Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) serves all the same functions that traditional phone systems offer, often at a fraction of the price. These cost savings are especially notable when implemented at scale, and this has made VoIP especially popular for businesses.
However, the fundamental difference between how VoIP and traditional phone systems operate means that VoIP is subject to an entirely different set of concerns, particularly with regard to security. Given that VoIP operates over the internet, it’s subject to a lot of vulnerabilities. While VoIP is no less secure than traditional systems when the proper steps are taken, it’s critical that VoIP users be aware of these vulnerabilities and build their practices around them.
Below is a list of factors to keep in mind when utilizing VoIP.
Different is not worse
The first thing to keep in mind is the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is just as susceptible to security breaches as VoIP systems. Online attacks may be more widely reported, but breaching the privacy of PSTN is actually possible wherever access to the physical wiring used for it is possible. In fact, such phone hacking, or “phreaking,” was commonplace from the ‘70s through to the ‘90s, though phone companies took measures to prevent such attacks.
While VoIP operates over the internet, VoIP providers handle all VoIP traffic and take measures to maintain and protect the infrastructure behind it in the same way phone companies did for PSTN. In many ways, the firewalls and security protocols VoIP providers place around the VoIP infrastructure make it even more secure than PSTN. What this means, however, is that the focus of individual IT teams should be on ensuring that the network through which VoIP services are accessed is kept secure.
Choosing the right provider
Before getting to the responsibilities of IT teams, though, businesses must focus on finding a reliable provider. Given that VoIP providers themselves facilitate security maintenance, going through a set of basic checks before deciding to contract their services can go a long way toward ensuring smooth operations. Aspects to look into include the provider’s accreditations, whether they use third-party tools and software, their methods and policies for training staff, and their response approach to incidents.
Another key point of focus is call encryption. When data is unencrypted, it’s vulnerable to exploitation by anyone who gets their hands on it. Encryption, on the other hand, means that even if the data transmission is recorded, the perpetrator won’t be able to make sense of it. It’s thus important that data transmitted over VoIP is encrypted on every possible layer or stage of the process, from the caller to the recipient.
Strong password policies
As with any system connected to the internet that is accessed by multiple users, strong password policies are crucial for securing VoIP networks. This includes setting longer passwords with a mix of alphanumeric characters and making sure network passwords are updated at least twice a year.
Virtual private networks (VPNs)
A VPN can be an invaluable tool for remote workers. VPNs encrypt all traffic, regardless of the location or network from which they’re coming are not likely to impact call quality.
Operating system updates
Regular updates to the operating systems of users’ devices are a key component of good security practice, and VoIP is no different. These updates prevent applications, such as VoIP, from being exploited, and guard against malicious software that could infiltrate the core system.
Enforce usage monitoring
Having a good understanding of the business and its staff’s use for VoIP can help identify suspicious behavior. Thus, reviewing call logs to establish a benchmark on call volumes and timing can be very helpful. A dashboard with a call analytics feature can assist in this task.
The VoIP system can also be set up to block restricted/private numbers, so that all callers to the system can be verified if needed. Likewise, the ability to make and receive international calls can be restricted to only those members of staff who need it as part of their job. Many malicious parties can be blocked in this way.
VoIP can be extremely useful, but the connectivity it grants can be a liability if not managed properly. Contact Online Computers now to get on top of all the best VoIP practices.