As modern businesses adopt new ways of communicating internally and with customers, IT and phone security is more important an issue today than ever before. Cloud-based technologies are susceptible to so much more than the phone line phreaking of the 1980s - entire communications networks are now hosted online, which poses unique and very real security concerns.
Just how safe are VoIP phone systems for growing businesses? As VoIP phone systems operate entirely over the Internet, it could be argued that these systems are even less secure than standard phone lines. Ultimately, the security of a VoIP phone line depends on the protective measures a business has in place to protect its information, users and customers.
In this blog, we discuss how secure VoIP phone systems truly are, and things you can do to ensure the most security possible for your company’s information.
VoIP Security Risks and Their Sources
Generally, the security risks associated with VoIP phone systems are actually network security risks, and not confined solely to VoIP. The problems don’t stem from the phones themselves, but rather the networks on which they operate. Open networks, poor firewall settings and unencrypted wireless connections all put VoIP phone systems - and the information they transmit - at risk.
One of the biggest risks in VoIP security is malicious interception of audio streams in the form of packets (the file compression VoIP uses to digitize audio and transmit it over your organization’s Internet). If you don’t have the right security protocols in place for your VoIP network (and Internet in general), hackers can tap into your VoIP voice data with simple software tools available for free online; software that mines your Internet transmissions for voice packet data and rearranges that data as audio files on their own devices.
VoIP phone networks are also susceptible to distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks, in which networks are flooded and essentially shut down with phony requests. These requests jam networks and negate service for the actual users - your team and your customers. In all, however, this is a standard Internet security risk and not something restricted to VoIP. Other types of security risks for VoIP include spoofing, toll fraud, phishing and service fraud.
What You Can Do
Despite the VoIP phone systems risks highlighted in this article, there are a number of steps and best practices you can implement to maximize the security of your systems. If your organization currently uses or is planning to use VoIP systems, consider the following to ensure your information, users and customers are protected:
If your business’s Internet is firewall-protected, make sure the firewall settings include VoIP system protection. VoIP-aware firewalls should be installed before the phone system itself.
Regularly backup your VoIP servers or find a service provider that includes disaster protection in their offerings.
If members of your organization connect or plan to connect personal devices (smartphones) to your VoIP network, have the proper authentication and encryption in place to protect wireless data.
Make sure all wireless networks are supported by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) password security, as well as WPA-2 encryption.
Any technology that connects to and requires the Internet for its core functions is at risk for network security breaches - this applies to VoIP phone systems just as it does for the computers your organization uses. However, there are steps you can (and should) take to limit these risks and keep your business protected online.