Working from home, keeping connected: 17 video conferencing and collaboration tools to consider -

Working from home, keeping connected: 17 video conferencing and collaboration tools to consider - from home, keeping connected: 17 video conferencing and collaboration tools to consider - 23 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDTThe coronavirus outbreak is spreading chaos and anxiety around the world, causing businesses and individuals to reassess in a fundamental way how they are going to keep going over the coming weeks and months. One tiny sliver of comfort is that our internet-enabled connectedness has opened up new ways of doing things, allowing parts of the workforce to operate remotely, thus helping to slow the spread of the virus as well as enabling activity to continue in a way that would not have been possible even five years ago.For those employees able to work from home, audio and video conferencing can help reduce the sense of isolation that many are feeling, providing an all-important psychological boost as well as helping them plan a…

Vonex quarterly results fly high on the back of Qantas partnership - Small Caps

Vonex quarterly results fly high on the back of Qantas partnership - Small Caps

Vonex quarterly results fly high on the back of Qantas partnership - Small Caps

Posted: 09 Oct 2019 08:31 PM PDT

Vonex ASX VN8 quarterly results Qantas partnership revenue PBX users
Vonex has added $1.64 million in new customer sales in the September quarter, up 25% on the previous quarter.

Telecommunications company Vonex (ASX: VN8) has posted healthy results for the September quarter, adding $1.64 million in new retail and wholesale business and recording a 25% quarter-on-quarter increase.

More than half of the new sales were driven by the Qantas Business Rewards program, launched in August in partnership with Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN).

Under the terms of the partnership, Vonex is providing a VoIP and hosted phone system to the program, enabling the QBR program's 250,000 small-to-medium business members to earn unlimited monthly QBR points for every purchase made through Vonex's monthly ONdesk cloud‐based phone plans.

Plans include Vonex's Traveller app, and Commercial, Business, or Executive advanced plans which are accompanied by the Yealink T5 series of advanced IP desktop phones with built‐in Bluetooth and WiFi.

Business customers were also eligible to earn up to 5000 bonus points for taking up ONdesk cloud‐based phone plans before year end.

"In addition to stimulating active user and revenue growth, the [Qantas] rewards alliance has improved the quality of [our] book of business, attracting longer-term contracts of typically three years rather than two, and higher minimum spend commitments of typically $30 to $50 per user per month," the company reported.

The company's recently-launched digital marketing strategy had an immediate impact on quarterly figures, delivering a 29% increase in monthly leads generated from social media ad campaigns alongside a 6% reduction in marketing spend.

Managing director Matt Fahey welcomed the positive results.

"We are pleased to see our key success metrics of user growth, new sales and total contract value all continuing to trend positively – it reflects the strength of our proposition to new and existing business customers, and reinforces the value of our alignment with Qantas, which presents significant ongoing growth potential," he said.

"We are now reaping the benefits of having revitalised our marketing campaigns in recent months, and have built a solid platform for sustainable growth in our retail business."

Mr Fahey said the company had recently surpassed 33,000 registered active subscribers – or Private Branch Exchange (PBX) users – to its cloud-based phone system platform and cited the achievement as a key indicator of business development progress as it chases the multibillion dollar Australian market for telco services to small and medium enterprises.

At midday, shares in Vonex were trading 7.14% higher at $0.090, while shares in Qantas Airways were down 0.16% to $6.310.

Back in the D.D.o.S.! How Not to Become a Russian Cyberattack Tool - IoT For All

Posted: 18 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Two robots and the text

Illustration: © IoT For All

I don't know with what weapons World War IV will be fought, but World War III will be fought with printers, video decoders, and VoIP phones.

An IoT DDOS Attack Is Not Science Fiction

Breached IoT devices were used to target computer networks in attacks recently brought to light by Microsoft, which attributed them to Strontium (aka Fancy Bear, aka APT28), a Russian state hacker group linked to the military intelligence agency GRU.

 In April of this year, Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center security researchers discovered that the aforementioned IoT devices on multiple locations were communicating with servers owned by Strontium.

Further analysis showed that the Strontium group compromised the popular IoT devices through default manufacturer passwords and a security vulnerability to which a security patch was not installed. Using the compromised devices, the hackers entered corporate networks, running a network scan to find more compromised devices on the networks and local subnets. Their ultimate objective is unknown to the researchers.

Microsoft researchers mentioned the fact that there are more IoT devices than PCs and mobile phones combined. "These simple attacks taking advantage of weak device management are likely to expand as more IoT devices are deployed in corporate environments," wrote the researchers.

IOT Botnets Will Only Increase in Number

IoT vulnerabilities are easily utilized to carry out DDoS attacks because IoT devices are inherently unsafe; most of them have default credentials, which users don't bother changing, or none at all, and updating their firmware is a messy job, unfit for the ordinary end-user.

DDoS attacks, short for distributed denial of service, are one of the most feared kinds of cyberattacks out there. In a DDoS attack, a server is flooded with endless requests until it slows down, eventually crashing. The requests may be sent from an army of zombies, resulting in IoT devices being breached and infected without their owners' knowledge.

One of the worst IoT-fueled DDoS attacks shut down large swaths of the web for hours in 2016 by attacking DNS provider Dyn, causing a so-called outage of major internet platforms across North America and Europe.

You may be oblivious to your router having taken part in one of those attacks. It still may seem like it was the work of zombies. Recent analysis of thousands of our clients discovered an average of two security problems per ISP router, the router provided by your internet service provider. Common problems include empty WiFi passwords or using the less-than-secure wireless security protocol (WPA) method.

That could get you in trouble if someone decides to take action—legal or retaliatory—against attacking machines.

Microsoft's experts have a slew of suggestions on how corporations can make IoT devices more secure.

Here are the tips adapted for private users:

  • Change the device's credentials as soon as you get them; change them routinely as long as the device is in use.
  • Avoid exposing IoT devices directly to the internet, or create custom access controls to limit exposure.
  • Use a separate network for IoT devices if possible.
  • Set up a routine of updating software and firmware, patching all vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor IoT device activity for abnormal behavior.
  • Routinely audit any identities and credentials that have authorized access to IoT devices. Are there users that aren't supposed to be there?
  • If your devices are deployed or managed by a third-party, like a service company, require a copy of their security practices and ask for a periodic report on the security status and health of the devices.
  • If there's anything suspicious going on, disconnect the device from the network, revoke any privileges, and shut it down until it can be inspected by a professional.

A connected world can be an easier world to manage, but it gives anyone with the means or desire an easy way to wreak havoc.

Written by Igor Rabinovich, CEO and founder of Akita

KCOM Formally Finish FTTP Broadband Rollout - Plan Expansion -

Posted: 09 Oct 2019 04:01 PM PDT

kcom telegraph pole female engineer

After a delay KCOM has today formally announced the completion of their £85m "Lightstream" project, which covers 195,000+ premises around Hull and East Yorkshire in England with their "gigabit-capable" Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network and a little FTTC (VDSL2). But the network could soon grow to cover new areas.

The incumbent operator's original target was to ensure that "every KCOM customer will have access to Lightstream .. by March 2019," which in reality means that nearly all of the premises within their addressable network area can access a "full fibre" connection, although a tiny proportion can only take a slower 75Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) solution. Some 100,000 of their customers have already upgraded (i.e. others linger on ADSL2+ and phone-only lines).

NOTE: KCOM's July 2019 results noted that they had 126,900 broadband customers (residential and business) or 91,400 when only looking at "fibre".

Average download speeds of 94.7Mbps – based on web-based consumer speedtests – are now being recorded for the region (dragged down a bit by WiFi, package choice and ADSL users etc.) and their rollout has completed well ahead of the UK Government's "gigabit-capable" for all target (2025).

Readers of will already be aware that the main rollout technically completed around in April/May 2019 (here), although at the time KCOM couldn't make a big song and dance about this because they had become the subject of a bidding war between two large investment groups – Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and Macquarie Infrastructure (MIRA / MEIF 6 Fibre).

In the end Macquarie Infrastructure's takeover offer of £627m ultimately won that battle (here) and as a result KCOM are now finally free to formally confirm their Ligthstream achievement.

Sean Royce, KCOM Managing Director, said:

"Seven years ago we promised our customers the fastest broadband in the UK and, following the completion of our Lightstream rollout, we are proud to say we've delivered it. Broadband is now an essential utility and access to the fastest speeds on earth is already making a positive difference to homes and businesses in the region, which in turn will help benefit UK plc.

Our investment in full fibre broadband to date has had a major impact on the region, enabling households to stream, surf and play seamlessly online and businesses to compete on a truly global scale, working faster and more efficiently.

It has put this region at the vanguard of the UK's digital economy and set a benchmark for the rest of the UK to aspire to."

Stephen Brady OBE, Leader of Hull City Council, said:

"It is fantastic for the city that full fibre broadband is now available across KCOM's whole network.

All businesses rely on good connectivity, from the smallest to the largest, and this means businesses in Hull can be confident that they can work faster and more efficiently. The city is in the middle of an economic and technological revolution. Full fibre broadband is a vital part of this for both new businesses and existing businesses looking to expand and grow."

The Lightstream effort should also make it fairly easy for KCOM to deliver the forthcoming 10Mbps+ Universal Service Obligation (USO) within their broadband network patch (here). On top of that we suspect they'll be one of the first operators in the United Kingdom to start switching off their old legacy copper line network in the near future in favour of a VoIP platform for voice calls (here).

One caveat with today's announcement is that there may still be a few small patches where KCOM's fibre network has yet to connect, such as some issues with access to apartment blocks / MDUs (e.g. the fibre is present outside but they haven't yet got the permission / admin sorted or identified enough demand to enter the building itself).

KCOM deserve a lot of praise for what they've achieved, although it's also fair to say that they are the incumbent operator for Hull and thus enjoy a unique position of power over the local market. A small number of rivals may be nipping away at their heels (e.g. MS3) but so far the operator has remained dominant.

Interestingly Macquarie Infrastructure's bid for the operator signalled a couple of future proposals that were overlooked by most other news reports. In particular the group said they planned to increase the "amount of business with third party ISPs" (they'll need a more attractive wholesale solution) and would "use additional investment to expand the fibre network beyond the current footprint."

Any expansion of KCOMs fibre optic network seems likely to place them into direct competition with major national operators, such as Openreach (BT), Virgin Media, Cityfibre and Hyperoptic etc. Cracking that sort of aggressively competitive market will be much harder than the one where they currently enjoy a privileged position.

Finally, KCOM states that independent research has estimated that the total gross value added (GVA) to the regional business economy from their rollout is worth over £469m since the project began (i.e. £234m in extra GVA to the Hull and East Yorkshire economy and £204m in salaries of additional staff employed in local businesses whose growth has been attributable to Lightstream).

Small businesses run from home are also said to have benefited from in excess of £1 million in additional revenues, but remember to take such predictions with a pinch of salt as it's extremely difficult to make accurate models for the economic impact of faster broadband speeds.

NOTE: Most of the funding for Lightstream stemmed from KCOM's £90m 2015 sale of their national UK (excluding East Yorkshire) fibre optic and cable duct assets to Cityfibre (here), which went on to make good use of their old fibre (here).


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