VoIP Secure

Is VOIP Secure?

Several companies have resisted switching from old phone systems to VoIP, mainly due to perceived security risks. Yet, despite the apprehension of some companies to accept the Cloud as a hub of activity, VoIP has definite and proven benefits.

VoIP vs. traditional phone systems

Businesses generally use one of two phone technologies and systems, either voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) or landlines also referred to as public switched telephone network (PSTN). Traditional landlines use copper wires, while VoIP uses an Internet connection to transmit voice as data. VoIP converts audio signals to digital data, and that data is then sent over the Internet. VoIP business phone systems normally have more features, better functionality, and can be implemented at a lower cost. 

You can make and receive business calls with a  VoIP phone, a cell phone, or a landline using VoIP. This means that it works almost identically to a traditional phone system although it runs on a different network. It is important to consider that a large chunk of the voice calls made over what you think is the traditional phone network is in fact carried over the Internet, at least part of the way. This is because VoIP often serves as a connecting backbone between networks.

Key differences between a VoIP platform and a traditional landline service include lower costs and services that allow you to use your mobile phone as an extension of your office phone to literally anywhere you are located. VoIP platforms also provide integrated services such as business software like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, advanced call routing and voicemail to email.

The most substantial technical advantage of VoIP services is their scalability. Landline phone systems are limited in terms of the number of lines that can be connected. Adding more lines would mean upgrading hardware and, in contrast, VoIP systems can support an unlimited number of lines (depending on the strength of your connection).

How to secure VoIP

VoIP is a very secure form of telephony, and security risks can always be mitigated through several measures businesses can take to make it even more safe and effective. Online security statistics indicate that businesses cut down on their online activities mainly due to their fear of security breaches and privacy. Business leaders are also concerned about the reliability of VoIP.

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Other concerns include hacking and ransomware and service disruptions due to a Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and the recording of conversations without the user’s knowledge. This begs the question of whether PSTN is more secure than VoIP. The answer is: Not necessarily.

PSTN relies on analogue signals and tapping into the wires carrying the signal is as risky if not riskier. Although hacking such a signal requires physical effort and special equipment, one of the only ways to mitigate this risk is by securing your building and blocking physical access to equipment. With encryption, VoIP can mitigate risk even more effectively than with PSTN.

How to Secure VoIP

The security of a VoIP system can be as secure as that of PSTN. Two crucial aspects are important: Be aware of the security protocols your VoIP provider has in place. Some VoIP applications may have no security hurdles, thereby making data vulnerable. Secondly, secure your own network and ensure that the secured VoIP system you choose relies on the security of the networks that carry the VoIP traffic.

VoIP Providers

As with any service provision, ensure that the provider of your choice meets your security requirements in terms of your industry and your company’s specific needs. Ask your provider for their accreditations, if they use third party tools or software and whether these are secure? Consider your industry’s standards and regulations and whether they are compliant with important laws and regulatory bodies.

End-to-End Encryption

An unencrypted Internet network is prone to hacker snooping and it is essential that your own internal networks are adequately secure to avoid any possible VoIP risks, Encryption that runs end-to-end is therefore important.

Wi-Fi Encryption

Wi-Fi is susceptible to snooping and data sent over your internal office Wi-Fi should be encrypted. VoIP calls made over unencrypted Wi-Fi can leave key data points exposed.

User Security

Ensure user security to keep VoIP traffic from being compromised by enforcing strong password rules for your VoIP sessions. Also, make sure default passwords are changed and set rules for all passwords. It is advisable that passwords are changed regularly.

Firmware on VoIP phones

All software-driven devices are prone to intrusion attempts making it vital to update the firmware on your VoIP handsets. Hackers capitalise on unintended vulnerabilities only discovered upon the release of products.

Call and Access Logs

Regularly check your VoIP logs to identify any intrusions that otherwise may remain undetected. Logs reports reveal repeated failed attempts to access your VoIP service. You can also set up automatic alerts. For example, set up an alert for usage above a certain threshold. That way, you will be alerted when a certain number is making excess calls.

Summary

In the final analysis, no phone call is totally secure. The best solutions are to keep your security software up-to-date, scan weekly with another security program, avoid suspicious websites, and generally practice safe computing.

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