection with good bandwidth means you will hear crisp and clear sound with no lag, latency issues or dropouts.

Supports Multitasking

In addition to traditional phone calls, VoIP also allows you to send images, documents and video. This means you can have more integrated meetings with your staff, clients or customers from all parts of the world.

Increased Security

Part of the biggest problem we face in the information age is the security of our data and information.

By leveraging advanced IP technology such as identity management and encryption, VoIP helps secure your data and information from potential attackers. Hosted VoIP providers take it upon themselves to protect their clients’ information.

Disadvantages of VoIP to Small Businesses

As with all forms of technology, VoIP also has some disadvantages. They include:

Reliable Internet Connection Required

You cannot operate a VoIP phone system if you do not have a reliable Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth. Additionally, the quality of service will depend on the quality of your Internet connection.

Latency

Given that the information packets have to be reassembled to make a successful call, low bandwidth can make some calls delay, lag or even disappear. However, as newer and more sophisticated algorithms come into use, this is becoming less of an issue.

Power Outages

VoIP services require a constant Internet connection and a power source. If any of these services fail, you have no communication network. This can be frustrating in areas that experience extended power outages.

No Location Tracking for Emergency Calls

In a VoIP service, calls come from an IP address with no cell tower information or GPS data. This might make it impossible for emergency services to track call location in case of an emergency.

Evaluating the pros and cons of VoIP to a small business, it is clear that the benefits outweigh the few drawbacks.

To discuss VoIP for your business, be it small or otherwise please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

enquiries@adept.co.uk

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT