Key Benefits and Features of Cloud-Based Hosted Data Services

One of the biggest challenges business owners face is minimizing overhead. Cloud computing is quickly becoming the standard way for businesses to access IT infrastructure, software and hardware resources. These cloud-based data services can dramatically reduce your costs.

Before the cloud, businesses had to spend time and money on purchasing or leasing equipment. They would then have to dedicate valuable storage space for the installation of hardware. A technical team would have to handle maintenance and upgrades, and when new innovations appeared, additional time and money would then be spent on software purchases and upgrades. Additionally, if there was a natural or man-made disaster, all data could be lost.

A cloud-based hosted data service can help improve your business in many ways.

Cost Savings

Avoid the capital investment of equipment purchases and eliminate the need to install and dedicate space for equipment within your facility. Rather than purchasing and installing software or the hardware to support it, businesses can purchase a subscription for cloud-based data services at a reasonable monthly cost. Transitioning to a recurring operating expense also allows businesses to employ better and more predictable budgeting.

Eliminate redundancy and streamline costs by housing critical data in one location, enabling the data to be accessed and/or updated by multiple users while ensuring a single point for updates, avoiding expenses related to software and equipment updates.

Flexibility

With cloud-based hosted data services, your business can quickly adapt to market changes and take advantage of opportunities as they appear. The limitations of housing your own data disappear.

Time Savings

You want to run your business. This means building a successful business plan and strategy, seeing opportunities, and leveraging them as part of your success. Managing equipment and giving your business access to the latest technology can be costly and time-consuming. Using a cloud-based hosted data service frees up time for you and your employees and enables you to focus on how best to grow your business and serve your customers.

Capabilities

Having access to the latest critical features to help support your business operations is an important consideration. Hosted data services give you access to more features and services, enabling your operations to become more productive and competitive.

Growth and Scalability

Cloud-based hosted data services offer vertical scalability, which gives businesses the option to access more, or fewer, services or features on-demand. On-site equipment can limit your growth and require substantial investments in order to increase your data storage, but a cloud-based hosted data service makes it easy to grow your business and the data needed to support it.

Security and Compliance

Data stored in the cloud is carefully encrypted and backed up so, in case of a power outage, fire, flood or any other man-made or natural disaster, your business can recover quickly without the loss of any of the data critical to your business operations. Cloud-based data services can also help you maintain compliance with any industry regulations you must follow as well as protect you from security threats such as ransomware.

Chickasaw Telecom can help you assess your needs and find a cloud-based hosted data service that will bring your business these bottom-line benefits.

Handling the Threat of Ransomware

“Ransomware” is the term used when cybercriminals make the data on your network inaccessible to you until you pay a large ransom. The tools used for ransomware are no

different from those used for traditional hacking, but instead of stealing your data, criminals want to steal your money.

Due to the increased processing powers of computers and the rise of anonymous payment systems, ransomware attacks have become a lot more frequent, making ransomware one of the most substantial digital threats businesses face.

Once your business is infected, you face two tough choices – either spend the time to recover your locked files, resulting in days of downtime and lost business opportunities, or you pay the ransom and hope the attackers do not disappear before they unlock your files. Either option will still require that you wipe and restore all computers to remove the ransomware.

The best target for ransomware is a business that has vulnerabilities in its network. Just like traditional thieves, they go after the location that is the easiest to break into. The more secure you can make your network the less likely it is that your business will be attacked. Data security experts typically advise that you follow these four critical steps to reduce the risks of ransomware and avoid the need to pay a ransom:

Employee Training. Ransomware often starts with an employee opening a single file that unleashes a virus that shuts down the entire system. But the ransomware can be activated in a number of ways. These include infected downloads, phishing scams, or opening an email attachment containing malware. It is crucial to train your employees never to download or open any email attachments unless they directly apply to their daily business responsibilities. It’s also important to stress to employees never to visit Websites other than those relating to business research or business activities.

Sometimes individuals are hacked, then the hackers use the addresses gleaned from that person’s contact list to send out infected attachments or links. Employees should be trained to look out for strange emails that appear to be from people they know that may have been hacked. Any emails looking remotely suspicious should be immediately deleted even if they are from people known to the employee.

Strong Security Systems: Over the years, companies that provide security solutions for ransomware have developed even better ways to protect businesses from this costly and time-consuming threat. You should research what is now available for ransomware to see if you can close any gaps you may have in your network.

Effective ransomware security always includes:

A strong firewall

Anti-malware tools that update automatically

Keeping your system current with patches and other updates

Security software that stops users from clicking on infected Websites

System Backups. Backing up your system is always the best way to protect your business. If your network becomes infected with ransomware, it needs to be wiped clean and restored from your backup. This lets you avoid having to pay a ransom in order to get your data back.

If you are conducting backups on-premise, you should make sure you can recover an image of the data for months in the past and keep multiple copies. Any backups made between the time of infection and when the attack is detected will be encrypted, and thus unrecoverable.

During the wipe-and-restoration process, however, the data is still inaccessible. So this could interrupt or virtually shut down your business while the data is being restored. This is why it’s more cost-effective to avoid being hit by ransomware than to have to recover from it.

Automatic Incremental Online Backups. Your businesses should keep at least one set of backups offsite. There are many companies offering offsite backups at very affordable rates, so this is easy to do. Offsite backups give you another restoration option that adds a valuable layer of protection to your business. Most online backup services let you set how many prior days or months of backups you want to be stored so you can easily restore from a network version that has not been encrypted by ransomware.

We can help you evaluate your firewall and other network security systems to help you make sure you significantly reduce the threat that your business will be hit by ransomware.

New Area Code coming to the 405

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (September 24, 2020) – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) today reminds residential and business customers served by the 405-area code to prepare for the introduction of the new 572 area code. The 572-area code will be added as an overlay to the 405 regions to ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers for the area. An overlay is the addition of another area code (572) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (405).

The OCC ordered an area code overlay for the 405 Area Code on January 8, 2020. An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code.

A six-month permissive dialing period will begin on October 24, 2020 to give consumers adequate time to adjust to the changes. During this period, local calls can be made with either 7 or 10 digits and all calls that are local will continue to be local even though you dial 10 digits.

Beginning April 24, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur where all local calls made within the Oklahoma 405 area code will have to be placed using the 10 digit telephone number (area code + the 7-digit telephone number).

Beginning May 24, 2021, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using
the new 572 area code.

The most important facts for consumers to know about the upcoming 405/572 area code overlay are:

  • Your current telephone number, including current area code, will not change
  • If you seek new phone service after May 24, 2021, you may be assigned a phone number with the 572-area code.
  • You will need to dial area code + telephone number for all local calls.
  • You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 911. You can also dial three digits to reach 211 and 811, as well as 311 and 511, where available.

Please remember to identify your telephone number as a 10-digit number (area code + 7-digit telephone number), and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates and customers, etc.

Customers should ensure all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software, or other types of equipment recognize the new 572 area code as a valid area code. Examples include life-safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, ankle monitors, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Be sure to check your business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included in your telephone number.

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default but some older equipment may still use 7 digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment should be done between October 24, 2020 and April 24, 2021.

Remember that all local calls must be programmed using 10-digits and you need to add ‘1’ for all long-distance calls.

For additional information, please visit the OCC website at http://occeweb.com/ or contact your local telephone service provider.

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!