Is a VoIP Phone System Hackable?

Posted on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 08:00 AM by Carlos Lahrssen

VoIP Phone SystemData security is one of the biggest IT challenges faced by businesses around the globe. As more devices join the cloud and network connections expand to a wide web of devices, it becomes increasingly difficult to truly protect telecommunications from malicious activity.

To answer this article’s big question, yes, Voice Over IP (VoIP) phone systems are hackable. However, there are measures you can take to improve the security of your organization’s VoIP system and minimize that risk. In this blog, we highlight how hackers can tap into VoIP phone system connections, and what you should do to protect your business from phone system hacking.

How Hackers Access VoIP Systems

One of the most common ways hackers infiltrate VoIP systems is by leveraging remote access capabilities. Can you connect to your company’s phone system from home, or in a public place over open connection? This convenience comes at a price: far increased hacking risk.

If you can dial in to work and check your system’s voicemail inbox, you’re susceptible to remote voicemail hacking. Once the voicemail password is identified by the hacker, they can use your voicemail system to make calls from within the system - ultimately costing you and your business money for services you didn’t even use. When voicemail systems are installed, default passwords are usually kept to make necessary maintenance easy on your IT department (or outside telecommunications service). When a hacker finds this information, it means open season on your voicemail.

When you encounter issues with your VoIP phone systems, there are a few ways you can go about having them resolved. One is calling in your IT people or a repair service to physically visit your office and fix the issue; the other is enabling remote programming capabilities, which allow the professionals to access and reprogram your system remotely. Again, convenience comes at a hefty price in terms of security.

If an IT person given access to and can reprogram your phone system, they can do virtually anything to change it. While this includes resolving a given issue, it also includes modifying phone lines, voicemail settings and forwarding capabilities.

For professional purposes, remote access and capabilities can be an invaluable asset; however, it’s these features that also put VoIP phone systems at risk. Once inside your system, there’s no telling what information can be stolen, and what settings or services can be used without your consent.

Upgrade Your System to Keep Hackers Out

If you’re like many other professionals in organizations with VoIP systems, there’s a good chance you don’t think about your phone system on a day-to-day basis. In fact, you probably haven’t considered upgrading the system since the day that system was installed. Not upgrading your VoIP system as new security features are introduced is the same as turning a blind eye to hacking vulnerability.

Additionally, consider configuring user profiles, dial plans and encryption services to not only keep hackers out, but to also protect the information that flows through your VoIP system. You can better protect your business’s VoIP system, and all of its users, by:

  • Setting up user profiles and restricting certain calls by device, location, time or user

  • Installing a firewall to allow only authorized system use and monitor unusual activity

  • Set new, complex passwords for your voicemail systems

  • Encrypt data by user, device and segment to protect sensitive information

  • Teach those in your organization best practices for VoIP security, and IT security in general. Information and prevention are key to VoIP system security.

For more tips, check out our guide on setting up a VoIP system.

Despite new services and digital barriers organizations use to keep hackers at bay, hackers can, and often do, find a way to achieve whatever it is that they’re planning. There is no 100% guaranteed protection when it comes to information transmitted over the Internet - This applies to everything from iPads to VoIP phone systems. By following the tips presented in this article, you can help protect your VoIP system, its use and the sensitive information that it transmits on a daily basis.

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Topics: business phone systems, voip, VoIP security

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About the Author

Carlos Lahrssen
Carlos Lahrssen
Carlos Lahrssen is president and CEO of nexogy, as well as founder, president and CEO of LD Telecommunications, Inc., nexogy’s parent company. Lahrssen is an industry fan, follower and advocate — stay...read more