Data security in the Cloud and Telephone numbering schemes
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NLDC Monthly Newsletter

Welcome to our September Newsletter

We aim to provide you with a brief digest of IT information that you will find useful and informative.

Please let us know if this newsletter has been helpful to you. Any feedback will be gratefully received. If there is anything you would like us to address in future issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Please email or use the Contact Form on our website

About NLDC?

NLDC was formed by Neil Davies in 2002 to provide independent IT advice to businesses in the North West. We provide the services of an in-house IT Director, but only when you need it.
We pride ourselves on our integrity, competence, value for money and flexibility. To learn more about the kind of things we do, why not take a look at our website or give us a call on 0161 654 4155, we'll be more than happy to discuss any IT or Telecommunications related queries you may have.

Is Cloud Computing for me?

Our series of articles which focus on Cloud Computing are intended to identify the issues that the salesmen will not tell you. Cloud Computing can offer real benefits to the right business, but there are also downsides that need to be considered in order that informed decisions can be made.

Previously we highlighted the cost implications and business continuity issues of Cloud Computing, in this issue we ask:-

Does the Cloud make your data more secure or less?
It is often stated that data is more secure when held in the cloud. Whilst it is true that reputable cloud providers should use highly qualified security specialists, there is no reason to think these people can keep data safer than similarly qualified staff at reputable “traditional” network support companies.

The issue for regulated businesses is that storing your data in the cloud means that you have to be certain that the cloud provider is holding the data in a way that conforms to your regulatory requirements. Regardless of where the data is stored, you are ultimately responsible for its safety. It is therefore imperative that the provider accepts full liability for the security of your data. This must be explicitly stated in the contract between yourself and the provider.

More worryingly, it seems that foreign governments can access data held in the Cloud using their anti-terrorist legislation. Whilst it is still being fought over in the American courts, it appears that the American Government can use the provisions of the Patriot Act and other legislation, to access the email data of someone who isn’t an American citizen, held outside America (Dublin in this case), to investigate a narcotics crime. See the Computer Weekly article.

Essentially, this seems to be saying that if the data is accessible from America (i.e. in the Cloud), then the Amercian Government can force the cloud provider to hand over the data. Whether the cloud provider needs to have a presence in the USA for the Patriot Act to apply, is unclear.

In essence, we would advise that you chose your Cloud provider very carefully and ensure your contract is watertight. Just how businesses can protect data stored in the cloud from foreign governments is currently “uncertain”.

Are telephone numbers important?

It is surprising how many people don’t understand the difference that the first two digits of a telephone number make to both the caller and the business being called. When someone dials a number, both the caller and the receiver have two concerns – will the call get through and how much will it cost me. Understanding the UK numbering scheme tells you all you need to know (almost).

Geographic numbers (those beginning 01 and 02) are delivered to physical addresses. These numbers are usually included in call packages so whilst not actually free, they are usually considered to be so for both the caller and the recipient. However, given that the call will terminate on a business’s PABX, if either the system or the telephone line to it has a fault, the call will not get through. More recently SIP has allowed these numbers to be treated differently. There is more on this later.

Personal numbers, beginning 07, for mobiles, pagers etc. may or may not be included in call packages, so they may actually cost the caller. As they terminate on a specific device, if that device develops a fault, the call will not get through.

Non-geographic numbers (beginning 08) do not directly terminate at a physical address so they can be manipulated by the telephone network. These are usually not included in call packages so would be considered costly numbers to call, even the “freephone” numbers 0800 and 0808 can be very expensive to call from mobiles. However, because the call path can be manipulated by the network, they give businesses additional features such as disaster recovery capabilities. Calls can be easily directed to other locations should there be a hardware failure at the primary destination. As a result of the extra capabilities of these numbers, the recipients may also be charged for incoming calls. Equally call costs could be higher with some non-geographic numbers allowing them to generate revenue for the recipient.

Premium rate numbers (beginning 09) should be avoided wherever possible because they can cost in excess of £2.50 per minute.

03 numbers were introduced to allow call paths to be handled in the same way as 08 numbers, but the calls would be included in calling packages, making the calls “free” to the caller. However, the recipient would usually pay to receive calls to 03 numbers.

Earlier we noted that SIP had changed the way geographic numbers are handled. In many ways SIP can significantly simplify things. With SIP you can get the best of both worlds. 01 and 02 numbers can be ported to the SIP network, this means that the recipient can benefit from the Disaster Recovery and other features of 08 numbers as well as allowing the caller to use their included minutes, hence making the calls “free”. Additionally, as SIP lines and number rentals are typically around 50% cheaper than standard fixed lines, the business can actually save money by using SIP numbers.

Whilst there are certainly technical caveats (please see our July Newsletter) we would always advise businesses to at least consider SIP for part of their line and number provision.

For more information, or how we can help with your Telephony requirements, please see our website.

And finally...

Did you know that there are blocks of telephone numbers that are reserved for film/TV/Radio use? In countries that use the North American Numbering Plan (USA, Canada etc), most of the area code 555 is reserved for these purposes. In the UK, local numbers starting 496 are fictitious e.g. 0161 496 1234, as is the area code 01632. Just for that added bit of realism, Weatherfield, the Manchester suburb which is home to Coronation Street, actually has its own number range outside these reservations, it is 0161 715 xxxx.

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