Business VoIP Featured Article

Business VoIP Systems Carry Specific Risks that Targeted Solutions Address

April 21, 2016

By Laura Stotler, Business VoIP Contributing Editor

Increasingly, organizations of all sizes are turning to VoIP to meet their communication needs. The benefits of VoIP in the business world are clear and numerous, including cost savings, scalability and a host of value-added features and services. But VoIP can also open up networks to hackers, cyber attacks and other threats, and businesses that fail to protect themselves with proper security initiatives are vulnerable.

Thankfully, the VoIP community at large has been taking steps to combat attacks and fraud. With the VoIP services market expected to reach $136 billion in revenues by 2020, according to Broadview Networks, massive revenues are at stake. Spreading awareness about risks and threats among executives and workers alike can go a long way toward mitigating attacks and issues, and companies are just now beginning to understand the various security risks posed by VoIP communication systems and services.

The Voice over IP Security Alliance (VOIPSA) groups threats into six distinct categories. Social threats are defined as those that misrepresent identity, authority, rights or content. Eavesdropping enables malicious users to monitor communications between two or more VoIP end points, while interception and modification threats enable malicious users to gain full access to the communication signal between two or more parties. Service abuse is perhaps one of the most common types of threats, encompassing behavior like Premium Rate Service (PRS) fraud. And intentional interruption of service includes DoS attacks and other methods of exhausting resources. The final category represents additional interruptions of service like power loss and other physical threats.

A recent ITProPortal article examines the scope of VoIP security threats as well as several measures being implemented to protect businesses. In terms of business risk and damage, financial loss is probably one of the greatest hits that can be incurred. Not only will an attack cause financial loss due to business disruption, but attackers can also hijack VoIP systems to make long distance and premium rate calls, translating to further costs.

Denial of service is another issue with a VoIP attack, potentially causing system-wide outages that can impact overall availability and business operations. And data breaches are another serious risk, compromising billing, administration and CRM records containing potentially confidential and damaging information.

Thankfully there a few simple steps businesses can take to protect their VoIP communications systems. Strong passwords are a good first line of defense, and organizations can also spread awareness to employees about not sharing passwords via email or VoIP networks. Having a VoIP-ready firewall is also important as IP telephony systems have specific risks and vulnerabilities that these types of firewalls address and protect.

Encryption tools are another important way to address VoIP security, protecting users and organizations from eavesdropping and other malicious activity. And a VPN can be used in tandem with VoIP networks to encrypt all data being transferred across the network. Finally, 24/7 monitoring via a managed IT service can be a huge asset for protecting networks both during work hours as well as through off hours and downtime.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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