Need New Technology? Calculate Your End-of-Year Section 179 Deduction for 2020

Time is running out to leverage the Section 179 deduction for this year…

Section 179 of the federal tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase or lease price of new technology the first tax year – up to $1,040,000.

Yes, this deduction applies to both leased and purchased equipment. When you buy or lease, you can deduct the full amount on your taxes. When you lease, you pay the monthly lease payments and you still get to deduct the full purchase price on your taxes.

Whether you choose to purchase or lease, you’ll need to put the equipment/software into service by the end of the day December 31, 2020.

Follow this link for more information about Section 179, which includes a savings calculator. Click here.

Then reach out to TCI to discuss new solutions that can help your business get ahead. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Stay Vigilant… 5 Techniques Bad Guys are Using to Breach Your IT

While we all know security is important, sometimes day-to-day operations overwhelm our good intentions to keep up with fast-moving technology threats. Staying safe means being continually aware and taking precautions against the more common techniques bad guys are using to breach businesses every day:

1. Spoofing – Email spoofing is when the sender address is forged to make it appear that their email comes from a trusted source, such as your bank. The email can send you to a bogus website where your account details can be stolen. Or it appears to come from inside your own organization, asking you to change your password or confirm your details.

2. Phishing – Often posing as a request for data from a trusted source, this attack is launched via email and asks users to click on a link. Over time, phishing has evolved to include Spear Phishing (targeted attempts highly personalized for a specific individual) and Whaling (phishing scams that target high-profile users and decision makers).

3. Hijacking – This attack changes a computer’s settings to either ignore DNS or use a DNS server that is controlled by malicious hackers. The attackers then redirect communication to fraudulent sites. Website hijacking is commonly used to redirect users to fake login pages for banks and other online services in order to steal their login credentials. It can also be used to redirect security sites to non-existent servers to prevent affected users from updating their security software.

4. Malware Insertion – This refers to a variety of cyber threats including Trojans, viruses and worms which typically steal data or destroy key computer functions; usually introduced through email attachments, website visits, software downloads, or operating system vulnerabilities.

5. Ransomware – This is a specific type of malware that requires some sort of ransom payment to either remove it or to retrieve files that had been encrypted. Ransomware has been around for a long time, but it made news in recent years when payments started to be demanded in Bitcoin, making this activity virtually risk-free for cyber criminals.

IT security is a big challenge. TCI security experts can help keep your business safe. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Wi-Fi as a Service Offers Faster Broadband Connections & Simplifies IT

Wireless Made Easy… From growing offices to large corporate enterprises, TCI designs, implements and maintains the wireless networks that keep local businesses connected and running strong. Our expertise includes:

  • Wireless site surveys
  • Wireless coverage testing
  • Access point cabling
  • Wireless security
  • Wireless network management

TCI’s Managed Wi-Fi Service… Simplify and speed up your day-to-day operations. Our Managed Wi-Fi puts intuitive yet powerful tools in the hands of your network administrators:

  • Add wireless capacity in minutes with fully automatic provisioning
  • Manage complex, dynamic environments using Auto RF
  • Throttle bandwidth and block unauthorized applications
  • Streamline device onboarding with built-in Mobile Device Management

Wi-Fi 6 Support… TCI supports enterprise-class Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access points to solve density and throughput challenges. With up to 8 transmit and 8 receive antennas, your applications will always operate at peak performance. In addition to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios, many APs offer a dedicated security radio that:

  • Continuously scans and protects against security threats
  • Senses the RF environment and adapts to interference
  • Automatically configures RF settings to maximize performance

Whatever your environment and business goals, TCI can design, deploy and support a cloud managed wireless solution for you.

Our certified infrastructure experts will ensure your mobile workforce has access to the technology they need to stay productive… Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

The ABCs of Successful Remote Work – “Always Be Communicating”

Remote working can be tough if you haven’t done it before – especially when many people have had to embrace our new reality whether they like it or not. Fortunately, the transition is easier for everyone when processes and systems are in place to keep lines of communication open.

If you don’t share information and give team members visibility over what you’re working on, important files disappear, deadlines get missed, productivity collapses, and projects are scrapped.

  • Use Collaboration Tools – You need to make it as easy as possible to communicate with other members of the team. Email is the most common means to communicate easily, but it is not always the best platform, especially for conversations about ongoing matters or real-time progress updates. Collaboration tools like MiTeam Collaboration Software or Teamwork provide an instant messaging approach to team communication. Ideas, suggestions, feedback, and comments can be pinged back and forth between the team easily, regardless of where they are and what device they’re using. It’s a simple, easy, and fast way to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Centralize your files – Once you’ve ensured your lines of communication are firmly open, you then need to make sure all your files are centralized. This allows relevant parties to access key documents, even when you’re not present. The easiest way to store documents centrally is to use cloud apps such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If you can work and organize in the cloud, then your ability to perform together effectively as a team is greatly improved.
  • Document your processes – You can’t achieve success without having documented processes to follow. Laying out your standard operating procedures in black and white not only gives you a consistent approach to your regular tasks, but it narrows any mistakes made down to two causes: the workflow wasn’t followed or your process needs updating. Achieving effective communication is done through a process of trial and error built upon identifying pain points. Each time you try something new, you create a new process and fine-tune that process until you’re happy with it.

When everyone has a shared sense of how to update one another – and by implementing the right software solutions to achieve this end – you will improve work practices across the organization and see dramatic results.

Need help getting the most out of your remote work initiatives? Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Offer Extended! Move to TCI Host/Cloud Voice… Upgrade Your MiVoice, Toshiba, ShoreTel, or Inter-Tel system

To get your communications up to speed, TCI Host’s Migration Program makes upgrading to the cloud easier and more affordable than ever.

Act Now… This is a Limited Time Offer!

TCI Host is our complete, locally supported Unified Communications service, powered by Mitel. Get everything you need to connect your business – all for a budget-friendly monthly subscription.

When you migrate to TCI Host service from your legacy MiVoice, Toshiba, ShoreTel and Inter-Tel equipment, you’ll get up to 25% off new user licenses and 50% off hardware.

Migrating a MiVoice Business system? Receive one free 6900 series phone (6920, 6930, 6940 models) for every three you buy of the same model.

TCI Host Makes Cloud Voice Easy 

TCI Host is designed for today’s connected workforce, and serves up voice, instant messaging, screen sharing, video and audio conferencing, file sharing, contact center, business app integration and other capabilities from a single interface.

TCI Host is Flexible

We customize every client’s service and our local team handles all the implementation details for you. Our flexible service supports a range of deployment options. Need tailored financing to meet budget requirements? We can support that too.

Time is running out on this offer… Let’s talk now about connecting your business with locally supported TCI Host. Contact our cloud experts today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Using Microsoft Teams? Mitel Has the Voice to Complete Your Experience

Microsoft Teams is a popular productivity tool that encompasses chat, meetings, calling and collaboration. It is included with all Office 365 plans, replacing Skype for Business.

For organizations that are committed to Microsoft Teams, Mitel offers several integration options to enhance Teams with added voice capabilities, providing even more value to your existing Mitel investment:

  • Direct Routing – Allows organizations to connect their Mitel telephony infrastructure to make calls from within the Microsoft Teams environment.
  • MiCollab HotkeyDialing – Included with MiCollab, easily set up hotkeys to dial. Select a phone number in Microsoft Teams and click the MiCollab hotkey combination to initiate a MiCollab call to the phone number.
  • Call2Teams – This third-party solution integrates a Mitel phone system with Office 365, enabling softphone functionality on your laptop within the Microsoft Teams environment.
  • AppDialer – Click-to-dial within the Microsoft Teams environment by creating hotkeys to highlight a phone number and using hotkey strokes to dial.
  • Web Extension – Mitel’s Chrome extension gives you a softphone directly from your web browser. Users will benefit from call history, voicemail, click-to-dial, contacts and more so they can easily place calls from the Microsoft Teams web user interface.

By pairing Mitel with Microsoft Teams, you can save time, reduce costs and improve your calling experience with integrated telephony, conferencing and contact center.

When you need to collaborate, Mitel has the technology to help your teams succeed. TCI will get it all going for you! Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Need to Get Up to Speed on 911-Calling Regulations that Protect Everyone in Your Building?

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of health and safety in the workplace. A pair of recent federal regulations will expedite 911 calling and emergency response – Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act.

These important mandates are intended to protect everyone in your office or building – employees and visitors – by improving access to emergency services:

  • Kari’s Law applies to newly installed, multi-line telephone systems. The law requires that users be able to directly call emergency services by dialing 911 without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line.
  • Ray Baum’s Act requires that 911 emergency operators be provided with the specific location of the calling party so that appropriate assistance can be dispatched to that location.

If you’re planning for a new telephone system or want to be sure your current system is in compliance, you should be aware of these requirements and ensure that your provider’s offerings can comply with them.

FCC order and detailed rules here

Compliance Challenges

As you take steps to comply with the new 911 rules, you’ll want to keep in mind several factors – including the technology used in your IT environment, network topology, and the geographic scope of your phone system deployment.

Also, many states have adopted their own 911 regulations which may contribute to compliance confusion.

Need help with 911 calling compliance in your business? TCI can help.

We’ll get it all going for you! Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Still Running on PRI or Analog Telco Lines? The Business Case for Affordable SIP Trunk Connections

If your business is still running on PRI or analog lines, now is the time to start considering what virtual SIP trunks can do for you.

SIP Trunking offers a number of benefits over outdated network services such as cost savings, increased flexibility to support a distributed workforce, and added business continuity. By running everything over the Internet, you’re able to gain cloud benefits with your current onsite phone system and increase operational efficiency.

Here are a few things to consider as you look at different SIP providers…

  • Performance with Other Communications Solutions – Knowing how your SIP Trunking solution will perform with your other communications solutions is critical to ensure clear call quality and dependable uptime. Older connectivity solutions aren’t optimized to work with modern UC solutions so the connectivity may not perform as well as it could. Make sure your SIP provider is aware of your current communications solutions, so you are properly configured for success.
  • Complexity, Maintenance & Effort Required – As you evaluate virtual trunks, keep in mind the amount of time you spend maintaining your current solution. Determine how much goes into scaling, configuring and budgeting for your hard lines. With traditional, non-virtual trunks, scaling requires adding new physical lines entails time and money to order and install them. With virtual trunks, all you have to do is contact your provider and you can scale instantly.
  • Support for Future Needs & Growth – If your business is expecting growth or you experience seasonal fluctuations in call volume, SIP Trunking is a great way to save time and money. You can add trunks as needed so you’re able to manage resources more efficiently. SIP Trunking also improves business continuity by delivering built-in redundancy and automatic failover destinations. With legacy connectivity solutions, if something happens to your hard lines, you likely don’t have multiple carriers at your fingertips for backup.
  • Resilient & Redundant – SIP Trunking can be delivered over multiple paths and or sites. No longer do you need to be down because the Carrier has a circuit issue. We can move the SIP Trunks to an alternate path or an alternate site and keep your service up and running until the primary path is fixed.

The benefits of SIP Trunking are numerous and compelling. TCI is ready to help you select and implement SIP services from the best providers. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Share these Productivity Tips for Working at Home with Kids and Pets

The spread of coronavirus has forced parents far and wide to move work from the office to their homes. It can be a challenge to try to stay productive while working from home, especially with children or noisy pets. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some tips that can help.

  • Create a Schedule – Kids do better and behave better when they know what to expect. Let them know what your meeting schedule looks like, when quiet time will be, and when they will need to be doing an activity. Let them know when lunch and snack time will be so they’re not tugging on you.
  • Keep Kids Entertained – Getting blocks of time where you can knock out projects, whether 15 minutes or an hour, is heavily dependent on ensuring you can keep the kids entertained. Plan activities ahead of your workday.
  • Separate Roles – If you don’t make a conscious effort to separate both the role of parent and businessperson, you will most likely never fully feel like you are doing either particularly well. If you can, set up a special place in your home that will be your workspace. This will help you separate work and home time, enabling you to focus on work when you are in this space.
  • Get Help If Necessary – First, a partner or spouse can be a wonderful source of additional support with kids. As much as possible try to take turns watching the kids in between projects and work calls. Sometimes additional help is needed. Working from home doesn’t necessarily translate into not needing childcare, at least not every day.
  • Manage Expectations – Often, simply helping a boss or coworker know what to expect can save you both a lot of grief. If you have young kids that need a lot of attention, for example, working with your manager to set realistic and somewhat flexible deadlines (plus or minus a few hours to account for tending to children) is usually much better received when you set that expectation ahead of time.
  • Giving Pets Attention – Much like kids, people find that if they make sure their pets have enough attention, they tend to behave better and create fewer inopportune distractions. A well-placed distraction for your pet can make all the difference.

Working from home with children or pets (or both) can be challenging, especially in this uncertain time. While it might be difficult, keep in mind that continuing to work from home right now can be the difference that keeps employees safe and organizations operating.

Make sure your remote workers have the technology they need to stay productive… Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

Ransomware Attacks Scale Up As Hackers Go After Remote Workers

While the switch to home working has allowed many organizations and employees to remain productive, it has also brought additional risk as IT and security teams try to deal with overlapping personal and corporate networks.

Ransomware attacks soared during the first half of 2020, as cyber criminals looked to spread their file-encrypting malware as millions of people shifted to work from home.

According to an analysis of collected malicious activity published in Skybox Security’s 2020 Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report, ransomware has proliferated, with a 72% increase in new file-encrypting malware.

Security vulnerabilities in remote-desktop protocols – combined with the use of weak passwords by staff – have provided cyber attackers with easy access into many IT networks.

Home workers who have not been provided with clear cybersecurity training are even more vulnerable, and smart hackers know that IT teams are already bogged down trying to support remote working.

To protect against ransomware attacks during the pandemic – and beyond – it’s vital to close any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. This includes having a full view of all connected corporate IT assets so gaps can be identified and remediated.

Need help safeguarding your mobile workforce technology? Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.