Your power bill invoices are due every month, and many businesses make the mistake of believing they are being billed correctly. Some organizations, in fact, have an account management staff in place to monitor and record their invoices each month. This offers firms the false sense of safety that their invoices are being inspected every month to guarantee they are proper.
A utility audit is a thorough inspection of all-electric, gas, water, and sewage accounts. The audit identifies billing errors and assesses the effectiveness of rate plans. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals are unaware that a utility and telecom audit is even a possibility. So, today, we’ll go over what a utility audit is and how it might benefit you.
What is the Purpose of a Utility Audit?
A thorough bill audit entails digging deeper into your utility accounts to ensure that the utility providers are charging you at the lowest feasible rate.
The purpose of an audit is to guarantee that your accounts are at the most advantageous rates depending on your:
- Load distribution graph
- Usage time
- Business type
However, the focus should not be solely on whether your accounts are on the best rates, but also on things like numerous added charges and riders linked with the electric bills.
The frequently overlooked unnecessary costs that lead to higher expenses that can at times last for multiple monthly invoices being another key factor.
What Does a Utility Audit Include?
A utilities and telecom audit consists of three parts:
Research – We review all service agreements and your billing history to gain a comprehensive picture of not just what you’re now paying for but also what your genuine service needs are.
Review – We undertake a remote evaluation of all elements of your utilities and telecommunications procedures. We interact with site managers to resolve service issues, and we contact your service providers if there appear to be billing problems.
Recommendation – We provide your customized solutions after assessing your services. We may be able to bargain your contracts or offer other, less costly service providers. We will execute the ideas on your behalf only after you have given us your complete permission.
This approach is designed to identify every possible savings opportunity accessible to you to cut and remove costly or excessive utility and telecom services.
There are hundreds of utility audits out there, but we all have the same goal: to save our clients money on utility and telecom costs. Specific methods may change from auditor to auditor; therefore, the audit process described below may not accurately represent the methodology of every auditor.
How Can Applied Utility Auditors Help Your Business?
If you are looking for a utility audit in New Jersey, we are the right choice for you.
We begin our utility audit procedure by gathering all of the papers required to examine your utilities. First, we require a year’s worth of utility bills, including electric, gas, water, and sewage. It may feel like a long time, but it is vital. Looking at the last 12 months of data provides us with the background we need to determine your current bench line expenses.
We may usually begin with only the most recent invoice copy for each account and then obtain previous invoice copies from your utility vendor’s online billing site. Most businesses can provide us with invoices or log-in credentials within a few hours.
Once we have all of the relevant documents, we compare the energy use figure to the current meter reading. If there is a mismatch between these figures, it would be the first sign that anything is wrong. We seek billing mistakes. Looking into the last year’s spending trends reveals a lot more about price variation.
After reviewing the documents, we may take a step back and assess rate structures, patterns, and tax exemptions. Many businesses have unproductive rate structures, and you may be unaware that alternative rate structures are accessible to you. Therefore, we examine all options available to you to help you stop overspending.
Our utility audits identify the areas where you’re overpaying and the remedies you’ll need to cut back. In addition, we give you extra savings potential after reviewing all of your utility and telephone bills.
This is a follow up letter from our channel partner AT&T to one of our CPA clients in N.J.
AT&T is one of our seventy-five partners providing Cyber security, Cloud, IT, VoIP, bandwidth and more to CPA’s, professionals and businesses in the USA.
This is just one example of what we provide, with our 35 years of consulting services, as channel partners and agents with our vendors. There is never a fee to you the end user.
Great speaking with you. We have an exceptionally large portfolio of cybersecurity services. Attached are a few product briefs. I think we have an opportunity to start with some quick value with our consulting services, then grow as we continue to partner with some of our other solutions.
The below services are the ones we discussed at length, they will skyrocket your visibility and ongoing security maturity and at a great price point.
Please let me know if you have any questions and how you would like to carry this conversation forward.
AT&T Managed service powered by Qualys (MVP-Qualys): 500 assets $10,000 annual.
Unlimited Vulnerability / CIS Compliance Scanning, Continuous Monitoring, Threat Protection, Unlimited Passive / Active Scan Engines, Unlimited Host Agents, Unlimited PCI-ASV Scans
Qualys (MVP-Qualys) Patch Management Add-On: 300 assets $4,800 annual.
Patch Management – This is an optional add-on to the vulnerability scanning component above and leverages the host agents to provide patching on Windows assets
External Penetration Testing: <32 IPs $4,500 NRC, optional retest $2,000
Penetration testing seeks to exploit the vulnerabilities identified to gain access to critical systems, sensitive information, or a specified trophy. This assessment will be conducted from an external perspective.
Internal Penetration Testing: <32 IPs $5,500 NRC, optional retest $2,000
Penetration testing seeks to exploit the vulnerabilities identified to gain access to critical systems, sensitive information, or a specified trophy. This assessment will be conducted from an internal persp
Will your information be safe with our vendors?
Several of our 100+ vendors/carriers offer cloud-based services such as VoIP telecom and TEAMS from Microsoft and Cisco. Several of these top-level vendors announced that they also earned the System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type II certification that covers all their facilities, business processes, and cloud services. The SOC 2 Type II audit and certification, conducted by The Moore Group, LLC, an independent CPA firm, confirms that this vendor and others, meet the strict information security and privacy standards for the handling of highly sensitive customer data established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Two of our vendors Evolveip and Ancero just announced they are once again certified. Call us for more information 888.208.0020 or email [email-subscribers-form id=”2″]
Ancero is proud to announce the renewal of the System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type II certification, which applies to all Ancero facilities, business processes, and cloud services. SOC 2 Type II certification validates Ancero’s compliance with strict data security and privacy standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). SOC […]
The post Why Ancero’s SOC 2 Type II Certification Has Never Been More Important appeared first on Ancero.
Cyber Security is critical in the healthcare sector. Almost half of all data breaches in hospitals and the wider healthcare sector are due to ransomware attacks, according to new research. Ransomware gangs are increasingly adding an extra layer of extortion to attacks by not only encrypting networks and demanding hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in Bitcoin to restore them but also stealing sensitive information and threatening to publish it if the ransom isn’t paid.
Double Extortion in Cyber Security
This double extortion technique is intended as extra leverage to force victims of ransomware attacks to give in and pay the ransom rather than taking the time to restore the network themselves. For healthcare, the prospect of data being leaked on the internet is particularly disturbing as it can involve sensitive private medical data alongside other forms of identifiable personal information of patients.
SEE Cybersecurity: Let’s get tactical (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)
Some organizations will, therefore, opt to pay the ransom to prevent this from happening while others will not give in to extortion demands. As a result, ransomware is now responsible for 46% of healthcare data breaches, according to an analysis by cybersecurity researchers at Tenable. More than 35% of all breaches are linked to ransomware attacks, resulting in an often-tremendous financial cost.
One of the key methods for ransomware gangs gaining access to hospital networks is via a pair of VPN vulnerabilities found in the Citrix ADC controller, affecting Gateway hosts (CVE-2019-19781) and Pulse Connect Secure (CVE-2019-11510).
Both vulnerabilities had received security patches to stop hackers from exploiting them by the beginning of 2020, but despite this, large numbers of organizations have yet to apply the update.
That is allowed ransomware groups – and even nation-state-linked hacking operations – to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities to gain a foothold on networks and they will continue to do so if networks have not received the required security patches.
“As the attack surface expands, vulnerability management has a central role to play in modern cybersecurity strategies. Unpatched vulnerabilities leave sensitive data and critical business systems exposed, and represent lucrative opportunities for ransomware actors,” said Renaud Deraison, co-founder and chief technology officer at Tenable.
SEE: Cybersecurity: This ‘costly and destructive’ malware is the biggest threat to your network
The key way to protect networks falling victim to ransomware and other cyberattacks is to apply patches when they’re released, particularly those designed to fix critical vulnerabilities. And if there’s applications that your organization uses that no longer receives security updates, researchers recommend replacing this software with an alternative that is still supported.
“If the software solutions used by your organization are no longer receiving security updates, upgrading to one with an active support contract is vital,” the report says.
“It is imperative that organizations identify assets within their environments that are vulnerable to months- and years-old flaws and apply relevant patches immediately,” it said.
MORE ON CYBERSECURITY
• These software bugs are years old. But businesses still are not patching them
• How ransomware attackers are doubling their extortion tactics TechRepublic
• Ransomware vs WFH: How remote working is making cyberattacks easier to pull off
• Ransomware attacks on hospitals could soon surge, FBI warns CNET.
• Ransomware: Attacks could be about to get even more dangerous and disruptive
MORE ON PRIVACY
• Microsoft to apply California’s privacy law for all US users
• Mind-reading technology: The security and privacy threats ahead
• How to replace each Google service with a more privacy-friendly alternative
• Cybersecurity 101: Protect your privacy from hackers, spies, and the government
This is excerpted from ZDNet email@example.com and WWW.acginfo.biz
With over 30 years of telecom and IT experience we have several vendors that can help with solutions to cybersecurity call Applied Consulting group @ 888.208.0020
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
Do you understand VOiP 911’s inherent risks?
911 is the U.S. emergency services number; it’s the equivalent of the European Union’s 112. Enhanced 911, or E911, is a potentially lifesaving GPS-enabled smartphone feature that automatically shares a caller’s location with emergency personnel. But if you’re using VoIP technology, calling for emergency help isn’t as cut and dried. Here’s what you need to know about VoIP and 911.
If you’re traveling, be sure to check the emergency services number for the country you’re visiting. 911 call on a cellphone Interconnected VoIP vs. Non-Interconnected VoIP
Whether or not you have access to 911 depends on if your VoIP service is interconnected or non-interconnected.
Non-interconnected VoIP, also known as “peer-to-peer” VoIP, lets people call others using the same VoIP app. When you talk to a friend via Xbox Live or another gaming system, for example, you’re using non-interconnected VoIP. You wouldn’t be able to call the friend’s smartphone or landline phone.
Interconnected VOiP services use the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to make and receive calls to and from smartphones and landlines. Among other features, interconnected VoIP services provide 911 functionality.
How Does Interconnected VoIP Handle 911?
The FCC requires interconnected VoIP services to offer 911 as a standard feature and not let users opt-out. These services have to comply with E911 standards, which means they must obtain and transmit their customers’ physical locations and callback numbers whenever possible to the emergency services teams at the nearest 911 call center.
Because users can make VoIP calls wherever they can find an internet connection, the 911 call center can’t know exactly where they are unless they’ve registered their VoIP device to a specific physical location. This means it’s up to the user to register their physical address with their VoIP service provider and notify and update their address with the provider if they move.
Service providers are supposed to make this an intuitive process, but it’s still the user’s responsibility to keep the system updated.
Inherent VoIP 911 Limitations
Even with the FCC’s directives and VoIP services’ cooperation and best intentions, there can be problems accessing 911 via VoIP:
911 calls via VoIP may not work if there’s a power outage, or the call may drop if there’s an internet outage.
If a user doesn’t update their physical location with their VoIP provider, 911 emergency teams won’t be able to find them.
There may be a problem automatically transmitting a caller’s physical location to the emergency responders, even if the caller is able to reach the 911 call center.
A VoIP 911 call may go to an unstaffed call center administrative line, or be routed to a call center in the wrong location.
The FCC requires VoIP service providers to explain these potential VoIP 911 limitations and problems to their customers, so they’re aware of possible risks. Users must acknowledge that they understand and accept these risks.
How Do Top VoIP Providers Handle 911?
Each VoIP service provider does its best to properly handle 911 services for its customers. Here’s a look at what some top providers say about 911 calls.
Vonage stresses the importance of customers maintaining an accurate physical address so that 911 services can reach them. You’ll need to activate a physical 911 address, and the company makes it easy to update this address via your Vonage account. Dial 933 from your Vonage phone to check your 911 activation status at any time.
The scope of Vonage’s 911 services differ depending on your location and whether you’re using Vonage on a mobile phone or landline. Some customers will receive E911 functionality, while others will be able to access only basic 911 and must be prepared to share their address and contact information with the call center.
Like Vonage, RingCentral offers basic or E911 services, depending on your location and device. You’ll need to register your physical location with RingCentral and notify the company if you move. If you use the RingCentral app to place a 911 call, your wireless provider will handle the call if service is available.
Line2 requires users to add their physical address to their Line2 account via a web browser or its iOS or Android apps.
Intermedia also offers basic and enhanced 911 services, but stresses that it’s the user’s responsibility to keep the company apprised of an accurate and updated physical location. Intermedia warns users that factors outside of its control, such as network congestion or hardware and software problems, may limit the call’s effectiveness.
The Bottom Line
While VoIP 911 functionality has greatly improved since the early 2000s, users should understand that the process has inherent limitations. If you’re primarily using a VoIP service for most of your calls but are concerned about the potential risks of VoIP 911, consider keeping a landline or mobile phone handy.
For more direct help during an emergency, keep the phone numbers for your local public safety dispatcher or police station prominently handy.
To learn more about VOIP options, email us here:
Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash
Knowb4 can help and we can test your system each month or hao often you would like. 877 208 0021
The cost per user varies from about $2.45 per month or $29.50 per year, down to $1.20 or $14.50 per year,for a 1-year agreement.
Pricing is based on number of users and length of term, either 1- or 3-year.