VoIP Education

The fundamentals of VoIP security

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One of the most frequently asked questions about a VoIP phone system is fundamental and critical, and is as follows: is VoIP secure? To answer the question, no phone system is bulletproof. VoIP has a myriad of benefits, but possible security risks should not be overlooked.

 

Given the growing number of cybercrimes around the world, the importance of security has never been more significant. In every practical sense, VoIP has a good reputation as a secure technology. Nevertheless, every time you use electronic devices or the Internet, it is wise to understand the security risks that such usage may pose to your business and take appropriate precautions.

You might be wondering, how important VoIP security really is? Even if you yourself have never been a victim, the reality is that the threat of security breaches through the phone system is quite serious.

 

Truthfully, security is a must for every business, large or small. A breach in your phone system could have disastrous effects. VoIP, like all services connected to the Internet, can be targeted by hackers to commit fraud, theft and other crimes.

 

When VoIP systems were first established, there were very little security concerns. However, the proliferation of VoIP in the marketplace means that security of this technology needs to be emphasized.

 

The good news is that today VoIP is quite secure. In general, VoIP providers are very cautious with regards to security, as the nature of security threats continues to change. However, close collaboration with a business VoIP provider and diligence in overseeing IT management is critical to ensuring that security requirements are met and enforced.

 

VoIP security is not only about call encryption, but also the security of your Internet network. Lack of security can negatively affect customer relationships and harm your brand if it were to lead to a disruption of your services. By learning more about VoIP security issues and understanding the solutions, you can build a good defense system to protect yourself from any threats.

Denial of Service (DoS) – This attack consumes the network resources that may interrupt telephone service and drop phone calls. An attack occurs in a variety of ways, such as by sending data that provides a takeover of the system. Denial of Service attacks often affect websites or services that include high-profile web servers, banks or credit card payment interfaces.

 

War Dialing – Hackers use different technologies and techniques to automatically call multiple phone numbers to find vulnerabilities in IT security infrastructure, helping hackers to breach those systems.

 

Spam over Internet Telephone (SPIT) – SPIT is still a largely theoretical threat, but it can be just as distracting and a wastage of resources as its email counterpart. So far, only a few outbreaks of SPIT have been reported, but with time it could become a significant problem.

 

Vishing – The VoIP equivalent of email phishing, intruders attack the phone numbers of VoIP users and try to lure them into fake money-making schemes or trick the user into disclosing credit card numbers and other important information. Like SPIT, vishing is not widespread, but it is a growing problem.

 

Toll fraud – International revenue sharing fraud (IRSF), also known as toll fraud, is a scheme where fraudsters generate high volumes of international calls on expensive routes. Scammers call so-called premium rate numbers and take a fraction of the revenue that these calls generate. A large bill is then received to be paid by the actual account holder.

 

Eavesdropping – If your VoIP system is set up on an unencrypted network, you may have an unwanted party listening to your conversations. This can lead to serious security breaches, especially if the conversation contains sensitive information.

 

Robocalls – Are more of an inconvenience than a serious threat, but voicemail allows people to leave, including robocalls and other spammers trying to coerce you to respond to an annoying and futile request.

 

Malware – As with any Internet-connected system, VoIP can be affected by malware attacks as well as other viruses that can slow down or damage your system.

To protect your VoIP system, you need to protect all components of the VoIP infrastructure, including the VoIP system, SIP trunks and data center.

 

An important part of VoIP security is Session Border Controllers (SBCs) that manage the signals coming to your VoIP devices. Designed for voice traffic, the SBCs have the same built-in security features as a standard network firewall, but provide an extra layer of protection for your VoIP services.  

 

Moreover, when data packets travel across the Internet, cyber thieves can intercept them. Encryption makes it difficult for cyber thieves to accurately retrieve data. When encrypted data travels over the network, it is converted back to the original code by secured endpoints.

 

Also, general security measures are just as important as SBCs and encryption. Common security measures include VPNs for secure network access, two-factor identification or IP restriction for account security, strong passwords, network penetration testing, and call limits and restrictions for unused services.

 

7 best practices for preventing VoIP security risks: 

  1. Use robust passwords for computers, mobile phones, tablets and other devices connected to your network. 
  2. Organize ongoing training for your employees on risks and the protocols required to avoid them. This is especially important if a company handles sensitive information on a regular basis.
  3. Monitor your system for unusual activity. Anything that seems unusual or abnormal can pose a threat. Act on any red flags as soon as possible, before it becomes a real threat.
  4. Set up account authentication. Each computer has a unique IP address that identifies the device requesting access to the network.
  5. Disable international calling or, if you must make international calls, enable geo-fencing. Also, you can use an IP blacklist on your firewall to block connections and VoIP traffic to malicious IP addresses. 
  6. Formulate an emergency plan and train your staff what to do in case of a system emergency or breakdown. The right steps during a crisis can prevent an even worse scenario.
  7. If you have any problems, contact your VoIP provider immediately. Generally, they can be helpful in solving security issues.

Conclusion

When using any tools connected to the Internet, you need to be aware of potential security risks – and VoIP is no exception. Fortunately, by implementing some basic security measures, most VoIP security risks can be prevented from harming your business, with important data remaining protected. Keep your security tools up to date, use strong passwords, and never share any confidential information over an unsecured network.