Wednesday, February 2, 2022

​Difference Between UPS and Inverter


Today electricity has become a necessity. All most all of our day to day works requires electricity. We need electricity for laptops, washing machines, electric cookers, Mobile phones, Coolers, etc. If this electricity gets shut down it will cause great disorder. To smoothly run these devices even after the blackout of electricity and get uninterrupted, electrical power systems are discovered. UPS and Inverter are an example of such discoveries. Although these devices work for the same intention, however, people remain confused with the difference between a UPS and an inverter, and they wonder what makes them different. This article will highlight the differences between these two devices so that you can make better use of them, having known their features. Before looking into their differences lets know more about there working. 

UPS stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply. As the name implies, it is used to stop the interruption caused to devices during the blackout of electricity. This system is mainly used with computers where it provides the computer sufficient amount of power to save the data and safely shut down when sudden power blackout occurs.

UPS consists of a rectifier to convert AC into DC and charge the battery. This battery is connected to the inverter which converts the DC into AC. A controller is provided to control the functioning of the system.

UPS can provide power supply only up to 10 to 15 minutes. So, this is mainly intended for IT systems and electronic devices that can get damaged with sudden power out conditions.

IVR-1200LBKS 12v Power Inverter 740W


Inverters are power electronic devices. The main purpose of these device is to convert DC to AC. In inverters, AC power supply is taken from AC mains and converted into DC by a rectifier.

This converted DC charges a battery. As the industrial and household systems work on AC power, the DC from the battery is converted into AC by the inverter. During the power cut, the inverter receives supply from the battery and provides power supply to the electrical equipment. These systems are used in the household to get the power supply after the blackout of electricity. For working of Inverters, no external power supply is needed.

Key Differences Between UPS and Inverter

1) Use Case & Backup Time

If you don’t have power cuts often, you can use a UPS to safeguard your computer from any major hardware failure. The switch to UPS is almost instant, and this doesn’t shut down your computer. UPS typically offers a backup of around 30 minutes or so.

The switching of UPS from the mains supply to the battery is immediate, whereas the Inverter takes more than UPS. For computers, the switching time of inverter is more than it can handle, and it will usually reboot due to the interrupted supply. Thus, UPS are preferred for PC and Inverter for homes as lightbulbs will not care about the switching delay.

UPS can provide backup for your devices for around 15 minutes, whereas an Inverter can provide backup for hours depending on its capacity. The inverter allows you to power the complete house depending on the capacity. So if your area has a more extended power cut, you can use it at least keep a couple of lights and fan running.

2) Maintenance & Lifespan

UPS are maintenance-free. Inverters need more wiring and need to be filled with distilled water at regular intervals. However, I have noticed that some of the advanced versions of inverters have freed consumers from distilled water maintenance.

The disadvantage of UPS is that since the battery is continuously being charged and discharged even when there’s no power cut. Because of this, the battery will wear out 4-5 times quicker than inverter battery.

3) Price

Compared to Inverters, UPS are cheaper. There are different types of UPS and inverters available, and they are available at competing prices.

The factors to look into when buying them includes backup time, capacity, charging time, power requirement, crating (quantity of charge in a fully charged cell), and warranties.

Mecer 2400VA, 1440W, 24V DC-AC Inverter with LCD Display


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Negotiate your Business Call rates - Will you save money?


How much can you really save switching between VoIP providers?

At C Networks we give all our clients the ability to negotiate the best rate to suite their individual needs. Now we talking about cents per min so how much can you really save per year?

As a example we will take a small business with average of 6 phones making around 1300 calls a month using 2160 min. So lets start calculating when using a Standard Provider charging you R1,45 per min that's a monthly bill of R 3132 p/m and a annual bill of R37 584 p/a.

Now you starting to shop around and found a VoIP provider willing to charge you only 75c per min with the same number of minutes used you will now only pay R 2349p/m and R 28 188 per year so you already saving R 9396 per year. Now its time to start negotiating and you manage to get your call cost down to as much as 45c per min that calculates to R 1057p/m and R12 684.60 per year that's a huge saving of R 24 899 per year.

and at this point is where C Networks will climb in and start assisting you in getting a even better call rate! Yes with C Networks you too can save more than R24 899 per year on your phone bill. Imagine what can be done with the money being saved, perhaps a bonus for yourself for that holiday you always wanted, a new vehicle for the fleet ?

Put us to the test and start saving within as little as 7 days.

Ready to start Saving - Click Here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Dos and Don'ts of Securing Your VoIP Communications

The Dos and Don'ts of Securing Your VoIP Communications

With workplaces moving to a much more distributed model due to the pandemic, voice over IP communications need to be better secured. We discuss how to secure VoIP system with an expert from RingCentral.

Rob Marvin
By Rob Marvin

Voice-over-IP  (VoIP) is one of the most cost-effective network solutions a small business can purchase, but you can quickly take a bite out of those savings if you don't enter into it with your eyes open. Understanding all the aspects of voice as they pertain to running on a data network is key to successfully deploying this technology. One of the most important aspects of VoIP, yet one that's very often given short shrift in deployment projects and planning sessions, is security.

That can be an exceptionally bad mistake these days for several reasons. First, many businesses are moving to a much more distributed networking model due to the pandemic. Users are working from home and for many companies that move may become permanent. That means your clean and consolidated office network is now connected to a potential rat's nest of home networks with unknown routers running unknown (and often default) settings, as well as connecting to a hodgepodge of personal, unmanaged devices. That can affect not only VoIP performance (meaning the clarity of a conversation), but also security across both password protection and traffic integrity.

This leads into the other problem with a distributed VoIP architecture. Most VoIP providers these days have some form of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) software client, or softphone. This isn't just a phone that runs on your PC or mobile device, though that's the most popular usage at many companies. For many providers, like RingCentral's Glip, these tools combine phone capabilities with text-based chat, shared meetings, video conferencing, scheduling, as well as file sharing and data transfer features among others. Managing security for such powerful apps is critical.

Voice-over-IP  (VoIP) is one of the most cost-effective network solutions a small business can purchase, but you can quickly take a bite out of those savings if you don't enter into it with your eyes open. Understanding all the aspects of voice as they pertain to running on a data network is key to successfully deploying this technology. One of the most important aspects of VoIP, yet one that's very often given short shrift in deployment projects and planning sessions, is security.

That can be an exceptionally bad mistake these days for several reasons. First, many businesses are moving to a much more distributed networking model due to the pandemic. Users are working from home and for many companies that move may become permanent. That means your clean and consolidated office network is now connected to a potential rat's nest of home networks with unknown routers running unknown (and often default) settings, as well as connecting to a hodgepodge of personal, unmanaged devices. That can affect not only VoIP performance (meaning the clarity of a conversation), but also security across both password protection and traffic integrity.

This leads into the other problem with a distributed VoIP architecture. Most VoIP providers these days have some form of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) software client, or softphone. This isn't just a phone that runs on your PC or mobile device, though that's the most popular usage at many companies. For many providers, like RingCentral's Glip, these tools combine phone capabilities with text-based chat, shared meetings, video conferencing, scheduling, as well as file sharing and data transfer features among others. Managing security for such powerful apps is critical.

Whether it's ensuring secure user authentication and network configuration or enabling end-to-end encryption in all VoIP communication and data storage, organizations need to be diligent in both overseeing IT management and working closely with their business VoIP provider to ensure that security requirements are being met and enforced.

Michael Machado, Chief Security Officer (CSO) at RingCentral, oversees security for all of RingCentral's cloud and VoIP services. Machado has spent the past 18 years in IT and cloud security, first as a security architect and operations manager at WebEx , and then at Cisco after the company acquired the video conferencing service.

Security considerations in your company's VoIP communications start in the research and buying stage before you even select a VoIP provider, and persist through implementation and management. Machado walked through the entire process from a security perspective, stopping to explain plenty of do's and don'ts for businesses of all sizes along the way.

Selecting Your VoIP Provider

DON'T: Neglect the Shared Security Model

Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, the first thing you need to understand—independent even of VoIP and Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS)—is that all cloud services in general need to have a shared security model. Machado said that, as the customer, your business always shares some responsibility in the secure implementation of all the cloud services you're adopting.

"It's key for customers to understand, especially when a company is smaller and has fewer resources," said Machado. "People think VoIP is a mechanical device connected to a copper line. It's not. A VoIP phone, whether it's a physical handset, a computer with software running or it, a mobile app, or a softphone application, it's not the same thing as a mechanical phone plugged into the PSTN [public switch telephone network]. It's not like a regular phone—you're going to have some responsibility for making sure the security has a closed loop between the customer and vendor."

DO: Vendor Due Diligence
Once you understand that shared responsibility and want to adopt a cloud VoIP service, it makes sense to do your due diligence when selecting your vendor. Depending on your size and the expertise you have on staff, Machado explained how enterprises and small to midsize businesses (SMBs) can go about this in different ways.

"If you're a large company that can afford to spend the time on due diligence, you can come up with a list of questions to ask every vendor, review their audit report, and have a few meetings to discuss security," said Machado. "If you're a small business, you might not have the expertise to analyze a [Service Organization Control] SOC 2 audit report or the time to invest in a heavy lift discussion.

"Instead, you can look at things like Gartner's Magic Quadrant report, and look to see if they have a SOC 1 or SOC 2 report available, even if you don't have the time or expertise to read through and understand it," Machado explained. "The audit report is a good indication of companies making a strong investment in security versus companies that are not. You can also look for a SOC 3 report in addition to SOC 2. It's a lightweight, certification-like version of the same standards. These are the things you can look for as a small business to start moving in the right direction on security."

DO: Negotiate Security Terms in Your Contract

Now you're at the point where you've selected a VoIP vendor and you're considering the possibility of making a buying decision. Machado recommended that, whenever possible, businesses should try to get explicit security agreements and terms in writing when negotiating a contract with a cloud vendor.

"Small company, big company, it doesn't matter. The smaller the company, the less power you'll have to negotiate those specific terms but it's a 'don't ask, don't get' scenario," said Machado. "See what you can get in your vendor agreements with regards to security obligations from the vendor."

Implementing VoIP Security

DO: Use Encrypted VoIP Services
When it comes to deployment, Machado said there's no excuse for a modern VoIP service to not offer end-to-end encryption. Machado recommended that organizations look for services that support Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption, and that do it, ideally, without upselling for core security measures.

"Don't always go for the cheapest service; it can be worthwhile to pay a premium for a more secure VoIP. Even better is when you don't have to pay a premium for security in your cloud services," said Machado. "As a customer, you should just be able to enable encrypted VoIP and off you go. It's also important that the provider is using not just encrypted signaling, but also encrypting media at rest. People want their conversations to be private, not traversing the internet with plain text voice. Make sure your vendor will support that level of encryption and that it's not going to cost you more."

DON'T: Mix Your LANs

On the network side of your deployment, most organizations have a mix of handsets and cloud-based interfaces. Many employees may just be using a VoIP mobile app or softphone, but there will often be a mix of desk phones and conference phones connected to the VoIP network as well. Machado said it's crucial not to mix form factors and connected devices within the same network design.

"You want to set up a separate voice LAN. You don't want your hard-voice phones co-mingling on the same network with your workstations and printers. That's not good network design," said Machado. "If you go that route, there are problematic security implications down the line. There's no reason for your workspaces to be talking to one another. My laptop doesn't need to talk to yours; it's not the same as a server farm with applications talking to databases."

Instead, Machado recommends…

DO: Set Up Private VLANs

A private VLAN (virtual LAN), as Machado explained, lets IT managers better control their networks because it effectively segments a specific kind of traffic (in this case VoIP) onto its own network. While there are other ways to keep your VoIP traffic protected with regards to congestion from other app traffic running over your network (we're talking about Quality of Service (QoS) here), separating VoIP traffic is the goal and nothing keeps traffic separate like putting it on its own network. The private VLAN acts as a single access and uplink point to connect the device to a router, server, or network.

"From an endpoint security architecture perspective, private VLANs are a good network design because they give you the ability to turn on this feature on the switch that says 'this workstation can't talk to the other workstation.' If you have your VoIP phones or voice-enabled devices on the same network as everything else, that doesn't work," said Machado. "It's important to set up your dedicated voice LAN as part of a more privileged security design."

DON'T: Leave Your VoIP Outside the Firewall

Your VoIP phone is a computing device plugged into Ethernet or your Wi-Fi network. As a connected endpoint, Machado said it's important for customers to remember that, just like any other computing device, it also needs to be behind the corporate firewall.

"The VoIP phone has a user interface [UI] for users to log in and for admins to do system administration on the phone. Not every VoIP phone has firmware to protect against brute-force attacks," said Machado. "Your email account will lock after a few attempts, but not every VoIP phone works the same way. If you don't put a firewall in front of it, it's like opening that web application to anyone on the internet who wants to script a brute force attack and log in."

For companies faced with deploying such devices in workers' homes, this process is necessarily more complicated. First, consider mandating a softphone instead of going to the trouble of shipping out a slew of handsets. With a cheap pair of headphones equipped with microphones, softphones are every bit as effective and easy to use as a regular phone. They're also on a PC or mobile device that's probably connected wirelessly to the home network, which means it'll automatically be behind the home router's firewall.

However, IT should make it a point to ensure that every home wireless router not only implements a firewall, but does so in a VoIP friendly way. That means some testing for IT staffers across different router devices, but once that's done they should be able to help home users implement the proper settings fairly quickly over the phone.

VoIP Service Management

DO: Change Your Default Passwords

Regardless of the manufacturer from which you receive your VoIP handsets, the devices will ship with default credentials like any other piece of hardware that comes with a web UI. To avoid the kind of simple vulnerabilities that led to the Mirai botnet DDoS attack, Machado said the easiest thing to do is simply to change those defaults.

"Customers need to take proactive steps to secure their phones," said Machado. "Change the default passwords immediately or, if your vendor manages the phone endpoints for you, make sure they're changing those default passwords on your behalf."

DO: Keep Track of Your Usage

Whether it's a cloud phone system, on-premises voice system, or a private branch exchange (PBX), Machado said that all VoIP services have an attack surface and eventually may get hacked. When that happens, he said one of the most typical attacks is an account takeover (ATO), also known as telecom fraud or traffic pumping. This means that, when a VoIP system is hacked, the attacker tries to place calls that cost that owner money. The best defense is to keep track of your usage.

"Say you're a threat actor. You've got access to voice services and you're trying to make calls out. If your organization is watching its usage, you'll be able to spot if there's an unusually high bill or see something like a user on the phone for 45 minutes with a location that no employees have any reason to call. It's all about paying attention," said Machado.

"If you're 'cloud-ifying' this (meaning, not using a traditional PBX or on-premises-only VoIP), then have a conversation with your service provider asking what you're doing to protect me," he added. "Are there knobs and dials I can turn on and off with regards to service? Are you doing back-end fraud monitoring or user behavior analytics looking for anomalous usage on my behalf? These are important questions to ask."

DON'T: Have Over-Broad Security Permissions

On the subject of usage, one way to cap potential ATO damage is to turn off permissions and features you know your business doesn't need, just in case. Machado gave international calling as an example.

"If your business doesn't need to call all parts of the world, then don't turn on calling to all parts of the world," he said. "If you only do business in the US, Canada, and Mexico, do you want every other country available for calling or does it just make sense to shut it off in the case of ATO? Don't leave any over-broad permissions for your users for any technology service, and anything that's not necessary for your business use qualifies as over-broad."

DON'T: Forget About Patching

Patching and keeping current with updates is critical with any kind of software. Whether you're using a softphone, VoIP mobile app, or any kind of hardware with firmware updates, Machado said this one's a no-brainer.

"Are you managing your own VoIP phones? If the vendor releases firmware, test and deploy it quickly—these often deal with patches of all types. Sometimes, security patches come from a vendor managing the phone on your behalf so, in that case, be sure to ask who controls patching and what the cycle is," said Machado.

Patching is also critical for the slew of home routers to which your network will likely be connecting in a distributed deployment. The best-case scenario is to control the brand and model of these routers so IT can automate the patching process and verify that each device is in compliance. If that can't happen, however, the next step is constant user communication and scheduled phone help to aid home users in updating their routers themselves.

DO: Enable Strong Authentication

Strong two-factor authentication and investing in heavier identity management is another smart security practice. Beyond just VoIP, Machado said authentication is always an important factor to have in place.

"Always turn on strong authentication. That's not any different if you're logging into your cloud PBX or your email or your CRM. Look for those features and use them," said Machado. "We're not just talking about phones on your desk; we're talking about web applications and all the different parts of the service. Understand how the pieces come together and secure each piece in turn."

Sunday, October 10, 2021

3 Ways Hybrid Workspaces Create a Better Experience for All

As companies start planning to return to work, a significant number of employees want a model where they have the flexibility of working from anywhere. Forward-looking leadership teams are leaning into hybrid workplace models that create better work/life balance, increased productivity and better collaboration, says Nick Iovacchini, CEO & co-founder, KettleSpace.

As vaccinations are scaling around the world, our country is seeing yet another shift in how we work. Early in the pandemic, many of us have struggled to adapt to remote ways of working (mostly from home). Although remote work has its benefits, many of us have started to experience WFH fatigue, many people are stressed, overworked and generally burnt out.

As we move toward reopening, 55% of workers want a different model for how and where they work, and 40% say they would consider quitting their jobs if they weren’t offered some form of remote work flexibility. While this doesn’t represent an insignificant amount of change and effort, forward-looking leadership teams are leaning into this and are willing to adapt to find a new equilibrium. With the right approach, tooling, and data, leadership and employees can work together to achieve a new paradigm that balances employee desires, leadership needs, productivity, and resource allocation.

What do workers want today, actually? A balance —  a measure of control over where and how they work. This means that the future is a fluid model offering a combination of remote and in-office work. These approaches can take a number of various shapes, but collectively we call them “hybrid models.” And hybrid models will fundamentally change the way companies operate, how employees experience work, and how business leaders optimize the fixed office footprint. Many employers are even using the promise of the hybrid model as a talent acquisition advantage.

The companies that can figure out the right balance, implementation (using a combination of tech and data) and management of a proper hybrid model will have the edge in talent sourcing and retention over time.

Here are three ways a smart hybrid design creates a better employee experience:

1. Better Work/Life Balance

Work-life balance goes hand-in-hand with an employee’s mental health. Many of us are pretty plugged in, checking email and slack well beyond normal working hours. However, not having to work in the office every day frees employees from being physically tethered to their job at all times. In turn, it enables business leaders to readjust their expectations of employees, especially those that have hit a psychological wall. This rebalancing creates a more sustainable way ahead for both employees and employers. An effective hybrid model shows employers that productivity doesn’t slip; in fact, offering workers autonomy over their time can even boost productivity as well as morale.

Returning to the office also means restoring a sense of normalcy and routine, reminding employees what things were like before the pandemic. At the same time, offering multiple work options can alleviate common stressors like the daily commute, missing family milestones, or lacking personal time. People enjoy having the latitude in choosing their work environment, and switching it up can lead to greater creativity and better quality work.

Perhaps most importantly, hybrid models can prevent people from feeling isolated. One of the biggest losses workers suffered due to the pandemic was not being able to see and emotionally connect with their coworkers on a daily basis. Even while they were able to stay connected through technology, for many, it was not an adequate replacement for face-to-face interactions. Americans report the highest levels of happiness when they spend six to seven hours a day socializing; being able to see and work with teammates is beneficial for mental health. Working from home full-time might even be more productive for some, but the lack of vital interaction is a heavy downside.

2. Increased Productivity

At the beginning stages of the pandemic, where work started to go fully remote, there was fear that workers would be less productive with less oversight. In reality, that just has not been the case, as working remotely has, in fact, increased productivity for many organizations. A PwC study shows that employees feel more productive now than they did last year (34% vs. 28%), and more executives agree that productivity has improved (52% vs. 44%).

The key to hybrid work being productive is trust between employers and employees. Those that micromanage or monitor remote workers may actually undermine one of the biggest upsides of enabling remote work. That lack of confidence impacts employee morale, which leads to lower productivity and engagement. But when employees are trusted to work from home with little oversight, their productivity will increase. This same logic holds when it comes to increases in employee engagement, according to Gallup. Teams with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than companies with less engaged employees.

The hybrid model supports productivity when workers actually do return to the office as well. A physical office is often cited as a better work environment to accomplish certain tasks. That will be the case when people return in-person to work for an employer that has established trust in a flexible model. The confidence that work can be performed well from any location fosters a sense of autonomy and purpose that places less pressure on constant oversight by management. Again, it all comes back to balance.

3. Better Collaboration

One of the biggest changes brought by the move to “home offices” was the impact on collaboration. Physically working together builds trust among colleagues, and occupying the same space fosters a sense of social connection and collaboration. All of these factors are instrumental in building a thriving culture.

During the lockdown period, many colleagues were no longer able to meet face-to-face, which changed or limited how they worked together, especially on tasks requiring multiple participants. However, at the same time, there was more connectivity with coworkers in offices far away, which was a plus for many teams.

When orchestrated with the right system, frameworks, and data, a smart hybrid model can bring out the best in workers, who are more likely to report a positive impact on creativity, relationships, and problem-solving. That’s because it allows a mix of in-person collaboration and autonomous work at home. Additionally, cross-collaboration in a hybrid structure enhances efficiency without any negative impact on the quality of work, as well as an increase in innovation by bringing different perspectives to the table.

Work has irreversibly shifted due to the pandemic. McKinsey reports that 90% of all companies anticipate being some form of hybrid going forward. However, nearly 70% still don’t have a plan or the necessary infrastructure to implement a successful hybrid model. There’s no doubt organizations will have different strategies on how to implement a hybrid; this isn’t going to be a “one size fits all” situation. Instead, the pandemic has shown us both the positives and negatives of remote and in-office work. It will be up to innovative companies to pave the path forward in figuring out how to combine the pros and the cons in the best way possible. Those that do will have a leg up on the competition when it comes to the all-important task of attracting and retaining top talent while at the same time creating productivity, engagement, and ROI advantages.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Introducing Windows 11

Get a fresh perspective

Windows 11 provides a calm and creative space where you can pursue your passions through a fresh experience. From a rejuvenated Start menu to new ways to connect to your favourite people, news, games, and content—Windows 11 is the place to think, express, and create in a natural way.

Maximise your productivity

Access all the apps you need and multi-task with ease with tools like Snap layouts, Desktops, and a new more-intuitive redocking experience.

New ways to connect

Connect instantly to the people you care about right from your desktop with Microsoft Teams. Call or chat for free—no matter what device they’re on.1

Your content, curated by you

With Microsoft Edge and a multitude of Widgets you can choose from, you can quickly stay up to date with the news, information, and entertainment that matters most to you.2 Easily find the apps you need and the programmes you love to watch in the new Microsoft Store.

Playtime. Anytime.

Windows 11 takes gaming to a whole new level with graphic capabilities that rival reality.4 Discover your next favourite game with Xbox Game Pass, giving you access to over 100 high-quality games (membership sold separately).3

A PC for each of us

The new Windows is available on the widest array of devices, from our partners who are bringing you the latest innovations in touch, pen, and voice, making it easy to find the best, most affordable device for you.4

Find the right PC for you

Need a new PC now? There are some Windows 10 PCs that can upgrade for free when Windows 11 rolls out.4 5

It’s so much easier to transfer to a new PC when you back up your files and photos from your old PC to OneDrive.7

Get ready

Windows 11 isn’t here yet, but will be coming later this year. If you’re excited, there are some things you can do in the meantime to get ready.

Check for compatibility
Use the PC Health Check app8 to see if your PC can run Windows 11.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Meet a new generation of Acer Chromebook laptops that are built for business

While Chromebooks only entered the global market in 2011, their Chrome operating system has quickly risen to become the second most popular operating system today.

The Chrome OS market share grew from 6.4% in 2019 to 10.8% in 2020, and today many businesses are beginning to choose Chromebooks for their enterprise-class speed, simplicity, and security.

And, compared to most other laptops on the market, they’re also a lot more affordable.

So, what is it exactly about these features that makes Chromebooks so good for business?

Unprecedented speed

Business operations are often slowed down by traditional operating systems that suffer from long start-up times, disruptive updates, and the inevitable slow-down that comes from prolonged use.

Chrome OS, on the other hand, is one of the lightest operating systems out there and has a fast boot time of 5-10 seconds.

Chromebooks exhibit virtually no lag or stuttering when being used, and because of their cloud-oriented nature, your employees will always have instant access to all their data, applications, settings, and web extensions whenever they log into any Chromebook device.

Intuitive and simple

Anyone familiar with Google’s suite of applications will be familiar with Chrome OS.

The interface is fast and intuitive, and making the switch to the Chrome operating system is as simple as signing into your Google account and uploading your files to Google Drive.

Provisioning and deploying a network of Chromebook devices for employees is also made simpler than ever for enterprises, which has become especially important with today’s increasingly remote workforce.

study showed that IT departments have benefitted from time savings with the help of Chromebook’s Zero-Touch Enrolment, which allows authorised pre-provisioning partners like Acer to send instructions to Google and enrol a Chrome device automatically once it is turned on and connected to the internet.

Similarly, managing a fleet of Chrome devices is easy and simple, as Chromebook Enterprise provides IT teams with access to oversight capabilities and device policies from the easy-to-use, cloud-based Google Admin console or other third-party Unified End Management solutions.

Enterprise-class security

The rapid pace of digitalisation as well as the remote migration of workforces has given cybercriminals a much larger attack surface, and businesses that lack sufficient security measures are becoming prime targets.

Chromebooks were built with this in mind, using the principle of ‘defence in depth’, and Chrome OS is one of the most secure operating systems on the market.

Chromebooks come standard with multiple layers of built-in protection, which means that businesses do not need to allocate additional spending to antivirus software.

Google rolls out automatic updates with the latest security patches in a way that is completely non-disruptive.

Chromebooks are unique because of a security feature called ‘sandboxing’, which runs every program, website, or web application as a separate process in a restricted environment.

If an employee accidentally opens a harmful website, for example, any threat will be contained and would not be able to access any other part of the computer.

When a Chromebook boots up, it also completes a ‘verified boot’ to ensure that the computer has not been corrupted or tampered with, and if it has, it will restore itself automatically to a known and trusted backup.

If a backup isn’t available, employees can simply download one from the cloud and their device will be up and running again – with all their documents readily available on the cloud.

If an employee misplaces their Chromebook, IT can easily disable the device remotely, preventing potential bad actors from accessing sensitive corporate data.

Chromebooks can be set as ‘ephemeral’ so that any user’s data is removed at the end of their session.

All the support businesses need

With the support of Google certified partners like Acer, businesses can have access to support via phone, email, or directly from Google when they need it.

IT managers have the ability to manage all devices remotely, allowing employees to continue working securely and effectively from anywhere.

Along with Google’s extensive ecosystem of cloud and web-based applications, Chromebooks give employees everything they need to be more productive and protected in today’s digital work environment.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Tips to Secure Your Small Business Network

Just because your business is small, doesn't mean that hackers won't target you. The reality is that automated scanning techniques and botnets don't care whether your company is big or small, they're only looking for holes in your network security to exploit.

Maintaining a secure small business or home network isn't easy, and even for an old hand in IT, it still takes time and energy to keep things locked down. Here are 10 of the most critical steps you can take to keep your data from ending up elsewhere, and none of them take much time or effort to accomplish.

Get a Firewall

The first step for any attacker is to find network vulnerabilities by scanning for open ports. Ports are the mechanisms by which your small business network opens up and connects to the wider world of the Internet. A hacker sees an open port to as an irresistible invitation for access and exploitation. A network firewall locks down ports that don't need to be open.

A properly configured firewall acts as the first line of defense on any network. The network firewall sets the rules for which ports should be open and which ones should be closed. The only ports that should be open are ports for services that you need to run.

Typically, most small business routers include some kind of firewall functionality, so chances are if you have a router sitting behind your service provider or DSL/cable modem, you likely have a firewall already. To check to see if you already have firewall capabilities at the router level in your network, log into your router and see if there are any settings for Firewall or Security. If you don't know how to log into your router on a Windows PC, find your Network Connection information. The item identified as Default Gateway is likely the IP address for your router.

There are many desktop firewall applications available today as well, but don't mistake those for a substitute for firewall that sits at the primary entry point to your small business network. You should have a firewall sitting right behind where your network connectivity comes into your business to filter out bad traffic before it can reach any desktop or any other network assets.

Password Protect your Firewall

Great you've got a firewall, but it's never enough to simply drop it into your network and turn it on. One of the most common mistakes in configuring network equipment is keeping the default password.

It's a trivial matter in many cases for an attacker to identify the brand and model number of a device on a network. It's equally trivial to simply use Google to obtain the user manual to find the default username and password.

Take the time to make this easy fix. Log into your router/firewall, and you'll get the option to set a password; typically, you'll find it under the Administration menu item.

Update Router Firmware

Outdated router or firewall firmware is another common issue. Small business network equipment, just like applications and operating systems, needs to be updated for security and bug fixes. The firmware that your small business router and/or firewall shipped with is likely out-of-date within a year, so it's critical to make sure you update it.

Some router vendors have a simple dialogue box that lets you check for new firmware versions from within the router's administration menu. For routers that don't have automated firmware version checking, find the version number in your router admin screen, and then go to the vendor's support site to see if you have the latest version.

Block Pings

Most router and firewalls include multiple settings that help to determine how visible your router and/or firewall will be to the outside world. One of the simplest methods that a hacker uses to find a network is by sending a ping request, which is just a network request to see if something will respond. The idea being if a network device responds, there is something there that the hacker can then explore further and potentially exploit. You can make it harder for attackers by simply setting your network router or firewall so that it won't respond to network pings. Typically, the option to block network pings can be found on the administration menu for a firewall and/or router as a configuration option.

Scan Yourself

One of the best ways to see if you have open ports or visible network vulnerabilities is to do the same thing that an attacker would do - scan your network. By scanning your network with the same tools that security researchers (and attackers) use, you'll see what they see. Among the most popular network scanning tools is the open source nmap tool). For Windows users, the Nmap download now includes a graphical user interface, so it's now easier than ever to scan your network with industry standard tools, for free. Scan your network to see what ports are open (that shouldn't be), and then go back to your firewall to make the necessary changes.

Lock Down IP Addresses

By default, most small business routers use something called DHCP, which automatically allocates IP addresses to computers that connect to the network. DHCP makes it easy for you to let users connect to you network, but if your network is exploited it also makes it easy for attackers to connect to your network. If your small business only has a set number of users, and you don't routinely have guest users plugging into your network, you might want to consider locking down IP addresses.

The benefit of assigning an IP is that when you check your router logs, you'll know which IP is associated with a specific PC and/or user. With DHCP, the same PC could potentially have different IPs over a period of time as machines are turned on or off. By knowing what's on your network, you'll know where problems are coming from when they do arise.


Not everyone in your small business necessarily needs access to the same network assets. While you can determine and set access with passwords and permissions on applications, you can also segment your network with VLAN or virtual LANs. VLANs are almost always part of any business class router and let you segment a network based on needs and risks as well as quality of service requirements. For example, with a VLAN setup you could have the finance department on one VLAN, while sales is on another. In another scenario, you could have a VLAN for your employees and then setup another one for contract or guest workers. Mitigating risk is all about providing access to network resources to the people who are authorized and restricting access to those who aren't.

Get an IPS

A firewall isn't always enough to protect a small business network. Today's reality is that the bulk of all network traffic goes over Port 80 for HTTP or Web traffic. So if you leave that port open, you're still at risk from attacks that target port 80. In addition to the firewall, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) technology can play a key network security role. An IPS does more than simply monitor ports; it monitors the traffic flow for anomalies that could indicate malicious activity. IPS technology can sometimes be bundled in on a router as part of a Unified Threat Management (UTM) device. Depending on the size of your small business network, you might want to consider a separate physical box.

Another option is to leverage open source technologies running on your own servers (or as virtual instances if you are virtualized). On the IPS side, one of the leading open source technologies is called SNORT (which is backed by commercial vendor Sourcefire.

Get a WAF

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is specifically tasked with helping to protect against attacks that are specifically targeted against applications. If you're not hosting applications within your small business network, the risks that a WAF helps to mitigate are not as pronounced. If you are hosting applications, WAF in front of (or as part of) your Web server is a key technology that you need to look at. Multiple vendors including Barracuda have network WAF boxes. Another option is the open source ModSecurity project, which is backed by security vendor Trustwave.


If you've gone through all the trouble of protecting your small business network, it makes sense to extend that protection to your mobile and remotely connected employees as well. A VPN or Virtual Private Network lets your remote workers log into your network with an encrypted tunnel. That tunnel can then be used to effectively shield your remote employees with the same firewall, IPS and WAF technologies that local users benefit from. A VPN also protects your network by not letting users who may be coming in from risky mobile environments connect in an insecure fashion.

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