Since the emergence of voice communication over the Internet, security has been a growing concern. As more and more companies want to integrate their office phone systems and communication servers with other business applications and to leverage SIP Trunking and VoIP Phones for flexible and efficient communication, it is essential to address security considerations as part of every solution design.
Like any device connected to the internet, your VoIP Phone System can fall victim to cybercriminals. Cybercriminals are not just looking to steal valuable information about your company, customers, bank information, credit cards, etc. that can be used to commit fraud or extract a ransom (ransomware). VoIP Phone itself is an attractive target for hackers since gaining control of a phone system enables them to make money at your expense by dumping fraudulent long-distance traffic on your system or lines. For a small business, the cost of recovering from financial fraud or misuse can be as extreme as putting it out of business.
In this article, we will explore the best tips to secure your VoIP phone system and safeguard your business against potential threats. So, let’s dive in and discover the peace of mind that comes with a secure and reliable VoIP network.
What is a VoIP Phone System?
A VoIP phone system is a technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet instead of using traditional telephone lines. It converts voice signals into digital packets that are transmitted across the internet, allowing for more flexibility and cost savings compared to traditional phone systems.
Why is Security Important for VoIP Phone Systems?
Securing your VoIP phone system is essential for several reasons:
- Protecting Sensitive Data: VoIP systems often transmit sensitive information, such as customer data and business strategies. Without proper security measures in place, this information can be intercepted or accessed by unauthorized individuals, leading to potential data breaches and financial losses.
- Preventing Service Disruptions: VoIP phone systems rely on internet connectivity to function. Without adequate security, cybercriminals can launch attacks that disrupt your system, leading to downtime and lost productivity.
- Maintaining Business Reputation: A security breach can damage your business’s reputation and erode customer trust. Implementing robust security measures demonstrates your commitment to protecting customer data and can enhance your reputation as a trusted and reliable business.
VoIP vs. Traditional Phone System Comparison
Many businesses are transitioning from traditional phone systems to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, which offer numerous benefits such as cost savings, flexibility, and scalability.
However, like any technology, VoIP systems are not without their security risks.
How does the VoIP system work?
A VoIP system works by converting voice signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. Instead of using traditional phone lines, VoIP systems use internet connections to make and receive calls. This allows for more flexibility and cost savings, as businesses can make calls from anywhere with an internet connection.
However, because VoIP systems rely on the Internet, they are susceptible to security risks such as hacking, eavesdropping, and unauthorized access. It is important for businesses to take steps to secure their VoIP systems and protect their sensitive information.
First, let’s understand the key differences between VoIP and traditional phone systems. Traditional phone systems rely on dedicated copper wires or fiber optic cables to transmit voice signals.
These systems are typically expensive to install and maintain, and they offer limited features and scalability. On the other hand, VoIP systems use the internet to transmit voice signals, allowing for greater flexibility, scalability, and cost savings.
VoIP also offers advanced features such as call forwarding, voicemail-to-email transcription, and video conferencing, which can greatly enhance communication within the organization.
Traditional phone system is limited in terms of features and flexibility, and it can be costly to make changes or add new lines. In contrast, VoIP systems are highly adaptable and can easily be scaled up or down based on the needs of the business.
Despite the numerous advantages of VoIP, it is important to be aware of the potential security risks associated with this technology. VoIP calls and data are transmitted over the internet, making them susceptible to interception and unauthorized access. Hackers can potentially eavesdrop on conversations, steal sensitive information, or even disrupt the entire system.
How does the Traditional Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) work?
The Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) worked by using dedicated copper wires or fiber optic cables to transmit voice signals. These signals were converted into electrical pulses that traveled along the wires to reach the recipient’s phone.
POTS systems were reliable but limited in terms of features and scalability. They required physical connections and were expensive to install and maintain. In this phone system, the hackers can easily intercept calls as they are connected using audio signals.
Protecting your Business VoIP Phone System from Cyber Frauds
RingOffice takes a proactive approach to securing its infrastructure and helping clients do the same. Below are some tips that will help you protect your Business VoIP Phone System from hackers and criminal cyber fraud.
1. Protect VoIP Devices with a Next-Generation Firewall:
A Next-Generation Firewall or NGFW is a network security appliance that goes beyond port/protocol inspection & blocking to add deep packet application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and leverage external threat intelligence sources to keep up-to-date with the threat landscape. Configure your firewall to block unauthorized access to your VoIP network. Use a separate VLAN for your VoIP traffic to protect it from other network traffic.
A firewall provides a barrier between your internal network and the external non-trusted network where cyber-attacks could come from. If you are unsure about your firewall or network design, talk to your network administrator or service provider about better protecting your network. Regularly monitor your network for any suspicious activity and promptly address any potential threats.
2. Change Default Passwords:
The first thing to do when implementing a new Business Phone System is to change the default passwords to stronger passwords. Many phone systems will also help you automate the process of changing default web passwords on VoIP desk phones, cordless phones, conference phones, etc. Many of these will also ensure different passwords are used for web interface access vs. SIP authentication.
A VoIP phone with a default web interface password or an easy password set in SIP credentials is an open invitation for hackers to exploit. Ensure that all the devices connected to your VoIP phone system have unique and strong passwords. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in your password to make it harder for hackers to guess.
We recommend changing admin passwords every 6-12 months following these rules:
- 8 to 12 characters in length
- Use uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers
- Do not use words that are related to your personal information
- Use phrases and enter shortcut codes or acronyms
Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as birthdays or common words. Additionally, ensure that each device on your network has a unique password.
3. Keep your Phone System up to date:
To ensure the proper functioning of your VoIP phone system, you must ensure it is maintained and kept up to date. Most systems are software-based and require continuous updates to ensure they are secure and protected from vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit online. Regularly update your VoIP software and firmware to protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Install security patches and updates to prevent unauthorized access to your system. If you do not manage your phone system yourself, ask your service provider about proactive maintenance, patching, and management. Set up automatic updates whenever possible to ensure that your system is always protected.
4. Choose a VoIP Provider that is serious about Security:
VoIP service providers who are serious about security proactive monitor their networks for suspicious activity. This reduces the chances that a potential security breach goes unnoticed for a very long. If you only make calls from a specific location, you can block all IPs except for the static IP at your location from using your VoIP service. Many SIP Trunking, Hosted PBX, and Cloud Communication providers will also go as far as setting credit caps and service blocking on services to protect you against liability from misuse.
These caps are designed to allow normal call usage but stop large unnatural spikes in traffic, thus limiting your exposure to fraudulent calls. Since clients are responsible for calls made, these features can offer you essential liability protection. If your company never makes or receives international phone calls, you can ask your provider to disable international calling.
5. Use Encryptions:
Encryption is a crucial security measure that converts data into an unreadable format, preventing unauthorized access. Enable encryption for both voice and signaling data in your VoIP system to ensure that sensitive information remains protected during transmission.
Encrypt your VoIP traffic to protect it from eavesdropping and interception. Use secure protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) to secure your VoIP traffic.
6. Educate Your Users:
By educating your employees you are ensuring that your efforts to maintain the security of your VoIP phone systems are not in vain. Educate your users so they know how to use the devices and avoid being a vulnerable point to cyberattacks.
Apply policies among employees such as having strong passwords, changing their passwords at least once a year, two-factor authentication to allow access, not having voice messages in the mailbox for a long time to prevent private information contained in those messages from being stolen, and mobile security policies for employees who use VoIP system apps on their mobile devices so that they are not a vulnerable point of cyberattack.
Teach them how to recognize and respond to phishing attempts, suspicious emails, and social engineering attacks. Encourage them to report any suspicious activity or potential security breaches immediately.
7. Regularly Backup Your Data:
Implement regular data backups to protect against potential data loss in the event of a security breach or system failure. Store backup data in a secure location, either on-site or off-site, to ensure quick recovery and minimal downtime.
8. Implement Access Controls:
Limit access to your VoIP phone system to authorized personnel only. Use strong authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication, to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information and make changes to your system.
9. Monitor and Analyze Call Logs:
Regularly review and analyze call logs to identify any unusual or suspicious activity. Look for patterns or anomalies that may indicate a security breach or unauthorized access. Promptly investigate and address any issues to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of your VoIP system.
10. Use a Secure Connection:
When making or receiving VoIP calls, ensure that you are using a secure internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks, as they can be easily compromised. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your VoIP communications from interception.
11. Conduct Regular Security Audits
Periodically assess the security of your VoIP system through security audits and penetration testing. Identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses and take steps to address them. Regular audits will help ensure that your system remains secure and protected against emerging threats.
1. Is VoIP secure?
While VoIP offers numerous advantages such as flexibility, scalability, and cost savings, it is important to address the potential security risks associated with this technology. VoIP calls and data are transmitted over the internet, which means they can be intercepted and accessed by unauthorized individuals.
2. Is VoIP encrypted?
Yes, VoIP can be encrypted to protect the confidentiality of calls and data. Encryption ensures that the information transmitted over the internet is converted into a code that can only be deciphered by authorized parties.
3. What are the VoIP security features?
The VoIP security features include a firewall, encryption, intrusion detection system (IDS), VPN, and regular patch updates. By implementing these security features and practices, you can help ensure that your VoIP system is protected against potential security risks and unauthorized access.
By following these best practices, you can enhance the security of your VoIP phone system and protect your sensitive information from potential threats. Remember, staying proactive and vigilant is key to maintaining a secure and productive environment for your business. So, take the necessary steps and empower your team to make the most of your VoIP technology.