SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Darc Rasmussen
Darc Rasmussen was appointed CEO and Managing Director of IR in October 2013. Darc is a seasoned 25-year IT and...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Darc Rasmussen | October 31, 2016 |

 
   

Ghost in the UC Machine

Ghost in the UC Machine Frightening hacks and bugs can afflict your unified communications system any day of the year. Happily, there are ways to protect yourself.

Frightening hacks and bugs can afflict your unified communications system any day of the year. Happily, there are ways to protect yourself.

Halloween is upon us. But in the world of unified communications, horror stories happen every day. Here are some of the most gruesome episodes of communications mismanagement that I've come across in my years of experience.

The Case of the Disappearing Contact Centers
Here's a tale that should give every UC professional nightmares. A credit card company was heading into the busy holiday season. It had just instituted the annual change freeze on all modifications and upgrades to its contact centers until after the holidays were over. So far, so good. Then, a week into the season, one of the company's 38 contact centers went down -- disappeared -- and, because of a bug in the software, the backup system did not automatically kick in as intended. The company had to restart its system, which took well over an hour.

Two days later, the same thing happened in another contact center -- and another and another and another, all in different locations. None of the failover systems were working. Needless to say, this was a serious problem, because each hour of outage cost the company between several hundred thousand and several million dollars, depending on the time of day and size of contact center.

The company could not figure out what was happening. Meanwhile, Black Friday and the Christmas rush were fast approaching. The mystery problem was costing it millions, and was soon to start costing far more.

The good news is that the company found and implemented a contact center performance management system that helped pinpoint the problem. The bad news is that the fix entailed upgrading all 38 contact centers to the newest version of the vendor's software. To do this in the midst of the holiday season was simply out of the question.

What to do? The credit card company used the predictive capabilities of its new contact center performance management system to identify leading indicators that the bug was about to be triggered. It then set it up to issue an automated alert whenever it sensed that the bug was about to be activated again. This enabled the company to switch to redundant servers just in time and avoid an outage. The bug manifested itself more than 20 times across various contact centers that holiday season, but the company was able to avert disaster on each occasion.

Sex and the CEO
Disgruntled employees play some of the dirtiest tricks, as in the case of the CEO who was humiliated by a worker who had recently been let go. The dismissed employee hacked into the corporate communications system and diverted the CEO's direct line to a phone sex chat service number -- so whenever someone tried to call the CEO, he or she got a sex chat operator instead.

The company's IT team thought it could fix the problem easily. But the employee had done a good job of his sabotage. The team couldn't figure out how the hack had been executed and spent weeks rooting around the system to no avail. It wasn't until the team implemented a performance management system that it located the problem. Almost immediately, it was able to pinpoint the re-direction, undo the diversion, and save the CEO from further embarrassment.

The moral of this story is that a good monitoring and management tool can help you find and remove malevolent bugs from your phone system no matter how deep they're lurking.

A Chilling Case of Phone Fraud
Phone systems are wide-open targets for fraud. In fact, telephone toll fraud, by dollar value, has a larger impact on businesses than credit card fraud. Toll fraud (PBX and IP PBX hacking) cost businesses an estimated $7.46 billion globally in 2015, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA).

The most common approach for hackers is to commandeer the phone environment at a company and then resell the minutes to people to make calls around the world. The top five countries where fraudulent calls terminate are Cuba, Somalia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, and Latvia, the CFCA reported. One company had no idea what was going on until a month later when the phone bill arrived. And it was terrifying -- several hundred thousand dollars more than the company had ever before seen.

Phone toll fraud hits thousands of businesses every day. The best form of protection is a monitoring tool that can watch your systems and send alerts when calls start occurring to odd places at odd volumes at odd times of the day.

The Silent Killer
When companies first implement a modern unified communications system, complete with all the latest features and accessories, it seems like heaven. The new system suddenly and significantly improves the options that employees have to interact with each other and with customers. The promise of being more productive and customer-centric has everyone excited.

Then hell comes to their house. Employees try joining a conference call and are denied access. When they finally do connect, everybody sounds as if they're underwater. Halfway through the conference, some people mysteriously disappear. Someone tries to share a document but the sharing feature suddenly stops working. Search YouTube and you'll find videos that parody conferences like this, although they're not so funny for participants as they happen to them.

UC systems often sit at the core of an organization's digital transformation. When they work, it's great. But when they don't, they cause loss of money and productivity. Worse, they often cause IT decision makers to start doubting the value of digital transformation or the competency of their technical teams. Worse still, these doubts are not misplaced. In fact, only 30% of today's digital transformation efforts will ultimately succeed, according to Gartner. A 70% failure rate? What could be more frightening?

Fortunately, your own digital transformation can be a sweet one, if you make sure you have performance management systems that help implement properly in the first place and then keep your finger on the pulse of your transformation, avoid disruptions, and get the critical insights you need to succeed.





COMMENTS




September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.