Chickasaw Telecom, Inc. Achieves Cisco Customer Experience Specialization

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, August 5, 2020 Chickasaw Telecom, Inc., announced today they have achieved the Cisco Customer Experience Specialization. This Specialization recognizes Cisco Partners that are qualified to support their customers across the full lifecycle of their solutions and impact business outcomes.

Customers are increasingly moving to Software as a Service (SaaS) and recurring offers, requiring them to work with trusted providers to enable their digital transformation. Chickasaw Telecom, Inc. had to demonstrate and document their abilities and customer focused best practices in order to achieve this specialization.

The Cisco Customer Experience Specialization is another example of our commitment to our profession. Guided by our customers’ needs, we continue to adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape and provide our customers and business partners with the latest innovations to propel their businesses forward.” said Jeffrey Downey, GM, Chickasaw Telecom, Inc.

About Chickasaw Telecom, Inc.

Chickasaw is an IT company with more than 100 years of communications-related expertise. From our Oklahoma base, we serve state and local educational institutions and commercial companies, all looking to improve performance through technology. Since our focus is and has always been on Oklahoma, clients benefit in two ways: first, our understanding of the local marketplace allows us to better assess a company’s technology needs; that, combined with our local presence, results in more complete and innovative solutions, designed, implemented and supported with unmatched speed and reliability.

About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in technology that powers the Internet. Cisco inspires new possibilities by reimagining your applications, securing your data, transforming your infrastructure, and empowering your teams for a global and inclusive future. Discover more at newsroom.cisco.com and follow us on Twitter at @Cisco.

Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act Compliance for Your Business

Kari’s Law

Kari’s Law is named for Kari Hunt who was killed by her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas in December of 2013. Ms. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter had tried to dial 911 several times during the attack but was not able to because she did not know she had to first dial “9” to get an outbound line.

Through this tragedy, lawmakers realized there is a problem caused by many of the multi-line telephone systems typically found in hotels, offices, and universities. These systems require users to dial an additional digit to use an outside line — even when they are trying to call 911.

Congress enacted Kari’s Law in 2018. The legislation requires multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to be configured so dialing 911 directly connects to public safety. MLTS phone systems are typically found in enterprises such as office buildings, campuses, and hotels. These requirements went into effect on February 16, 2020.

If your telephone system requires your employees and other users to dial a number to get an outside line, your business must comply with this law.

Fortunately, most of today’s newer telecom systems meet Kari’s Law. However, it’s important to verify your system works as required and that the emergency dispatcher sees the correct information for the location of the phone from which 911 is dialed.

RAY BAUM’S Act

In addition to the direct dialing and notification requirements of Kari’s Law, the FCC has also created rules to improve the dispatchable location information associated with emergency calls from MLTS phone systems. In environments such as hotels, school campuses, warehouses, and multi-level office buildings, it can be difficult to find the exact location of a person calling 911. RAY BAUM’S Act was created to ensure faster and more accurate responses to 911 calls. Under RAY BAUM’S Act, “dispatchable location” data must be conveyed to emergency services for all 911 calls without further action required by the caller, regardless of the technology type.

This act will begin to go into effect on January 6, 2021, and January 6, 2022, depending on the nature of the service.

Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act Compliance

Your business needs to have a complete safety protocol in place for its facilities. Complying with 911 regulations will help you to properly plan for the safety of your onsite and remote employees. Additionally, failure to bring your business to compliance can result in large fines up to $10,000 and additional penalties of up to $500 per day of noncompliance.

To verify your phone system is compliant you’ll need to find the administrative phone number for your location’s 911 call center, likely known as the public safety answering point (PSAP), and ask what steps you need to take to verify that your location is compliant.

You’ll need to be sure that the following information is displayed for the 911 operator should someone need to call for emergency help:

 1. The name of your business

 2. The address from which you are calling

 3. The telephone number from which you are calling

This information needs to be verified for each outbound line in your building(s).

If your system is not able to reach 911 without dialing another number first, or if you’re not sure if your business telephone system complies with Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act, contact us and we can work with you to be sure all the necessary programming changes have been made to your system to bring you into compliance.

Are You Prepared? Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The first half of 2020 has brought a host of challenges for businesses everywhere. From ever-changing cybersecurity risks to the need to now plan for business resiliency in the face of a global pandemic. Not having a plan is no longer an option. You have worked hard to open your business and keep it running and losing it to a disaster would be financially devastating for you — and your employees.

The following guide can help you to determine what you need to include in your plan to make sure your business is sufficiently protected and can quickly recover from current and future threats.

Make a list of all your physical business assets that could be lost in a disaster. This list should include:

  • Building(s)
  • Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Vehicle(s)
  • Product inventory
  • Cash
  • Financial, customer and other operational data
  • Physical documents

Identify Risks. Determine which types of threats can damage or destroy your assets or significantly impact your business operations. Some of the following may not affect your area, but any that could impact your business operations should be considered.

  • Earthquake, tornado, tsunami, or hurricane
  • Pandemics
  • An electrical surge or outage
  • Fire
  • Hacking, viruses, and other cyber attacks
  • Rain and flooding
  • A spill of hazardous substances
  • Terrorism

Determine the steps you will take to protect your assets from disasters. Take each threat and each asset, then analyze how you can prevent or prepare for the various disasters that might affect those assets.

Personnel

Employee safety should be the top priority of your disaster plan. Create a plan for the protection/evacuation of your employees during natural or man-made events that could affect their safety.

  • Assign and train employees, based on their skills, to be prepared to take specific actions in the event of a physical threat.
  • Bring in a professional to train a number of employees to perform CPR and other first-aid measures.
  • Determine escape routes and safe areas employees should use, depending on the type of physical threat.
  • Post a plan of these routes in a prominent place so employees are reminded of them and can know them instinctively.
  • Include instructions for turning off utilities such as gas, water, and HVAC systems.
  • Assign individuals to help ensure that an escape or safety plan is implemented properly.
  • Practice this plan and make sure new employees are trained on it as part of their orientation.
  • Post emergency phone numbers for police, fire, poison control, etc.
  • Add safety equipment — including first aid kits, Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs), fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and shelter-in-place supplies — to your facility.
  • Maintain an emergency personnel file on each employee with important medical data, and names of emergency contacts.
  • Develop a plan on how to continue operations in the face of a widespread outbreak, keeping in mind the potential need to shut down physical locations.

Physical Assets

Meet with your insurance provider to understand what is and is not covered in the case of various types of disasters.

  • Determine the cost involved in expanding coverage to make sure your assets are insured in case of each type of loss.
  • Make copies of important printed documents — such as deeds and other legal documents — and put the originals in a safe deposit box at your bank.
  • Take photos of all physical assets, put them on a CD, DVD, or flash drive, and store it in your safe deposit box. Businesses that have an inventory of their belongings, with pictures, typically receive higher insurance payments from losses and receive them faster.
  • If your business is in an area threatened by severe natural storms, consider making building enhancements so your building(s) can better withstand these threats.

Data

The financial, customer, and operational information on your network is the heart of your operation. Ensuring that it cannot be lost is the best action you can take to quickly get your operation up and running again.

Moving your operations and data to a cloud service provider not only protects that data in case of a disaster, but can also significantly enhance the productivity, collaboration, and functionality of your business.

Cloud services, such as Intermedia, offer business services — including hosted Exchange, Hosted PBX, Securisync®, and AnyMeeting™ — that let you communicate, collaborate, manage content and run your business applications. Today’s highly mobile environment, with employees accessing data from their PCs, smartphones, and tablets, makes that access easy, yet keeps your data safe and secure and away from your physical location so it’s not affected by any natural or man-made disaster.

Getting Help

There are several governmental and charitable agencies ready to help in times of a disaster. The Small Business Administration is prepared to assist, with programs such as their National Response Framework (NRF), National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), and Disaster Loan Making (DLM) process. Their Disaster Oversight Council/Executive Management Team oversees the direction and support of the disaster loan process during disasters and coordinates DLM and continuity of operations (COOP).

By addressing all the above issues in your plan, your business can prevent damages from some possible threats, be better prepared for other disasters, and be in a position to quickly get your operations back up and running when issues do arise.

Chickasaw Telecom, Inc. Named to CRN’s Solution Provider 500 List for the 10th Consecutive Year

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 2, 2020 – Chickasaw Telecom, Inc. today announced that CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, has named the company to its 2020 Solution Provider 500. This annual list ranks the largest North American IT channel partner organizations by revenue. The Solution Provider 500 is the industry standard for recognizing the highest performing technology integrators, strategic service providers, and IT consultants. It is the industry’s predominant channel partner list.

Business Benefits of Video Conferencing

Internet technologies have turned our world into a virtual office in which we can conduct business with employees, partners, suppliers, and, best of all, customers all across the globe. Working in this virtual environment has become easier as well. Sophisticated video conferencing technologies make it possible to conduct face-to-face meetings as easily as it once was to walk down the hall into a meeting room. Without the expense and hassle of travel, video conferencing allows you to make effective sales presentations, give product demonstrations, and conduct interactive collaboration via the Internet. You can share voice, video, text, and chat and conduct conferences as formal or relaxed as the situation requires.

How Can Your Business Benefit from Video Conferencing?

Stay Connected with Remote Employees
One of the biggest benefits of video conferencing is how it enables remote work to not only be possible, but efficient. It is a helpful and cost-effective way to hold meetings – and it changes the way you work.
In the past decade, the number of workers who telecommute has significantly increased. With video conferencing, it doesn’t matter where your meeting participants are located. Remote workers can easily connect with both their co-workers and with work processes.

Hire More Efficiently
Instead of flying a candidate across the country for an interview, video conferencing can save your company a great deal of money when it comes to recruiting, and candidates won’t have to set aside a day or more of travel time just to have an hour-long interview.

Make Your Meetings More Efficient
Video conferencing isn’t just for remote teams. Whether you want to bring in a co-worker who’s traveling or a business partner who cannot make the drive to your office, with today’s technology, holding a meeting via video helps people to feel like they’re in the same room as everyone else.

Video conferencing isn’t just convenient; it can also help your team stay productive, even when there is bad weather. With video conferencing and other mobile strategies like using cloud-based apps, you can storm-proof your business.

There are many video conferencing solutions, including Intermedia’s AnyMeeting and Cisco WebEx. There are many elements you should consider when evaluating solutions:

• Features — Determine what the system allows you to share in terms of visuals and the options for communication between participants, i.e., screen sharing, multiple speakers, etc.
• Ease of Use — Ensure that the system you select is intuitive enough to be used easily by all participants regardless of their experience or their on-site technology.
• Security — Analyze what kinds of barriers might arise by giving attendees access to the conferences. These barriers can include registration, authentication, and getting past network firewalls. Also, you’ll need to be assured that your conferences and the conference content can be kept secure.
• Support — Check the type of help menus available within the application, the training available, and how easy it would be to get live support during the conference if trouble arises.

The right video conferencing system makes it easy for you to expand your market to reach more buyers, tap employees from a larger talent pool, and more easily partner with those who provide special expertise that enhances what you offer. It can benefit your business by saving time, money, and company resources for holding meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more.

Today’s Distributed Workforce

With remote teams of employees becoming much more commonplace, employers are tasked with effectively managing their distributed workforce. Many technologies exist to enable and control resources available to remote employees. Voice-over-Internet-Protocol, or VoIP, provides many features at a fraction of the cost including real-time collaboration, call recording, video conferencing, and more. These features effortlessly deliver the communication options critical for today’s distributed workforce. Below are just a few examples of how VoIP and business Cloud applications support mobility and the distributed workforce.

Telecommuting Made Easier

Using a telephone system that is hosted by the Cloud, your employees need only an Internet connection to securely connect to the system. Many VoIP products offer communication features specifically designed to improve the management of a distributed workforce. Features such as call routing and conferencing allow unparalleled access to employees working in remote locations by allowing them to use their smartphones and laptops as if they were working in an actual office. VoIP also provides a consistent and professional experience for your customers and prospects. Using the Presence Management capability of VoIP, calls can be automatically routed to any number or extension. The call transfers are seamless, making it appear as if the employee they are speaking to is in the office, no matter where they are located.

Increased Productivity

Because VoIP is an Internet-based communication system, your employees can make and receive phone calls from anywhere anytime. They can use audio and video conferencing to organize and attend business meetings, make sales presentations, or conduct training remotely. Even when you or your employees are not in the office, you can:

• Check the availability of others in your business.

• Know when other employees are engaged and should not be disturbed.

• Easily communicate by instant message (IM) with anyone on your team.

• Use a smartphone to access voice messages and collaboration features.

• Get real-time call alerts online.

In addition, VoIP allows you to log a record of all calls. This gives you some insight into how your employees are managing their time as well as the number of contacts made with customers, vendors, and others.

Cost Savings

One of the biggest benefits of VoIP systems is that they are very cost-effective. Whether audio or video, so long as it’s sent through the Internet, it’s virtually free. The costs of calls themselves are also, greatly reduced as there are little to no charges for long-distance or international calls. This is a tremendous benefit if you have a workforce that is spread across the country. And because VoIP systems have flexible and changeable structures, it’s easy to expand or scale back as needed. VoIP also makes it easier to manage your business. You can rely on the system to route calls using the most effective path, increasing your business’s efficiency. It helps you achieve the almost effortless communication necessary to run your business effectively and to ensure that you and your employees can be attentive to the needs of clients and prospects. Additionally, using VoIP to employ a remote workforce, companies can spend less on overhead expenses, possibly even eliminating them altogether.

Collaboration and Teamwork

The video conferencing option of VoIP gives employees a way to connect even when they can’t meet in person. Employees can hold meetings with team members and clients from wherever they are so long as they have an Internet connection. This saves time and travel expenses. Businesses can also manage critical business data using Cloud-based file management and backup solutions, such as SecuriSync by Intermedia. Employees can instantly and securely access content from any device, share folders with colleagues, vendors or customers, and co-edit files in real-time with multiple collaborators. Your business data is automatically backed up and protected from ransomware attacks, hardware failure, or accidental file deletions. The flexibility of VoIP systems means they can be tailored to fit your specific needs. Your Ideacom Network telecom provider can help you find and customize a VoIP telephony system that’s just right for your business.

Star of the Year 2019

Each year our board of directors considers nominations for the Chickasaw “Star of the Year Award” that is given to a person showing outstanding effort, teamwork, and communication skills. This is our highest award at Chickasaw.

This year’s recipient for the Star of the Year is Tyson Joachims. In addition to his exceptional work with Chickasaw Tyson has served in the Oklahoma National Guard for the past 11 years.

Congratulations Tyson and well done!

Protecting Your Smartphone Against Hackers

As the features and conveniences of smartphones have grown, so have the risks of using them. The more you and your employees use your smartphones to check email, make purchases, access bank accounts, download music, etc., the more tempting your phone becomes to hackers.

There are many different types of smartphone hacking methods — from hacking into a live conversation or hacking into someone’s voicemail and the data stored on smartphones. As we increasingly store sensitive data on our mobile devices, the opportunity to hack our smartphones becomes much more tempting to cybercriminals.

How are hackers getting to your smartphone and how can you protect yourself and your business? Most methods used to attack PCs are also being used to hack mobile devices.

Ways Your Smartphone Can Be Hacked

1. Malware. Your phone is vulnerable to the same things that once only threatened your computer, such as malware. Smartphone users often download the malware to their phone thinking that they are downloading a legitimate application such as the latest game or application.

2. Phishing, or SMiShing, uses text messaging to bait you into disclosing sensitive personal information. You may receive a text message posing to be your banking institution requesting that you call a phone number, or that you click on a link to enter information. You might also receive a text message that advises you to download software to your phone.

3. Bluetooth®. Unfortunately, this ingenious technology that makes it possible to use and enjoy the many features of mobile phones is the same technology that makes those phones vulnerable. Bluetooth makes it easier for you to talk on your phone while driving, use wireless headsets, and even sync your phone to your computer. But, while you are using Bluetooth, you’re allowing hackers easier access to your phone and the information it contains. In general, mobile phones comprise about 60% of overall Bluetooth technology usage.

o Bluejacking: If you are using your phone in a public area, hackers can use Bluetooth’s Business Card feature to send unsolicited messages to all discoverable devices within that area. To protect yourself from Bluejacking, be sure to put your phone in the “invisible” or “non-discoverable” mode to protect it from being hacked.

o Bluesnarfing: This is a more dangerous hack that gives criminals access to some of the information on your phone. Criminals use special software to request information from your device, using the Bluetooth OBEX push profile. Even if your phone is in invisible mode, hackers can attack your phone. However, having it in invisible mode requires the hacker to guess the name of your device — making this type of hack less likely.

o Bluebugging: The electronic business card feature in Bluetooth can also be used to open your phone to takeover by a hacker. Fortunately, newer phones are pretty safe from this type of hack, but older phones and outdated firmware can still be vulnerable.

o Back-door Entry: One of the biggest dangers is when a hacker creates a back door into your phone, gets control of it, clones your phone card, then uses your account on another phone. This is the hack that will hit your pocketbook. All the usage on that other phone will be billed to you.

How to protect your phone from hackers:

Setting up your phone to be secure is one of the first things you should do when you get a new phone. If you or your employees have not taken these steps, then they should right away.

Change the PIN on your voice mail

A phone that is still using the default voice mail or pairing PIN is vulnerable to being accessed by hackers. Changing your PIN often and avoiding PINs that may be available on the Web, such as your birthday, anniversary, etc., is your best protection.

Make your Bluetooth more secure. Just like your computer, your mobile phone should have anti-virus and anti-malware security software. There are dozens available and there are many Websites that rank the software for effectiveness. Since you access the Web from your phone, you’ll want protection from any sites you may visit that have infected downloads or other malware

Use caution when connecting to Wi-Fi. People who are using devices with sensitive business information on them should use additional caution when connecting to Wi-Fi. Business travelers, especially, often use Wi-Fi connections at hotels or conference centers. Because most prominent hotels and event venues are committed to maintaining the security of their Wi-Fi users, this is typically an OK practice. However, free public Wi-Fi in areas such as cafes and airports are often far less secure.

Here are some other tips that will increase your phone’s security:

• Disable your Bluetooth when you aren’t using it.

• Keep your phone in non-discoverable mode.

• Avoid pairing your phone unless necessary.

• Use non-regular patterns as PIN keys while pairing a device.

• Make sure your phone is registered with its manufacturer so you can be sure to get updates that continuously improve your phone’s security.

• Always enable encryption when establishing a Bluetooth connection to your PC.

• Use a security app to increase protection on your phone.

Today’s phones hold large amounts of personal and business data that you will want to keep secure. This data is of value to hackers, which is why it’s important to take every measure possible to protect it. By following the above steps, you can better avoid the dark side of mobility and keep your important data secure.

Combating Robo Calls – SHAKEN/STIR

Scammers and robocallers often use caller ID spoofing to display a number other than the actual number they are calling from, typically making it appear as though a neighbor or someone their target knows is calling. By using caller ID spoofing, scammers increase the likelihood that the intended target will answer a robocall. In many cases, these calls are made with malicious intent, such as a scammer impersonating an IRS agent in order to steal sensitive personal information.

Caller ID authentication is a new system targeted at combating illegal caller ID spoofing. Consumers and law enforcement alike will be more readily able to identify the source of illegal robocalls, thus reducing their frequency and their impact. Once implemented, caller ID authentication, or SHAKEN/STIR, will greatly increase the accuracy of caller ID information and provide consumers with helpful information for determining which calls are authenticated.

What is SHAKEN/STIR?

SHAKEN/STIR stands for Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards. This means that a call being routed through interconnected phone networks would have its caller ID “signed” as legitimate by the originating carrier, then validated by other carriers before reaching the consumer.

SHAKEN/STIR will verify that the person calling you is, in fact, legitimate and calling you from the number showing on your caller ID. While call verification will not prevent all robocalls from reaching your phone, it will give you more information so you can make a better-informed decision about whether or not to answer the call. It will also track where the call originated, helping to identify potential scammers.

The FCC has mandated that major phone carriers uphold the SHAKEN/STIR standard to not only verify the calls within their network but also the calls coming in from other networks.

Most providers have communicated to the FCC that they will meet the standard, and many also currently provide tools to their customers to block robocalls. Unfortunately, SHAKEN/STIR also requires modern phone routing, so older landlines will not have this protection.

Protect Yourself.

While the new rules of SHAKEN/STIR are still being finalized, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself from robocalls and potential scams:

  • Add your landline or cell phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. While it is unlikely to prevent scam calls, it may help to reduce the number of legitimate calls you receive from telemarketers, making it easier to screen for robocalls and scammers.
  • Talk to your phone service provider about robocall-blocking services. Many companies offer services that can block calls or alert you that an incoming robocall may be from a potential scammer or spammer.
  • Do not answer robocalls. By answering the phone, you’re alerting the caller that the number they are dialing is a real phone number, putting you at risk of receiving even more calls in the future. If a robocall slips through, do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.” If the caller or a recording asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should not engage the caller and hang up immediately. Scammers often use this to identify potential targets.

If you suspect a call you received was fraudulent, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a robocaller database that is used by phone companies to update their call-blocking lists. Filing a complaint with the FTC it increases the likelihood that repeat offenders will be added to the database. You can file your complaint with the FTC online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Promote Strong Passwords with Single Sign-On

As today’s businesses embrace the cloud, the number of web apps in their IT environment quickly adds up—and quickly overwhelms the ability to ensure security, manage costs and maintain control.

User password behavior is becoming less secure due to the fact that it is nearly impossible for the average user to remember strong passwords for the multiple cloud services most businesses typically run. Because of this, users take shortcuts and use simple passwords, reuse passwords, and even write them down.

You can help to eliminate poor password practices with a single sign-on solution (SSO) such as AppID by Intermedia. Single sign-on services provide users with a single portal for accessing all of their cloud apps while only needing to remember one password.  This eliminates the temptation for users to take password shortcuts that can introduce security holes.

An SSO allows companies to embrace the productivity benefits of cloud apps without getting lax on security. With a good SSO solution, you can:

  1. Manage Passwords. Whether it’s Salesforce, QuickBooks, NetSuite, or even proprietary apps, an SSO solution eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords making it easy for employees to comply with strong password policies. Businesses can also protect their data by encouraging users to keep their personal and work-related passwords separate. This enables businesses to significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized users unlocking a company’s private data via personal login information. It’s a quick fix that can prevent long-term problems.
  2. Add 2-factor authentication. Decrease the likelihood of a security breach by requiring 2-factor authentication on all critical systems, applications, and services – especially those that are exposed to the internet. 2-factor authentication requires a second piece of information during the login process. This could be a password and the answer to some personal question only the official employee would know. Adding another authentication factor makes it much more difficult for intruders to breach a company’s systems. DUO has a great solution for 2-factor authentication.
  3. Increase employee productivity. Once a user logs in to the SSO portal, they have one-click access to all their applications on one convenient page. With an SSO, users do not need to spend their time finding and logging into different apps and can spend more time working. Additionally, because users only need to remember and enter a single set of credentials, an SSO also minimizes the time users spend dealing with password-related frustrations.
  4. Protect your data. Employee turnover along with the flood of devices in the workplace can make it challenging for IT departments to secure employee access to workplace data. Identity and access management tools can prevent potential security risks when an employee leaves or their device is lost or stolen. Businesses can successfully revoke employees’ access to online company resources with just one click.

Because passwords remain a primary path to security, it is essential to implement a strong business password policy as the best defense against intruders accessing your systems. A single sign-on service is a simple, easy-to-deploy solution that keeps passwords safely encrypted. Create strong unique passwords for every web app you use without having to remember any of them.