VoIP has revolutionized business communications across all industries. Big enterprises and government agencies as well as small and medium businesses use the telephone for the exchange of important, often sensitive information.
In a highly competitive landscape, security of communications is a legitimate concern for every business. Spying by competitors on closely guarded trade secrets is a clear and present danger. Listening on phone calls, hacking emails, intercepting fax and text messages, or gaining unauthorized access to company communications systems are just a few security risks. They not only result in toll fraud and unauthorized phone charges that add to costs but can also compromise proprietary business information.
Hosted private branch exchange (PBX) phone systems are popular choices of small and medium businesses. Whether hosted on the Cloud or by managed services providers, PBX is not exempt from security risks. Most VoIP solutions allow the convergence of voice and data for a more unified communications network. As such, unauthorized access, negligence, or deliberate phone hacking may lead to the unwanted exposure of enterprise data.
Securing business use of VoIP is critical for every business enterprise. Fortunately, hosted VoIP technologies offer best practices intended to protect PBX phone systems from infiltration. These also are packaged as UCaaS–unified communications as a service.
Voice and Data Encryption
Since voice and data are transmitted over the Internet, encrypting data before transmission ensures the integrity of the data. Many hosted VoIP service providers and vendors provide standards-based solutions as well as special algorithms for safe data encryption that make it difficult for hackers to intercept transmission or access the system.
Firewalls and Other Security Tools
Firewalls provide a first line of defense for the security of unified communications deployment. They help protect and control inbound and outbound traffic for phone calls, emails, faxes, messaging systems, the underlying infrastructure, and other communications components from malicious attacks coming from within or outside the organization. While they come in hardware or software form, firewalls and other security tools should be properly configured by experts in order to be effective.
Viruses are real computer threats that can significantly damage entire computer systems and effectively disrupt business. They can slow down processing speeds, delete critical data, and may even cause irreparable physical damage to a communications infrastructure. Luckily, myriads of effective anti-virus software solutions are available in the market.
Administrators of hosted PBX networks, their alternates, and other authorized officers should have secure passwords to protect their servers. Every desktop with a softphone should likewise be protected by a strong password and default passwords for every function need to be changed regularly.
A hardened communications system reduces the area of vulnerability. More functions, especially if unnecessary, mean more available points of attack. While a unified communications network aims to enhance interconnectivity within an organization, it is good practice to remove irrelevant software, services, usernames, and logins.
There is no excuse for negligence. The slightest sign of irregular activity within the system should never be ignored. Real-time monitoring of voice and data traffic and reviewing of detailed reports will help administrators and IT officers detect any potential threats early on and find solutions to prevent them.
When selecting a hosted PBX system or other hosted VoIP services, IT decision makers need to choose a system that is consistent with the company’s main communications data and application platform for overall security. It is equally important that the vendor or service provider is trusted, issues security updates regularly, offers technical support day and night, and is committed to providing a fail-proof communications system.