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Prepare your hotel's network for the mobile invasion

65% of guests use your Wi-Fi within 7 minutes of arriving at your hotel. So how can you make their first experience an excellent one?

Did you know that your hotel guests would have a hard time choosing between wireless access and air conditioning in your hotel? And, that the majority of your guests would also pick wireless over food? Yes, you read that right – Arbitrip’s 2017 report found wireless service and air conditioning tied as the top guest amenity with breakfast coming in second.

Simply providing wireless connectivity is no longer enough. Guests expect fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi, to the point that they may choose another hotel if your network does not provide sufficient connectivity for their devices. If your hotel network is frequently the source of guest complaints, you are not alone. Many hotels have aging networks that were not built to handle the high network bandwidth they need today, which is largely due to the sheer number of mobile devices that arrive with each guest.

Upgrading your hotel network: Happy guests, productive employees and new services

When you upgrade your hotel network to meet (or hopefully exceed) today’s demands, you give your property a competitive edge. Your guests will be happy with the super-fast wireless, and they will be thrilled by the new services – check-in/checkout, order a drink while at the pool or turn the lights on in their room before entering – that your hotel can now offer with smartphone apps. Your staff can also now communicate and coordinate with each other, as well as guests, using mobile technology from anywhere on the property.

Here are five things to consider when upgrading your hotel’s network:

1. Coverage

In the past, wireless coverage was only needed in a few places – the guest rooms and maybe the lobby. However, today’s guests expect coverage everywhere in the hotel – even pool areas and the parking garage. And employees need to be able to communicate from the housekeeping closet or the maintenance shed at the back of the property.

2. Traffic patterns

Your guests and employees move around constantly while accessing the network, resulting in unpredictable traffic patterns. And they expect the same level of connectivity wherever they are on the property.

3. Throughput

It’s no longer email and Facebook that your guests want to access. They want to use multimedia applications such as streaming video from wherever they are at the moment – their room, the swimming pool, even the golf cart. The result – high bandwidth use.

4. Security

Guests trust your network with their work documents, banking information, travel plans and more, and they expect a network free of viruses and data breaches. This becomes even more challenging to ensure with so many different people and devices accessing your network.

5. Levels of service/access

Not everyone on your hotel property needs the same network access. Guests, employees, management, IT staff – all have different needs. By having the ability to define multiple user types, you can create a different environment on the same infrastructure for each user type, which improves security and service, and helps control bandwidth. Hotels can also provide VIP guest access with special perks – faster service, more bandwidth, or access to premium services or applications.

Contact Amillan today to discuss our range of Hospitality Communications Technology Solutions

02 Jan 2019

Be prepared for the next wave of cyber-attacks…

The recent increase in Cyber-attacks have been a wake-up call to many businesses across the world. We want to make all Amillan customers aware of the following best practice advice to help you ensure your organisation isn't the next to be hit…

Why were organisations vulnerable to the WannaCry ransomware attack?

"1. Failure to apply a security patch from Microsoft - graded the most serious 'critical' update - as of 14 March 2017.

"2. Having their network firewalls configured badly to allow traffic from the Internet or third-parties that should be blocked.”

BBC News 15/5/2017

How can you protect yourself against the next attack?

Amillan recommends all organisations have the following basic security measures in place as a minimum:

  • Establish a regular routine for patching operating systems, software, and firmware on all devices. For larger organizations with lots of deployed devices, consider adopting a centralized patch management system.
  • Deploy IPS, AV, and Web Filtering technologies, and keep them updated.
  • Back up data regularly. Verify the integrity of those backups, encrypt them, and test the restoration process to ensure it is working properly.
  • Scan all incoming and outgoing emails to detect threats and filter executable files from reaching end users.
  • Schedule your anti-virus and anti-malware programs to automatically conduct regular scans.
  • Disable macro scripts in files transmitted via email. Consider using a tool like Office Viewer to open attached Microsoft Office files rather than the Office suite of applications.
  • Establish a business continuity and incident response strategy and conduct regular vulnerability assessments.

Amillan CyberSecure: Advanced cyber security from a trusted partner...

Amillan CyberSecure is a complete network security proposition for a scale-able monthly cost which includes:

  • Next Generation Firewalls to protect against known and unknown threats. 
  • Advanced Endpoint protection for the mobile worker. Protect users from inadvertently compromising their systems without burdensome virus scans.
  • 24x7 cyber security threat SIEM network monitoring service collating intelligence from all your IT devices, with analysis and remedial reporting from Security experts in our Security Operation Centre.
  • Cutting-edge security technology from Palo Alto & Fortinet, Gartner recognised, industry leading cyber security innovators.
  • Free of charge trial audits available for all Amillan CyberSecure services.

Contact us today to learn more and ensure you are prepared for the next attack.

Is your phone system also vulnerable? 

Amillan is aware of a number of PBX phone systems users, who due to inadequate security protection and policies, have already been victims to phreaking attacks in 2017 resulting in great financial loss.

We strongly recommend you and your system users familiarize themselves with our basic advice on protecting your phone system from toll fraud

If you have concerns on the security of your telephony system please call the Amillan Support Centre or your dedicated Account Manager who will be happy to help ensure you have all the necessary precautions in place.

Free of Charge- Amillan CyberSecure Audit

Amillan can offer your organisation a free cyber security audit to help you discover any holes in your security infrastructure, by monitoring and immediately reporting back on any breach- with instructions of actions needed to fix.

Contact Amillan today to learn more and book your free CyberSecure trial.

16 May 2017

Network Security for Further & Higher Education

Colleges and universities are being pressured to increase their ability to acquire and serve staff and students by providing unrestricted, high bandwidth access and services to anyone on or around campus. In many cases, this requires re-architecting networks and data centres to anticipate known and unknown threats, varied user types, unknown devices and new applications. Secure sensitive information of students, alumni and staff as well as academic research and financial transactions. Enable cloud, social media and peer-to-peer usage. Manage and enforce policies on devices, regardless of who owns them.

Colleges and universities are being pressured to…

  • Increase the schools’ ability to acquire and serve staff and students and all of their digital needs.
  • Provide unrestricted, high-bandwidth access and services to anyone on or around campus.
  • Act as a service provider and re-architect networks and data centres to anticipate varied user types, unknown devices and new applications with quality service.
  • Secure sensitive research, student, alumni and staff information against both mundane and targeted attacks.
  • Enable cloud, social media and peer-to-peer usage.
  • Secure the network despite these demands.

Palo Alto Networks Enterprise Security Platform helps Higher and Further Education institutions all over the world meet these demands and deploy new technologies (cloud, mobile, online course delivery and virtualization) without compromising security, scalability or performance.

What Palo Alto does…

  • Secure user, application and Internet access in a way that enables – rather than hinders – the needs of the college or university user.
  • Secure labs, research departments, and other classes with customized data centre access – for cross-department and external collaboration, data centre consolidation, virtualization, hybrid cloud and overall cloud projects.
  • Unify security policy and enforcement capabilities across the Internet edge, data centre, mobile devices and endpoints within the college or university network and campus.
  • Ensure a high quality of service for priority services and applications, allocating bandwidth usage based on application, user, content, or a combination of the three.
  • Accelerate campus-wide administration and forensics.
  • Secure campus WiFi, BYOD, labs and academic research, and student/alumni/staff’s personal information with less overhead.

How Palo Alto is different…

  • Better visibility; faster time to the prevention of both targeted and other attacks.
  • Reduced cost and complexity.
  • Centralized management across campus security appliances and key security functions.
  • Streamlined deployment of configurations and policies.
  • Simplified collection and analysis of logs from multiple locations across campuses.
  • Scalable device management.
  • Rich forensics and logging.

Free Bespoke Security Life-Cycle Report

Amillan can now offer all Higher and Further Education Establishments a free Palo Alto Security Life-Cycle Report.

By placing a Palo Alto appliance on your network and passively monitoring traffic for one week, Amillan can produce a bespoke risk assessment including real exposure to threats, user behaviour, and application usage, helping you better understand the cyber risks your organisation faces.

Contact Amillan today for more information and to arrange your free Palo Alto Security Life-Cycle Report.

15 Nov 2016

BYOD Was Merely an Appetizer; IoT is the Main Course

In recent years, as employees have increasingly brought smart phones and tablets and even their own laptops to work, hoping to connect them to their employers' networks, a raft of challenges have ensued. Chief among these have been the numerous security concerns raised by having to allow unverified devices to access the network, as well as the potential for sensitive business data to leave the network on those devices.

But as vexing as the BYOD phenomenon has been for IT leaders, it has been a mere appetizer to the main course: The widespread adoption of the Internet of Things.

In a recent report entitled "Beyond BYOD to IoT, Your Enterprise Network Access Policy Must Change" Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be 21 billion IoT-connected devices trying to access corporate networks, a number that dwarfs the volume of BYOD devices by a large margin. And here's the real complication: The lion's share of these devices do not have any user associated with them. Providing secure access to a device associated with a user profile is hard enough; doing so for a device that has no access rights or policies to draw on is downright daunting.

In particular, IT departments are struggling with how to identify and apply network access policies to building automation and industrial IoT devices, which Gartner believes will make up 6 percent of those 21 billion devices.

IoT Device Security: Weak or Non-Existent

Add in the fact that most IoT devices have weak security, if they have any security built in at all, and the challenges mount. (Which is why hacked IoT devices recently caused a massive Web outage, and also why Tesla Motors had to address the recent revelation that white-hat hackers were able to access a Model S's breaking system from 12 miles away.)

Worse, many IoT devices are too simple to possess the capacity to add security capabilities, meaning that networks need to be tweaked to address this emerging reality.

Some companies attempt to address this by partitioning certain IoT devices, such as surveillance cameras, onto a separate network. It's a strategy that reflects widespread thinking, as more than 50 percent of respondents to a recent Gartner survey said they consider it important to separate IoT devices from applications.

While separation is wise, it can be better achieved by other means. Routing device traffic onto a separate network not only adds the cost of additional equipment and cabling, it also foists additional management, procurement and support responsibilities onto IT's already bursting workload. And what makes it even more short-sighted is the fact that there are current technologies and strategies that can enable IoT devices to share the same network infrastructure used by employees, guests and applications.

Five Steps to Ensuring a Secure IoT Foundation

That said, securing IoT traffic and devices is a challenge that can't be solved by any single piece of software or burst of creative thinking. It requires a strategic approach, and there are several steps an organization should take if it wants to meaningfully address the complexity and ensure that IoT traffic flows as needed without bringing any surprises along with it:

  • Understand what devices are or will be connected by every part of the business. Facilities management will want control of LED lighting and HVAC sensors and controllers, manufacturing will want to monitor sensors and actuators, and security will want easy access to surveillance systems. Take stock of every way the IoT could possibly benefit the company.
  • Establish profiles that group devices functionally, and create rules that define which applications those devices can access, and which users can then use those applications to control them. For example, LED lights, HVAC sensors and door locks could be grouped together, with access to only the application that controls them, and then facilities management staff should be the only people with access to that application.
  • Make it easy for IoT devices to get on the network. That may sound obvious, but it can be the difference between IT being appreciated or cursed. Networks with well-designed automated device detection and profile association make things simple for users, and in turn IT is not seen as a road blocker.
  • Create virtual segments or containers in the network where IoT devices and the applications that control them can be isolated from other devices and applications. Doing this with simple technologies like VLANs or more sophisticated ones like shortest path bridging bring distinct advantages, such as control of bandwidth, QoS, and prioritization; better enforcement of security policies; and the ability to limit damage in the event of a breach.
  • Tighten security with fine-tuned policies that go beyond device authorization and authentication. A mechanism such as data packet inspection, for instance, can provide additional security by identifying suspicious traffic coming from an IoT device, and then triggering a policy that blocks and quarantines that traffic in a security container.

Taking steps such as these won't guarantee a 100-percent secure IoT environment, but then, nothing will. As with any technology asset, securing IoT traffic requires diligence and constant monitoring. Even if organizations aren't ready to implement IoT solutions, it is still critical to build the foundation required to securely support what's coming.

And make no mistake, regardless of what industry a company is in, the IoT is coming, and it will arrive with the force of a Tsunami. Those organizations that aren't prepared will find themselves overwhelmed, and left behind by thriving, better-prepared rivals…

This article originally appeared on The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Blog and is re-published with permission

Contact Amillan today to discuss how we can help prepare your data network for the IoT

08 Nov 2016

Join Amillan and Enghouse for CX16: 'The Age of the Digital Customer'

Amillan is pleased to announce its participation in Enghouse's CX16 Event. The theme of this years’ event is 'The Age of the Digital Customer' and will be held at the exclusive Hilton Hotel, London Olympia on September 28th, timed to coincide with Contact Centre Expo.  

Key themes include:

  • The Four Facets of Customer Engagement
  • Reducing customer effort by “Connecting your Enterprise”
  • Mobility and self-service as part of your “Digital by Design” strategy
  • Leveraging Microsoft Skype and CRM within your contact centre
  • How to kick start your Cloud Contact Centre
Amillan will be hosting a spotlight session on Customer Engagement, with case studies from some of the UK's leading Social Housing organisations on how multi-channel contact centre technology is transforming the way they engage with their customer bases.  

The Four Facets of Customer Engagement
September 28th - 12:45pm

It’s a fact that every individual digital transaction or customer experience has participants and an audience, and how that transaction is managed and viewed will affect how your organisation is perceived in the marketplace. Critically, this is happening against a backdrop of significant change in the market, and in the customer community that you are serving. So, with insight from Futures Housing Group, we’ll examine what each group of observers are looking for, what a successful transaction should look like to them, and the consequences of getting it wrong.

Presented By: Richard Reid, Amillan Director


To view the full agenda and reserve your place: Click Here To Register Now

14 Sep 2016

Is your communications system a soft target for fraudsters?

PBX hacking is big business for criminals, with fraud losses estimated to be in the region of $4.4 billion. This type of fraud does not discriminate on size of organisation and the costs to businesses can be substantial.

Toll fraud – the unauthorised use of a communication system by hackers – is a method increasingly used by organised criminals who realise that while businesses are often up-to-speed in protecting their networks and PCs against sophisticated attacks, their communication solutions often prove to be a soft target. Organisations usually only discover they have become victims when presented with the bill!

You've been hacked!

Key indicators to look out for are a high volume of calls placed to international numbers from the same internal phone; a peak of long distance, out of hours calls; or an alert from your telephone operator showing multiple short-duration calls to a premium rate number. By this time you have probably been hacked.

Here are the top three factors that put your business 'at risk' to hacking: ageing systems, outdated security policies and careless configuration – particularly when it comes to integrating VoIP phones.

But if you answer 'Yes' to any of the questions below, then your business is at risk:

  • Have the same system passwords been used for more than a year?
  • Do end-users use default voicemail passwords?
  • Are modems connected to the communication server?
  • Are all end-users granted access to international numbers?
  • Are telephone services provided to users outside the company?
  • Has the system administration team recently undergone personnel changes?

Become a control phreak!

It is in response to this growing menace we have introduced a Toll Prevention Audit service to help companies introduce best practices and protection mechanisms to avoid many toll fraud scenarios. Here are the key elements of introducing best practice to help reduce toll fraud:

  • Become a bit of a control 'phreak' yourself – Strengthen passwords and policies. Set call barring rules, password protect long-distance calls or premium rate numbers and implement external transfer and forwarding protection.
  • Keep up to date with software releases and security patches – Hackers will evolve and so should you, which is why it's critical to regularly assess your systems' exposure to fraud. Keep software releases and vendor security patches up to date to ensure you benefit from the very latest product enhancements and technological evolutions.
  • Introduce internal awareness – Educate employees about elementary security practices, as well as their duties and responsibilities. Remind them about confidentiality rules and to guard against revealing technical details about the communications systems.

Businesses who apply the right protection mechanisms can make themselves much less appealing to fraudsters, and by following these simple steps it's possible to ensure your communications solution is not a easy target.

This article originally appeared on The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Blog and is re-published with permission

10 Aug 2016

Amillan supports another successful Wimbledon Championships

Amillan is proud to have worked with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) for over 16 years, most recently supporting the club in their delivery of another successful edition of the world famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 2016.

As always this year’s tournament delivered plenty exciting moments, enjoyed by almost 500,000 visitors and a global TV audience of over 1bn, the 130th edition of the Championships culminated in Britain’s Andy Murray taking his second men’s singles Wimbledon title.

There were also challenging moments off the court, with heavy rain in the first week forcing a rare Middle Sunday of play for the first time since 2004. Having worked to support the Championships for successive years, Amillan was well prepared to react to the dynamic environment, with engineers on-site throughout Wimbledon fortnight to quickly and efficiently resolve any issues that arose ensuring they caused no disruption.

Read our Amillan’s Case Study on the past work we’ve done with The AELTC – including their Centre Court Redevelopment Project.

To discuss how Amillan can provide support for your organisation during critical times Contact Us to arrange a callback.

11 Jul 2016

Where are the security holes in your network?

Your network is facing a rapidly evolving threat landscape full of modern applications, exploits, malware, and attack strategies that can avoid traditional methods of detection. Threats are delivered via applications that:

  • Dynamically hop ports
  • Use non-standard ports
  • Tunnel within other applications
  • Hide within proxies, SSL or other types of encryption

Additionally, your enterprise is exposed to targeted and customised malware, which can easily pass undetected through traditional antivirus solutions.

Many of the above may be stopped by your existing firewall solution, but how many aren’t?

Amillan can now offer all customers a free Palo Alto Security Life-Cycle Report, to help you pinpoint exactly where the holes are in your data network security.

By placing a Palo Alto appliance on your network and passively monitoring traffic for one week, Amillan can produce a custom risk assessment including real exposure to threats, user behavior, and application usage, helping you better understand the cyber risks your organisation faces.

Contact Amillan today for more information and to arrange your free Palo Alto Security Life-Cycle Report.

03 Jun 2016

Work is no longer a place you go to...

Home working, be it part or full time, increases the flexibility of labour while reducing its cost. The ubiquity of high speed internet connections gives an unprecedented flexibility to deploy work more effectively. This technology evolution also has a deep impact on Western countries economics, environment and on enterprise productivity.

Leading management consultants have found that employers expect to use more part time, temporary employees for an optimal use of their permanent workforce. Home working technologies will make it possible to hire a temporary workforce on an ad-hoc basis. This added flexibility could decrease the labour cost by nearly one third in the U.S. and Europe, helping to narrow the off-shored labour cost differences.

Another key factor is the impact on the environment. Home working has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 million tons in 2020. Alcatel-Lucent has calculated that the roll out of home working in one of its subsidiaries of 900 people, home working 50 days a year, had saved over 2,534,000 kilometres (1,575,000 miles), which is the equivalent of driving 63 times around the planet. It saved 318,200 litres (70,000 gallons) of gas.

Each employee also saved money: €231 (£183) each year and time by avoiding more than 100 hours driving during rush hours.

In addition, HR found that remote employees were more productive and satisfied across generations. GenY enjoyed a better work/life balance, and it helped retain and maintain the productivity of 55+ workers. For high performers, setting up their own work while working from any place was liberating and empowering.

What changes in work practices when an employee becomes a home worker? Tasks workers will access their business applications from their laptops while enjoying the voice quality of their IP phone which is just another extension of the telephony system. Knowledge workers will often prefer to collaborate through their PC, enjoying additional media such as IM and video and sharing presentations on line with colleagues, customers and partners. Lastly, travelling knowledge workers will, in many cases, prefer to collaborate from a tablet PC.

But if work is less and less a place we go to, communication and collaboration tools of choice should have the availability they have in the office, providing great ergonomics and be easy to use.

Download Amillan and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's guide to Unified Communications and the evolving workplace.

This article originally appeared on The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Blog and is published with permission

09 May 2016

ForViva Selects Amillan for Contact Centre Solution

Amillan has been awarded a contract to deliver a new multichannel contact centre solution for two ForViva group members. Based in the North West, City West Housing Trust and Villages Housing Association own and manage over 18,000 homes.

Amillan's solution is built upon Enghouse's EICC, a market leading contact centre platform in the housing sector. Multi-channel capability will give customers greater choice in how they engage with City West and Villages, with seamless telephone, e-mail, SMS, live webchat and social media communication channels all supported by the platform.

The chosen solution will also enable more efficient agent management and improvements in service quality via integrated call and screen recording, speech analytics and Teleopti workforce management modules.

Matt Jones, Director of Customer Operations at ForViva, said: “Customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do. We took the decision that an all-in-one multichannel contact centre system would help us improve this by enabling improvements to service delivery and extending customer access via a range of multimedia channels.”

Stuart Taylor, Account Manager at Amillan said: "Amillan is proud to be selected by yet another housing association to help improve how they engage and interact with customers. Based on our experiences with social housing providers, we understand the unique challenges they are facing and we design and deliver solutions which enable them to achieve their strategic goals."

This procurement also places Amillan on a framework agreement for Contact Centre technology, which enables any social housing provider to directly award contracts for contact centre system equipment and software from the approved supplier shortlist, without the need for a complex public tender exercise.

With over 30 years' experience of enterprise voice and contact centre solutions, Amillan has extensive expertise in working with housing associations. Recent successes include a complete Unified Communications and Multimedia Contact Centre solution for Futures Housing Group, as well as long standing relationships with Yorkshire Housing and Trent & Dove Housing.

24 Mar 2016