Cybersecurity – Still a Major Concern for Business

Even after countless articles and discussions warning about the importance of cybersecurity, statistics indicate that high levels of vulnerability still exist:

  • 85% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error.
  • 94% of all malware is delivered by email.
  • More than 80% of cybersecurity events involve phishing attacks.
  • Ransomware attacks occur every 10 seconds.
  • Nearly half of all cyberattacks target small businesses.

A cyber attack refers to malicious activities carried out by individuals or groups with the intent to compromise computer systems, networks, or digital devices and exploit them for personal gain, disruption, or other destructive purposes.

Every business owner or executive should discuss the following questions with all stakeholders to assess your risk for a cybersecurity breach:

  • How would we know if an unauthorized person accessed our data?
  • How often do we test for vulnerabilities?
  • In the event of a breach, do we have an Incident Response plan in place?
  • How confident are we of our current security breach solution?
  • Have we completed a security assessment recently?
  • Are we confident that we are appropriately protected and that we have visibility to detect active security concerns?
  • Are we aware of any security incidents occurring over the last year? If so, what were they? What was the extent of the incident? What were the takeaways?

Businesses face cybersecurity risks in several areas that can impact operations, reputation, and overall success. Some key concerns include:

  • Financial loss
  • Data breaches and loss of intellectual property
  • Operational disruption
  • Damage to reputation and customer trust
  • Supply chain risks

Organizations can implement the following measures to identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

  • Risk Assessment: Perform a comprehensive risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities, threats, and their potential impact on the organization. This assessment should cover all aspects of the organization’s IT infrastructure including networks, systems, applications, and data.
  • Regular Security Audits: Conduct periodic security audits to evaluate the effectiveness of existing security controls, policies, and procedures. These audits can help identify gaps or weaknesses in the organization’s security structure.
  • Penetration Testing: Conduct regular penetration testing exercises to simulate real-world attacks and identify vulnerabilities in systems and applications. This proactive approach helps organizations discover vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Utilize vulnerability scanning tools to inspect networks and systems for known vulnerabilities. These tools can identify software configuration weaknesses, which should be addressed promptly.
  • Employee Education and Training: Implement a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness and training program for all employees. Educate them about common security threats, safe computing practices, and how to identify and report potential security incidents.
  • Incident Response Planning: Develop an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach. This plan should include procedures for detecting, containing, and recovering from cybersecurity attack.
  • Engage Third-Party Experts: Consider involving third-party cybersecurity experts who can provide objective assessments of the organization’s preparedness. These experts can conduct audits, penetration tests, and offer recommendations for improvement.
  • Continuous Improvement: Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Regularly reassess and update security measures as new threats emerge, technologies change, and business needs evolve. Stay informed about the latest security trends and best practices.
  • Work from Home Employees: Have safety measures in place to avoid introduction of cybersecurity threats associated with remote work or other outside sources.

Watch this Cybersecurity video to learn more:

If assessing vulnerabilities and shoring up weaknesses in your cybersecurity equipment and practices seems daunting, contact us.   Abilita’s expert telecom consultants have helped countless companies reduce their cybersecurity risks. It all starts with a conversation, then we’ll be with you every step of the way.

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Managing Mobile Effectively

The cell phone has been with us for 50 years – the first mobile call made by Martin Cooper in 1973! A novelty used by only a few has become a necessity for all. With mobile devices now depended upon for voice communications, email, video, internet access, and internal corporate communications and systems, they are an essential part of our everyday lives both professionally and personally.

With such widespread use and reliance on mobile, it’s easy for expenses to balloon. Whether an organization has a few devices or hundreds, it is critical to monitor and manage the costs associated with the services, both for company-owned devices provided to employees and employee-owned devices that are permitted to access corporate resources (BYOD).

A Wireless Expense Management (WEM) program defines the process of monitoring and controlling the costs associated with a company’s wireless services and devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and data plans. Implementing a WEM plan provides several benefits:

Cost savings
Tracking and analyzing wireless usage can identify areas where costs can be reduced, such as unused or underused services and plans, as well as opportunities to negotiate better rates with carriers.

Improved efficiency
Wireless operations can be streamlined by automating tasks such as ordering, tracking, and paying for wireless services.

Enhanced security
Monitoring and controlling access to wireless devices and services helps detect and prevent fraudulent activity and ensure compliance with company policies.

Insight and accountability
Visibility into how wireless devices and services are used across the company allows for well-informed decision-making and optimization of resources.

Implementing a Wireless Expense Management program can provide insight into wireless usage, save money, and improve efficiency. We have helped countless companies implement WEM programs. Here are the steps we follow:

1. Conduct a thorough analysis of the organization’s current wireless usage to identify areas of high usage and potential cost savings.
2. Establish policies for the procurement and management of wireless services and devices, including guidelines for employee usage and reimbursement. Don’t overlook the need to have a plan in place to manage international calling and avoid exorbitant charges if employees are allowed to use phones for personal calling.
3. Deploy the WEM program company-wide and provide training on policies and procedures for all employees.
4. Continuously monitor the WEM program to ensure it is achieving the company’s goals and objectives and make any necessary adjustments to improve its effectiveness.
5. Include procedures for either cancelling service or re-provisioning phones when an employee leaves the company.

Contact Abilita for assistance in developing a WEM program or mobile device policies. Our expert consultants can customize a plan to meet your individual business needs.

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Amplify Audit Benefits

An essential part of any business’s telecom expense management (TEM) program is an audit. It helps identify inefficiencies in the network and saves money by eliminating waste and ensuring that the company is getting the most out of its telecom services. A telecom/datacom audit can also identify areas where the company could make better use of its resources, such as optimizing existing services or negotiating better contracts with service providers. A thorough audit can assure businesses are getting maximum value for their money and that their network is running efficiently.

The Abilita A3 program takes telecom/datacom audits to the next level.

The first step in the process is AWARENESS, which involves establishing a baseline inventory of all services, vendors, and contracts. This should encompass all types of communication services – landline, wireless services, data, and internet – including cloud services.

The next step is an ANALYSIS of the results of the audit to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current services compared to those the market has to offer. It is important to determine whether current capacity is in line with corporate needs and potential, future changes in IT needs. If changes are needed, we will objectively suggest equipment and services since we are not associated with any particular vendor.

The final step is ACTION – the implementation of approved telecom options, continual monitoring, alerts, and project management guidelines. Newly implemented telecom/datacom changes are integrated into business strategy and vision to prepare for future technology changes.

As important as it is, an audit is just part of an overall telecom expense management program. It’s a snapshot in time, whereas TEM is an ongoing process.

A telecom audit and telecom expense management are two distinct processes that have different objectives. A telecom audit includes verifying the accuracy of the billing information provided by the telecom provider. It is used to identify potential billing errors or overcharges and to ensure that all services are being billed correctly. On the other hand, TEM involves optimizing a company’s telecom costs by analyzing usage data, negotiating contracts with service providers, and implementing cost-saving strategies. TEM also includes a system for tracking invoices and payments to ensure that bills are paid on time.

Abilita’s independent consultants can provide both an A3 audit and TEM optimization. We are experts at guiding organizations through the telecom maze. Because we’re vendor agnostic, we find the best solution, tailored to your needs and budget. Contact us to schedule an audit and gain the confidence that your telecom services are optimized for your individual business needs, at the best price.

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Attorneys, CPAs and Technology Consultants: A Common Denominator

All successful businesses and organizations rely on specialists to help them navigate the issues and challenges associated with running a lucrative enterprise.

Businesses secure the services of an attorney to ensure they are operating within the legal boundaries of its industry. An attorney can provide legal advice and representation, draft contracts and agreements, and protect the company from potential liabilities. Having an attorney provides peace of mind – confidence in their ability to help you navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that your business is compliant with all applicable laws.

Likewise, successful businesses utilize accountants to ensure that their financial operations are running smoothly and efficiently. Having an accountant on board helps you make informed decisions about your finances, reduce costs, and maximize profits. An accountant can also help you manage taxes, provide advice on investments, and keep your financial records current and accurate.

Most organizations rely on outside consultants like these to provide valuable services that require specialized knowledge or skills. This is especially true when internal resources are limited or when specialized expertise is needed. Consultants can provide valuable insight and advice that may not be available within the organization, allowing companies to make more informed decisions and stay ahead of their competition. Consultants often have access to resources that may not be available internally, such as industry contacts or specialized technology.

Technology and telecom services are no different.

Technology is an integral part of running a successful business. With the ever-changing technological landscape, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and innovations. This is where a technology consultant can help. These experts can provide invaluable insights into how to best utilize technology for your business, helping you remain competitive in today’s market. They can help identify areas where investing in new technologies or upgrading existing ones can maximize efficiency and cost savings. With specialized knowledge and expertise, a technology consultant can be an invaluable asset for any business looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Telecom consultants can equip your business to make informed, reliable, cost-effective decisions when it comes to choosing the right telecom services for your organization. They can also help you save time by providing advice on which services best fit your specific needs and budget. Furthermore, they can assist in negotiating better deals with providers to get the best value for the money.

When starting a telecom project or reviewing your current services, consider engaging a specialist. Using internal resources often seems to be the easiest way to proceed. However, before you go this route, ask yourself a few pertinent questions:

  • Is your staff already working at capacity?
  • Is your staff up to date on the latest technology?
  • Do they know what capabilities are available?
  • Do they understand the strengths and weaknesses of vendors, and how they impact their competence and longevity? Are they familiar with vendor pricing models and current market rates?

Technology and telecom projects that don’t go well can create frustration for users and customers, and also reflect badly on management. A truly independent and objective consultant can help guide the process to ensure that the outcome of your project or review is the best solution, at the best price, and on the best terms.

Contact us directly to start a conversation about your datacom and telecom challenges and needs. Abilita has the answers!

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How to Prepare for Changes in POT Services

Over the last several months there have been countless articles written about the state of POTS (plain old telephone services) lines and their demise. Copper, analog lines aren’t going to disappear and stop working overnight while there are big changes coming to services that were traditionally served by those products. Here are the realities you can expect as these transitions take place.

Reality 1: Costs will rise. Most carriers have increased their charges for out-of-contract POT Services. Some have increased by 400% or more.

Reality 2: It will take longer to get service issues resolved.

Reality 3: New services may not be available at any cost.

POT Services are Still Needed

Organizations need to continue to provide for and support the applications that have historically relied on POTs services.

Fire alarms, burglar alarms, elevator phones, and other services have used POTs lines and the functionality needs to be maintained. Some industries – such as health care and legal services – have relied on traditional phone lines for FAX transmission. Many retailers use POTs lines for their Point-of-Sale systems.

What Should You Do?

  1. The first step is to establish a baseline of all services and applications that are copper based. It is important to review all vendor contracts to determine the status of the term, when it expires, and what the vendor options are at the end of the term. If the service is out of term, you need to determine when and if the pricing will change and by how much.
  2. Consider the alternatives if your analysis shows that costs will be rising. Most organizations’ facilities have an internet connection, but to assume that you can move the current analog services to the internet service is probably an oversimplification. For example, there may be some regulatory issues to consider. For medical applications, HIPAA is a requirement, as is PCI for retail, and serious compliance considerations exist for fire alarm systems and NFPA 72.
  3. Start a conversation with your current vendors early in the process. Many have indicated that they have products and services either currently available or planned for future deployment. They understand the severity of the issue and want to keep you as a customer.  Some vendors can rapidly implement solutions without a major change to your existing infrastructure. Some services can be added to your existing network and others can use alternative technologies such as (long-term evolution) LTE (cellular).
  • AT&T has announced AT&T Phone for Business – Advanced which is a cloud-based replacement for traditional phone and data lines. It provides analog Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connections that can also support dedicated specialty lines such as fax, alarm lines, elevators, and point-of-sale terminals. It also has LTE capabilities and battery backup.
  • MetTel has a “POTS in a Box” offering that connects with broadband, 4G LTE and/or Wi-Fi. Cellular can be the primary connection or used as a backup in the event of a primary circuit failure. It is also NFPA 72 fire code compliant.
  • Ooma addresses the POTS replacement issue with a solution that rides on a wireless network. With this solution, there is no need to replace existing hardware. You can continue using your existing devices.

The point is this – there are changes coming to the traditional analog, copper infrastructure and you need to either prepare for them in an organized, proactive way or you’ll eventually be stuck with rising costs and limited vendor resources.

The best way to be proactive is to become aware of your options and alternatives. Talk to your vendors to discover what their plans are. If you don’t have the in-house resources or the time, consider engaging a technology consultant. Abilita’s independent, objective consultants specialize in cost reduction, technology review and recommendations, and contract negotiations and are ready to assist. Watch our brief video through the link below to learn how we can help, then give us a call!

Telecom consulting services – Abilita Communications Technology Consultants


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The Time is Now to Lower Your Telecom Costs

Telecom/Datacom is typically one of the top five business operating expenses. Facing a new year and an uncertain economic forecast, it’s the best time to do everything possible to trim costs on your organization’s telecom/datacom expenses.

To access areas to cut back, start by identifying services that are in use: where/by whom are they used; what do they cost; and what are the contract terms?

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What’s Up With POTS Lines?

Over the last several months, there has been a great deal of discussion and a lot of articles written about the demise of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines. Some organizations have been proactive in addressing the issue and others have not done anything and have taken an “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” attitude.

A recent FCC ruling has removed the requirements for carriers to provide analog, copper-based services at competitive rates. These services include voice-grade analog lines (including fire and burglary alarms, elevator lines, entry systems, and backup circuits), T1s, PRI circuits, and others. This does not mean that your services will one day stop working. But the recurring costs and new circuit availability can be changing dramatically.

From a vendor perspective, this is something that has been on their roadmap for several years. The copper-based infrastructure has been the lifeblood of their revenue, but it is aging, becoming more expensive to install and maintain, and people who are trained on the services are retiring. Newer fiber-based services are what they are building.

What does this mean for users? In general, it means that these services will become more of a headache for IT and telecom managers.

Costs will continue to rise. If you have copper lines that are not under contract, do a cost comparison of those lines from 6 – 12 months ago and you will see a significant rise in costs. We have seen costs increase by more than 200%. One client we are working with has seen costs increase from $274 to $890 per month.  Take a look at the  graph below of the trend in recurring costs.






And, at the end of the contract term, you cannot assume that you can renew the contract at the current rate.

The time to repair will get longer.  Carriers are deprioritizing the maintenance of these services. Materials needed to maintain the infrastructure are not being stored and the labor force required is aging out and they are not being replaced. Intermittent service issues will be difficult to get addressed and resolved.

New copper services won’t be available. Although current copper-based services won’t be turned off, it is probable that new services will not be available. Carriers will stop taking orders and instead propose fiber-based services.

Regardless of the organization’s size or the number of lines involved, you will be impacted by these changes. And there isn’t a better time to get prepared. Use the following links for insight!

The first step is to become AWARE. Do a complete audit and inventory of all lines, circuits, contracts, and costs to determine what services are at risk for increased costs. Take note of any anomalies like unexpected cost increases and look for services that are not being used.

Then ANALYZE what options are available. Most carriers have products and services that can provide the functionality of legacy services. But it is not an overnight process, and the transition needs to be monitored. Do an analysis of before and after costs to ensure the economic benefit is there. Make sure that the services you are replacing are actually needed.

Finally, take ACTION or be prepared to take action at the right time.

If your company doesn’t have the time or the resources to perform these tasks, or if you would like to talk to an independent consultant, please contact us by calling our number above or by email at  Your query will be directed to one of our regional offices for a quick reply.

admin@abilita.comWhat’s Up With POTS Lines?
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Why you must validate compliance with the new E911 Laws

With Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act in force, it is critical that all organizations verify their compliance with these laws.

While participating in the 2022 Enterprise Connect annual conference panel on Managing E911 for Compliance and Safety, Martha Buyer, an attorney who was involved with the creation of Kari’s Law, stated, “Enterprises that operate multi-line telephone systems, and have either installed new systems or completed a major upgrade since February of 2018, don’t really have an excuse for non-compliance that would likely hold up in court. There are other areas of state and federal laws that if not specifically requiring compliance, suggest that non-compliance is a bad place to be. Specifically, OSHA regulations require organizations provide a safe workplace. It would not be a tough argument to make in court that anything that could be construed as denial to access of 911 absolutely creates an unsafe workplace.”

How does your organization comply with these new laws? It is in every organization’s best interest to verify full compliance with these laws. Besides the precedent of a large award for the wrongful death of Kari Hunt Dunn, with these laws, there is also the potential of daily fines.  “Law requires reasonable efforts to be compliant.” states Buyer.

Who needs to be compliant? It makes good business sense to update your phone systems to meet the requirements of these laws. Kari’s Law requires that there is no pre-fix needed for outbound calls to 911. Part of the $42 million settlement was awarded from the hotel owner, OM Lodging, LLC as a result of the neglect of proper configuration of the MLTS. For specific information on compliance, refer to this FCC site:

Also, with every 911 call, notifications MUST be sent to a department or persons onsite responsible for safety to inform them about the incident. When 911 call notifications are received, it is recommended that personnel be sent immediately to the place of the emergency to provide aid until the first responders arrive. Personnel should be sent to the site entrance to meet the emergency responders when they arrive to expedite their ability to find the person in distress.

RAY BAUM’S Act adds requirements that dispatchable location information is sent to the local public safety answering points (PSAP). To simplify, a call to 911 must provide dispatchable location information including addresses 1 & 2 where address 1 is the physical street address, and address 2 provides the internal location like suite/room/floor information to assure the person calling can be found quickly by the first responders. The law requires MLTS systems must have enabled this 911 functionality where available, and it must be implemented and maintained. This law requires full compliance by the MLTS manufacturers, distributors, and users of the MLTS since January 2022.

Remote workers and wireless devices are now included in the 911 laws as of January 2022. This has become extremely important in a post-pandemic “work from anywhere” workplace where the physical location of workers may change daily. According to Managing E911 for Compliance and Safety panelist Mark Fletcher, VP Public Safety Solutions for 911inform, LLC and co-author of Kari’s Law, “240 million 911 calls a year, that’s 85% of all 911 calls, are made from mobile devices.”

Buyer also noted that although there may be a small number of organizations that do not fit under the requirements of these two E911 laws, all organizations are required to “provide a safe workplace” under OSHA regulations.

Verification of compliance requires due diligence. It can seem like an insurmountable project to begin. Following are recommendations for getting started on compliance and how to test 911 calls.

Here are ideas to get you started:

  • Determine what devices or systems for your organization fall under these laws. Use the basic rule if a device can be used to make an outside call, it should be compliant.
  • Develop internal policies to ensure 911 use and regulatory compliance.
  • Establish procedures for setup and maintenance. Test often and routinely like other safety procedures and equipment.
  • Meet with first responders to determine what they require to help someone in need of emergency assistance at your locations.

How to test 911 calls:

Your first step in testing 911 calls is to identify your PSAP for your business locations. Use this link to determine the local PSAP for your locations. Coordinate with local first responders/PSAP when test calls will be made which are not emergencies.

Second, make test calls to determine what information is sent to the PSAP. Call 911 from every location (site, building, etc.) and record data of what the PSAP receives. This includes the telephone number (TN) displayed, the address displayed, the caller name displayed, and PSAP where the call was routed. 

Third, ensure the phone system is configured properly. Verify latest 911 functionality is enabled and configured. Verify the TNs associated with the correct location HUB as provisioned. 

Fourth, work with the supplier and CPE vendor to make any necessary corrections. This may include correcting the Caller ID information sent out, and changing incorrect service address information – Address 1 & 2. 

Finally, test again until compliance is verified.

There is a sample questionnaire available for download to use for making test calls and tracking information.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive testing procedure, only a starting point for crafting a test procedure that best helps your organization meet compliance. Education is key to make employees, contractors, customers, visitors, etc. aware of the process for dialing 911. It’s also important to understand the limitations of the technology. There still needs to be a human element to ensure the proper help is sent to the person in distress.

Organizations should enlist the help of a communications technology consultant to manage projects to verify compliance which includes a first-time verification process and follow up verifications annually or when major changes are made to a MLTS or within your organization. These procedures should become part of the internal safety and disaster plan that is tested and maintained annually.

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Moving Beyond POTS

Our industry has been inundated with news about the demise of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines. Recently, the FCC issued a new order with the goal of abandoning the rapidly deteriorating copper wiring infrastructure throughout the US. Through this order, the FCC is allowing Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) to stop providing analog POTS services.

Carriers now have the option to stop providing these services while being allowed to increase the price those services. We’ve seen carriers announce “end of life” plans for their services in the next year and carriers raise the rate for a single analog phone line to quadruple the monthly rates as an enticement to move to IP-based communications using their fiber or cellular networks.

From a carrier perspective, there are many reasons to move customers away from the legacy copper services. The carrier equipment to support those services is old – difficult and expensive to maintain. The workforce that supports this equipment is retiring and not being replaced. In addition, it is expensive to put copper in the ground.

Services that you most likely are using POTS for include things like: fax machines, fire alarms, elevators, and security alarms. These services may not be at the top of your technical project list, but they are critically important to your organization. These services may not be forced to be replaced right away, but the cost will rise significantly, and you may not be able to get the services in the future from your provider.

Now is the time to plan. There are solutions that can be deployed to replace those lines – driven by your schedule and requirements.

For a guide to help you through the maze of issues and options – give us a call or reply back to this email.

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Here is why you should review your wireless spend!

Many times, the work from home and work from anywhere approach to maintain business continuity has been a decision made in a crisis mode, not knowing if it would be permanent or a short-term strategy until things got back to normal.

During the pandemic many companies have experienced an increase in wireless telecom expenses. We have seen organization’s wireless costs increase by 30% or more as their employee’s data use skyrocketed.

Here are some tips to potentially reduce your wireless expenses:

                Review your wireless bill to potentially reduce expenses

                Review your plan’s usage behavior to identify high volume users

                Review your plans to make sure devices are on the most efficient plans available

                Leverage a 3rd party consultant to guide the review process

In 2020, Abilita consultants generated costs savings averaging 30% for our clients with wireless expense management being the highest share of this savings. Get control of your wireless costs with Abilita’ s unique A3 Program: Awareness – Analysis – Action.

Click here to download our whitepaper on the subject.

For a 10 minute no obligation conversation, please click here to schedule a meeting at your convenience.

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