Stealing data via a desktop telephone?

Data protection is a hot topic. In many countries worldwide new data protection laws are implemented. These laws are created to ensure that personal data as stored and processed by companies and organizations will be protected against theft and modification.

A well-known example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as approved by the EU last year, which will become active in 2018. It will become law in all member countries. It is not a directive which can have different interpretations and timelines per country but will be the same law in all member states.

Data protection regulation is relevant when data can identify or provide information about a specific person. Personal data can be anything. Names, addresses, etc. of course. But also photos, financial documents or medical data. And – taking the European laws as an example – not just for the data owner, but also for third parties processing the data (e.g. cloud service providers) on his behalf. It also means that most regulation crosses international borders. The EU regulation applies to all companies who process personal data of European citizens.

What does data protection regulation cover? Typically, companies need to have a proper administration of which data are stored where (including local spreadsheets with customer data). They also should make it possible for customers to have their data erased and the design of their systems should guarantee data protection (called ‘privacy by design’). Finally, they have to inform the regulator and public about data breaches that occurred and penalties are increased to the level which can mean a serious financial risk for a company.

However, it is not just about your data infrastructure

Of course, everything is data nowadays. Also, voice telephony is a data service, and that is specifically the case for VoIP infrastructures and services as deployed in many companies and organizations. We noticed however that the key focus of many data protection projects is on traditional ICT infrastructures. VoIP is often a blind spot.

While…it is also about voice communications

Ignoring VoIP could mean a serious mistake, however. Let’s have a look for example at a medical institute. Patients definitely don’t like the idea that their information becomes public. Nevertheless, the phone can provide easy access to these data. First of all, a modern desktop telephone provides access to the complete contact list of the user of that extension. A customer list, or – in the medical institute – the list of patients for example. This is just a beginning. The desktop phone also gives direct access to the voicemail system, which may disclose some very sensitive information. For example, if one medical specialist shares his diagnosis with a colleague. The biggest risk is however that office phones are the perfect social engineering tool. If someone has unauthorized access to a business telephone, just his caller ID makes him a trusted person to other employees of the organization as well as staff from other organizations. This trusted personal contact is the best way to acquire sensitive information and other personal data.

So, are your business telephones secured?

Most people think that advanced business desktop telephones can be secured by a PIN or something similar. Which is true. However, this security is often not used. The security mechanism most of the time means that employees have to enter a username (for example an email address) and PIN via the very basic keypad of their telephone, which is a very inconvenient procedure. So in many occasions, once logged in, people keep their phones logged in as long as possible. Or the login mechanism is disabled completely. There are examples of professional service managers actually giving such advice to their end-users.

The impact is that many office telephones provide open access to private and other sensitive data. Not at a level that millions of customer or patient records can be downloaded at once. But still, via the telephone, private documents and other information can be stolen from your organization right now. Therefore, protecting your office telephones may be an essential step in your companies data security plans.

What Canada Telecom Needs To Grow

The Canadian Telecom Summit 2014 was held at the Toronto Congress Centre earlier this month. In one of his speeches during the course of the event, Rogers CEO Guy Laurence, made a bold statement – as an industry, telecom was resorting to complex pricing plans and methods that was not helping their customers get productive. One example of productivity that Guy mentioned was with respect to resolving issues through a call centre. Guy said that a lot of people do not want to talk to a call center person regarding these complexities because that inevitably stretches the discussion to 30 minutes or more. People want to go online and fix their problem in 3 minutes, not 30.

What Guy mentioned illustrates the growing need for telecom operators to make their after-sales support and service seamless and frictionless. With telecom operators today offering a wide range of services from landline, wireless, broadband, business networking, broadband TV, etc., customers find it cumbersome simply juggling through the various options thrown at them by the IVRS before they can talk to a customer service representative.

The good news is that the telecom operators are already looking at ways to streamline the operations. Guy Laurence is only six months into his job and has announced plans to streamline operations within the company to increase customer productivity. Rogers is not alone. One of the other companies that is seen to taking up rapid strides in this area is Manitoba based AllStream. Last month, AllStream became the first major telecom network in Canada to be MEF CE 2.0 certified. In a press release, AllStream noted that this certification is an acknowledgement of process innovation in their E-Line and E-Access line of carrier ethernet network services. These services in the company’s portfolio are aimed at simplifying the network infrastructure for organizations in multiple locations.

The announcement of simplification of processes is a great step for better telecom infrastructure in Canada. A study published by The School Of Public Policy last year noted that while the pricing policies of Canadian telecom providers was not out of the ordinary and compared well with similar markets worldwide, one of the main reasons that is ailing the sector is ‘political interference’ which in turn has been the reason for the general lack of innovation within the industry.

Various studies have shown that Canada is witnessing robust growth in modern telecom services including wireless technology. The subscriptions and consequently the revenue growth have been multi-fold over the past decade or two. The rapid growth could often make old restrictive practices redundant. The need of the hour is then for the government to take a re-look at all the policies and amend them in order to ensure telecom carriers can grow freely and widely in future. This, and the competition that will ensue will be the primary driver for simplification and process improvements that this industry so desperately needs.

Mobile Number Portability In India – How To & Points To Note

The Telecom Regulatory in India has finally rolled out mobile number portability in the country after an excruciatingly long wait of over two years. To be clear, the complete roll out is not expected to happen until the end of this year and the feature has only started to roll out from Rohtak, Haryana. Close […]

The Telecom Regulatory in India has finally rolled out mobile number portability in the country after an excruciatingly long wait of over two years. To be clear, the complete roll out is not expected to happen until the end of this year and the feature has only started to roll out from Rohtak, Haryana. Close to 10% of the current mobile phone subscribers are expected to switch to another carrier in the first year itself.

So if you are one of those looking forward to make a switch yourself, this is how you should go –

  • Send an SMS to 1900 that reads PORT<space>mobile number from the mobile phone number you wish to port. For instance, if your phone number is 9876543210, type PORT 9876543210 and send it to 1900.
  • You will now receive an SMS that contains your 8-digit Unique Porting Code (UPC). Make a note of this number.
  • Approach the new carrier you wish to migrate to and ask for the prescribed form. You will need to make a mention of your UPC in this form.

That’s basically it. The new carrier will work on your application and the porting shall be completed within seven working days.

Fee & Minimum Stay Period

Before you start applying, there are a few points to note. Firstly, porting a number is not free and will require you to pay a fee of up to Rs. 19 to the new carrier. Given the cut-throat competition in the Indian market, expect the actual fee to be a lot lower if not zero in most cases. Secondly, once migrated to a new carrier, the subscriber cannot make another move for at least 90 days. So, be sure of your migration plans before approaching the new carrier. Also, the UPC is valid for a period of 16 days and so you have to apply to the new carrier before the UPC expires.

Balance Amount Transfer

For pre-paid customers, do note that migrating your number to a new carrier will mean that you shall be losing any prepaid balance that you have in your existing account. So remember to use up all your carrier minutes before you approach the new carrier.

Post-paid users need to remember that the MNP application could be rejected if you have not completely paid all your dues with the existing carrier. Make sure your last bill has been paid for.

Tata DoCoMo 3G Data Pricing Unveiled

Tata DoCoMo became the first Indian carrier to unveil their 3G data pricing yesterday. And carrying on with their usual innovative and aggressive pricing structure, the carrier has announced some really interesting plans. For a first, there is not much differentiation in the way pre-paid and post-paid plans are structured. Also, the voice-call pricing is […]

Tata DoCoMo became the first Indian carrier to unveil their 3G data pricing yesterday. And carrying on with their usual innovative and aggressive pricing structure, the carrier has announced some really interesting plans. For a first, there is not much differentiation in the way pre-paid and post-paid plans are structured. Also, the voice-call pricing is very similar to the 2G plans that have existed until now.

The 3G tariff plans start at Rs. 350 for pre-paid and and Rs.500 for post-paid subscribers and extend up to Rs.2,000 per minute depending on the amount of data that the user will consume. While the Rs.350 plan will come with 500 monthly minutes for voice-calls and 150MB of data consumption, the higher end Rs.2,000 plan will provide 5,000 monthly minutes of voice calling and 2GB of data. That’s extremely competitive pricing considering you can attain speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps.

Tata DoCoMo 3G Tariff

New AT&T PAYG Data Plans For Notebooks Announced

Until now, notebook users who wanted a 3G connection from AT&T had to sign up for one of those long term contracts. Considering that many of these users also travel frequently, a PAYG plan makes much more sense. AT&T has finally opened up their Pay-as-you-go data services to these users.

Unlike contracts, these plans can be purchased pre-paid and the user gets to access a predetermined amount of data for a specified duration of time. There are three different plans to start with – a daily pass that costs $15, a weekly pass for $30 and a monthly plan for $50. These plans come with a data cap of 100MB, 300MB and 1GB respectively.

These plans are definitely not for the heavy user considering the frugal data bandwidth on offer. Nevertheless, if you are one who simply would not want a contract, this is a better alternative.

Telenor To Quit Indian Telecom Market?

The highly competitive Indian telecom market and the resulting rock-bottom pricing plans has had a casualty. Telenor ASA (PINK:TELNY, OSL:TEL ), the Scandinavian telecom company that made its debut in the Indian market as Uninor, is learned to mulling a pullout from the country where the company has seen a massive $556 million operating loss […]

The highly competitive Indian telecom market and the resulting rock-bottom pricing plans has had a casualty. Telenor ASA (PINK:TELNY, OSL:TEL ), the Scandinavian telecom company that made its debut in the Indian market as Uninor, is learned to mulling a pullout from the country where the company has seen a massive $556 million operating loss since inception. A major reason for this is said to be the aggressive pricing wars led by market leaders like Airtel that has seen it extremely unaffordable for new entrants to make their mark in the Indian market.

Telenor executives are expected to huddle up in Oslo on September 21 on the sidelines of the annual investor meet to make a final call on their India venture. Uninor currently holds a 0.95% market share in India with close to 6.02 million subscribers.

The board expected its India venture to break even within a three year duration. However, with the company’s bleeding losses unlikely to result in a break even so soon, investors have been pressurizing the board to quit their India venture that will finally see an announcement later this month.

Tata DoCoMo MySong Pricing – How It Works

Tata DoCoMo has unveiled a comprehensive new MySong functionality – the reverse caller-tune feature that lets users select a song that they would like to hear when they make a particular call. According to the new plans, the MySong offering is now available at a weekly subscription cost of Rs.10. Subscribers will be allowed to […]

Tata DoCoMo has unveiled a comprehensive new MySong functionality – the reverse caller-tune feature that lets users select a song that they would like to hear when they make a particular call. According to the new plans, the MySong offering is now available at a weekly subscription cost of Rs.10. Subscribers will be allowed to change their songs for free and can hold a maximum of up to 50 songs in their library. Also, at an additional monthly subscription of Rs.30, users may choose to set their MySong as a caller tune – that will let other callers hear the song when they make a call.

The latest offering can find a larger appeal considering the existing plan that let users pay Rs.10 per-song that had a 90 day validity. And that is on top of the Rs.15 per month to just sign up to the service.

If you are looking to sign up, just dial 543217 from your Tata DoCoMo mobile phone.

Browse Websites Via SMS Text Message With HP SiteOnMobile

HP Labs India is learned to be working on a new technology that will allow users to access contents of a website through commands sent via an SMS text message or using voice commands. According to a report published on the ReadWriteWeb, the new technology is built with the help of a Cloud-based application developed […]

HP Labs India is learned to be working on a new technology that will allow users to access contents of a website through commands sent via an SMS text message or using voice commands. According to a report published on the ReadWriteWeb, the new technology is built with the help of a Cloud-based application developed by HP named Tasklet.

However, this technology may not be used to visit any random website. The SiteOnMobile feature will require website publishers to develop tiny widgets of contents called tasklets that are mapped to specific SMS text messages or voice commands that reside on the HP Tasklet server. Consequently, every time a user sends an SMS to access a particular website, the website tasklet that is mapped to the particular SMS text message is retrieved and sent to the user as an SMS. Alternately, users may also choose to receive IVR based voice outputs.
HP Labs SiteOnMobile

HP is currently working with select publishers in this new technology. The company has stated that the focus is currently on testing and popularizing the service and that monetization is presently not a priority.

BSNL 3G Services To Be Outsourced

State run telecom service provider – the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is learned have invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from interested parties who would be willing to take upon the business of customer acquisition, marketing and sale of 3G services on behalf of the carrier. According to reports on the Business Standard, the company […]

State run telecom service provider – the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is learned have invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from interested parties who would be willing to take upon the business of customer acquisition, marketing and sale of 3G services on behalf of the carrier.

According to reports on the Business Standard, the company has decided to take the franchise route in order to cut costs. As you may already know, the extremely high competition among carriers in the Indian telecom industry coupled with the price wars have meant low margins and subsequently financial losses for the state run carrier.

BSNL is working on the finer details of the franchisee agreement. Existing mobile services provider or companies that have not won the 3G spectrum bids themselves are expected to be approached for BSNL’s latest partnership.

Free Facebook For Airtel Live Customers

Bharti Airtel has announced a new offer by which customers can keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook for free. Accordingly, customers accessing Facebooks’s mobile page – http://m.facebook.com from their Airtel connected phone can browse through news feed, post status updates and view friend profiles without charge. To access the service, users must […]

Bharti Airtel has announced a new offer by which customers can keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook for free. Accordingly, customers accessing Facebooks’s mobile page – http://m.facebook.com from their Airtel connected phone can browse through news feed, post status updates and view friend profiles without charge.

To access the service, users must first enable Airtel Live services which is activated for free by texting ‘LIVE’ to 543210 (toll-free). Once done, users may get the Facebook link by texting ‘FACEBOOK’ to 54321 (toll-free).

Airtel’s offer is clearly in a move to encourage more users to use their mobile phone for accessing internet. Also, this is not an unlimited time offer. Airtel has noted that free access to Facebook will end on August 15, 2010.

Nevertheless, this is a wonderful offer which I believe many of you may be interested in.