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365iT Blog

Phishing emails: the importance of vigilance

Email remains a vital communication tool for most businesses but sadly also provides a vehicle through which cyber-attacks can be launched. It remains good advice to not open any attachments or click any links that you are not 100% sure are genuine.

A small number of our customers were recently sent an email from the email account of 365IT employee containing a link asking them to enter their credentials to gain access to a non-specified PDF. This was not a genuine email. We contacted all customers who received it to advise them not to click on any of its links and to delete it. We of course regret this email was sent and any inconvenience it may have caused customers who received it. We have taken steps to ensure no further such emails will be sent from our employee’s account.

This incident is a timely reminder for us and our customers of the importance of not taking requests received online at face value. We all need to be awake to the risk and consider our actions carefully when we’re connected to the internet.

CX17: Take a leap into the Digital World

365IT and 5i, is sponsoring Enghouse Interactive’s annual CX17 conference. The focus of this year’s contact centre event is ‘Take a Leap into the Digital World’ and will be held at the 5 star Hilton Hotel, London Olympia on 27 September.

365IT and 5I will be presenting the following session at the event:

  • 13:45 – 14:15 Bringing Stronger Customer Relationships through Enghouse

The full agenda for the day can be viewed here.

To reserve your seat, click here 

Cyber Security Monday: Watch the WatchGuard Webinar Series

365IT recently ran a series of security webinars with the aim of keeping customers up to date with all the latest news and views from one of our leading security vendors, WatchGuard.

Secure Cloud Wi-FiEach session featured insights from 365IT’s Richard Jackson, EMEA WatchGuard Engineer of the Year, and an in depth demo positioning the latest security proposition from WatchGuard Technical Consultant, Martin Lethbridge.

Click on the titles below to watch each session:

If you have any further questions regarding any of the topics covered please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Talk to one of our security experts on 0118 988 1133 or email us at marketing@365itms.co.uk.


Trust, collaboration and consumer choice: Welcome to 21st century customer service

Customer service has come a long way. Even the term ‘Customer Service’ does no longer fully describe the scope of the business to consumer interaction. Today, a new term has arisen: ‘Customer Experience’, and customer experience is now the number one priority for many consumer-facing organisations*

It’s all about the customer

Delivering the best customer experience may be a priority, but it’s not always straightforward. Rising consumer expectations and changing digital behaviours have made it challenging for businesses to provide the level of service they would like.

Group of coworkers at an office brainstorming and presentation

The challenge is two-fold. Firstly, to give the best customer experience, you have to know everything about your customer. You have to have visibility of all their interactions, from purchase history to open orders to recent sales calls. A single, up-to-date joined-up view of the customer is essential.

The second challenge is to give the consumer choice. Seven out of ten people own a smartphone and will use it in the way they feel most comfortable: email, SMS, web interface or call. As a business you’ll want to engage with your customers in the way that suits them, whenever, however and through whatever digital channel they choose to use.

Technology is leading the way

Technology that supports a more collaborative approach and empowers a connected customer journey will help to improve customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and improve brand loyalty.

One key area where technology is enabling businesses to improve customer experience cost effectively is by introducing a self-service option. According to a survey of contact centres by Cisco, 80% of respondents included self-service in their two-year plan for their business. The development of web-based self-service options for consumers will enable those who work in customer service to focus on value-add activities, such as up-selling and cultivating customer relationships. As simple queries can be resolved via a web interface, only more complex issues need to be escalated to a customer service representative. Businesses can serve more customers without increasing headcount.

Technology enables the single view of the customer that is so critical. Connected systems and real-time data capture ensure that individual customer information is always up-to-date. And easy-to-use dashboards give those in customer service the tools they need to give a seamless customer experience, regardless of whether the customer is texting, emailing or using web-chat.

365IT: Supporting the customer journey

It’s difficult to emphasise just how much technology underpins the way that companies can enhance their customers’ experience. At 365IT we see the difference it makes for our clients every day.

We help our clients improve their customer experience through technology that promotes collaboration and gives visibility of real-time consumer interactions. Naturally, we take a collaborative approach to this, working in partnership with our customers to support them day to day, always ensuring their IT is configured for growth.

You can find more information on customer experience and collaboration click here.

If you’d like to encourage collaboration with your customers, or even between your employees, get in touch. We’ll take stock of what you have now and where you’d like to be in the future, before suggesting a way forward that fits within your plans.

Call: 0118 988 1133
Email: sales@365itms.co.uk

The Paradigm Shift in UC

Has Unified Communications [UC] undergone a fundamental paradigm shift in 2016? By this I’m referring to a switch from on-premises based solutions to cloud subscription offerings, i.e. Cloud PBX, or rather Cloud UC.

If you go to any UC trade show these days, it seems that if you throw your newly garnered freebie stress ball into the crowd (don’t try this at home) you’ll hit more Cloud PBX/UC providers than you thought you could, there’s an ever increasing number of offerings in this arena.

phil-cantore-blog-imageCloud PBX and hosted telephony has been around for years and has moved on a long way from just being telephony via the Internet, it now comes with the other things we expect from Unified Communications [UC] including Instant Messaging and Presence [IM&P], video conferencing, native application integration and APIs (some folks now say “it’s all about the API” but that is another tale for another day).

The use case, work flows and cost profile for Cloud UC is going to be very different for a small company at a single site with 10s of users as opposed to one with 100s or 1,000s. For the small company it’s a “no-brainer”, go for it. For a larger company you need to take as much care [if not more] in selecting your Cloud PBX/UC provider as you would for on-premises solutions. Why? Because of the fundamental change in financing the systems, Cloud PBX features do not match those of on-premises systems, you may also be throwing away significant existing investment and removing functionality that you already have and use, e.g. LDAP based user credential checking! Also consider that the larger the Cloud PBX requirement (1,000s of users) the longer it will take to migrate systems, let alone add/change functions such as contact centres, voice recording, IM&P compliance/logging or custom usage/KPI reporting. In this regard, not all Cloud PBXs are equal.

Other aspects have also moved on in the last few years for the Cloud PBX, it’s no longer just about getting the cheapest call rates – it’s the extra things too, things like:

  • Excellent user experience/interface
  • Excellent self-service management portal/interface
  • Endpoint/client options and features; IM&P, persistent chat, desktop share, video…
  • Anywhere and any device working
  • Software only solutions, exclusively browser based communications
  • Always up to date apps

However, with Cloud PBX offerings you typically have to take what you’re given and accept any updates and UI changes as they’re issued. If you don’t like it, you can switch to another provider, can’t you? Hmm… never underestimate the potential level of change or disruption – if you’re looking at Cloud UC be sure you choose your provider wisely the first time round.

  • Now also consider PSTN access, what are your choices?
  • Do you have to use the Cloud PBX’s own centralised service and their set tariff?
  • Do you need a separate direct agreement with the Cloud PBX’s preferred provider?
  • Can you use or choose your own/existing PSTN access provisions?
  • Can your PSTN access be on-premises?
  • Does it include PSTN minutes/bundles?

Also in the mix now are niche hosted providers that you actually [sort of] invest in. Here I mean; delivered like a Cloud PBX where you pay per-user-per-month but at the end of a X-year agreement you can carry on with them, or move your ‘new’ license assets to someone else’s platform, or even take it back on-premises! This is a great option if you have to upgrade an out of support platform or have a complex relocation to perform!
The Cloud PBX/UC providers give us the platform and a portal to configure things – the expectation is that you’ll know how to and be eager to set it all up yourself. But what if you can’t, who sets these things up and keeps them running with respect to value for money, business needs and communications workflows?

So what about “the 2016 UC paradigm shift” in the title?CISCO

Everything from the vendors is cloud, cloud, cloud… and annuity subscriptions. So yes there is a paradigm shift in our consumption model of UC and it’s happening fast. But however good the price, the user experience/interface there is still the underlying need to correctly specify, design, implement, maintain and evolve our communications environments – many are not equipped to do this for themselves. I think as a part of this shift, we’ll see more of the resellers that sell the on-premises UC solutions providing the consulting and professional services for the new Cloud UC offerings (just as they do for on-premises) as a managed service, perhaps even including the fee as a part of the Cloud PBX subscription.

“And finally…”

What about the next big cloud communications game changer – for me (crystal ball gazing) it will be when Apple delivers their own Cloud PBX solution as an iOS update, for then we will truly live in “interesting times”.

Authors notes: (1) Cloud PBX and Cloud UC are almost interchangable terms these days. I’ve used both here, hopefully both will you’ll get the gist of what I mean by each from the context. (2) I’ve worked for systems integrators and resellers, mostly for on-premises UC solutions or as bespoke hosted solutions. The vendor solutions I work with (mostly Cisco and Microsoft) both offer Cloud PBX solutions, in addition to their on-premises equivalents. (3) There is a significant vendor, and user, momentum to drive these solutions to the cloud. (4) In this post I have ignored resilience and connectivity to the Cloud PBX, 9-times-out-of-10 the weakest point will be the access circuits to the Internet or direct to the provider. (5) If a larger number of voice/video channels/sessions are required, on-premises based PSTN access can be advantageous in order to save on bandwidth. (6) The advantages of continuous development and always up to date apps can be a two edged sword for users; it cuts both ways – being always up-to-date is very good in my opinion but if major changes are foisted on you they can be significant and also force changes to the way you want to work.

Should you worry about security risks from within your company?

In September 2016 the security watch site ‘IT governance’* listed forty separate data breaches for that month alone. Some of these were caused by deliberate hacking, but the vast majority were down to simple human error. From tweeting user login details to lost laptops, the list makes alarming reading.

Server Room in datacenterThese data breaches were, in some cases, huge and the high profile nature caused the organisations involved a lot of damaging press coverage and a hefty fine. In many cases the finger of blame pointed to employees. Laptops containing sensitive data ‘shouldn’t’ have been left unattended, hard drives should be disposed of properly, and pictures containing login details shouldn’t be tweeted to thousands of followers.

But the point is that none of this was intentional or malicious on the part of the employees involved. It may have been due to an oversight, or a mistake – but how many of us never, ever make a mistake?

Well-meaning but only human

Despite people’s best intentions, a serious security risk in many businesses today is the actual employees. From writing a password on a post-it note kept underneath the keyboard, to letting a child play with your phone, it really is too easy to have an ‘oops’ moment.

Our philosophy is that rather than lecture people on data responsibility or rely on training alone to help promote best practice, we should expect employees to be ‘only human’ and use technology as a safety-net. That’s not to say that we should go without training, or promote risky behaviour. Security benefits from a two-pronged approach of personal responsibility and the right technology. Employees need to be aware of the risks and should understand the care they need to take; technology can be there for when things don’t go to plan.

Here are three examples of how you can use technology to safeguard your data against employee mistakes:

  1. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: With VDI, all user configurations and data is stored on a secure server – either on-premise or in the cloud. Users access their ‘desktops’ (or mobile / tablets) through a secure portal to the central server. From the users’ perspective their local device looks and behaves like a standalone machine, but in reality it’s only an interface between the user and the server. The configuration and data never actually resides on the device and once the session is terminated, no data footprint remains. Whether at their own desks, travelling or working from home, it’s impossible for employees to lose data because it never actually moves outside the network.
  2. Encryption: Where VDI isn’t an option, perhaps because network access isn’t possible or desired, then data can be stored and sent using encryption. When your data is encrypted it’s unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the key. Therefore, even if an employee’s laptop is stolen (or left on a train), encryption ensures that the lost data is not a risk to your organisation. Typically email is sent as plain text unless you take specific steps to incorporate encryption when sending messaging outside your company.
  3. Mobile device management: MDM is focused on protecting your company network from mobile devices, either company or employee-owned. It can include encrypting data, and will often implement a layer of security to access the device, such as a PIN. It will check there is no malware lurking on the device before it’s allowed to communicate with the company network. If the device is lost or sold on, then any attempt to remove or change the PIN will automatically wipe the device of any company data.

Balancing risk with productivityBusinessman Working Dashboard Strategy Research Concept

Traditionally, security is seen as a trade-off between risk and flexible, productive working. But choose the right technology and the trade-off is not so limiting. If you use MDM then you can allow employees to use their own phones for scheduling at work – which in turn makes them more productive when they’re out of the office. Or using a VDI platform means that employees can be more productive when they travel, or even choose working from home.

As we mentioned above, we don’t believe you can legislate against human nature. But with technology you can plan for those ‘accidents’ and make sure your business doesn’t suffer as a result.

For more information on ‘real world’ security for your business, contact one of our team:

Call: 0845 5055 365

Email: sales@365itms.co.uk


Introduction to Windows Server 2016 – Register today!

365IT are pleased to announce the continuation of our Autumn 2016 series of technical briefings with an Introduction to Windows Server 2016.
The briefings will be of interest to IT Managers that need to get up to speed quickly on this latest operating system release and focus on the innovations and improvements that come with Windows Server 2016.

  • Hyper-V (Nested virtualisation, Virtual TPMs, Shared VHDS files, Hot add disks/memory, Shielded VMs)
  • Introduction to Nano server
  • Clusters (Improved VM reliability in Clusters, Node Quarantine, Rolling upgrades)
  • Storage (Storage migration, Storage QoS, Storages Spaces and Storage Spaces Direct)
  • Security (Device Guard / Code Integrity, Containers / Docker Support, Defender, Shielded VMs, Secure Boot)

windows-server-2016If you would like to register for our free technical briefings with an Introduction to Windows Server 2016 on 2nd November in our Poole office and 17th November in our Riseley office, please click here.

Supporting the Community

365IT is passionate about helping the local community and charities. In addition to company-wide initiatives, we also support our staff by providing them with the opportunity to take leave in order to carry out charity work of their choice.

Recently a member of our team, Michael Mettam, participated in an initiative run by Kennel Lane School in Bracknell, to enable students with special educational difficulties to obtain their ‘PADI Open Water’ scuba qualification.

Michael is a qualified PADI open water scuba instructor and saw an advertisement on the Divecrew Facebook page, asking for qualified instructor or assistants to assist in a pilot programme to teach children to scuba dive. As a Deptherapy Gold Star & IDC Centre, Divecrew are school’s specialists and adaptive instructors for the very nervous, and/or the physically, or mentally challenged.michael-mettam-pic-1

Over the course of the two days Michael provided one-to-one tuition with one of the students, working with him on 4 qualifying dives to meet the passing criteria.

Michael commented “it was great to have the opportunity to be involved with an exceptional group of children, who overcame their disabilities to qualify as PADI open water scuba divers. From my perspective it was great to see the children grow in confidence over the two days and to be able to help and support them was an extremely rewarding experience”.

To learn more about Kennel Lane School please click here and for Deptheraphy Education click here.


Forrester Report 2016: Hunting Insider Threats

Insider threats expose your organization to risks of fraud, identity theft, intellectual property exposure and damage to infrastructure. And that’s not to mention the loss of trust and reputation.

Visit Forcepoint to download the full report and understand more about the following topics:

  • How users with privileged access to sensitive data can put you at risk
  • The motivations of both unintentional and malicious insider threats
  • Why your program must focus on people and processes as well  as technology
  • How to promote grass-roots support for security among your employees

Download the report here.


365IT nominated for Best SME Contact Centre Solution at the Comms National Business Awards

cna awards logoWe are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Best SME Contact Center Solution at the Comms National Business Awards. The awards will be hosted on the 13th October at Hilton Park Lane in London.

To read more about our Contact Center solution for Cargiant click here.


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