How to prevent vulnerabilities threaten VoIP deployments

Data breaches can bring businesses to their knees – disrupting services and tarnishing the reputations of brands.
VoIP services aren’t immune to data theft. Just last year, a breach at Secures Technologies compromised 70 million records across 37 states. The company provides phone services to prisons, and the breach raised privacy concerns because it affected 14,000 phone recordings that probably included confidential attorney-conversations.
Yet, despite this kind of news, companies still haven’t focused on securing their communications systems. With greater attention paid to Denial of Service (DoS) and malware attacks, VoIP deployments remain as vulnerable as ever.
To avoid becoming another victim of a SIP security attack, service providers should take some basic precautions.

1. Encrypt Your Data
VoIP security just isn’t security without data encryption. Encryption strengthens the security of data by converting it into an unintelligible form while it travels over networks.
If a cybercriminal intercepts the transmission, he would have nothing to gain because the data would make no sense. Indeed, cybercriminals are not able to listen to privileged conversations and business-sensitive discussions on stolen phone recordings. The data is decrypted when it reaches its destination. Along with a firewall, encryption is the top means of VoIP defense and should not be disregarded because of cost.

2. Build a Firewall
A firewall should be used in tandem with encryption. Firewalls stand up to viruses, malware and other security threats. A VoIP network running on a central server that’s protected by a firewall will operate securely, and settings can be increased or decreased to accommodate VoIP traffic.
Voice firewall solutions can provide an impenetrable firewall that ensures your VoIP communications proceed without risk.

3. Implement Authentication
Authentication registers VoIP users and equipment on your network. It’s imperative that you provide some type of authentication, especially for remote VoIP users. If a user does not authenticate, you can deny access.
There are several authentication methods. One of them, mutual authentication, requires the communicating VoIP devices to authenticate one another prior to a conversation starting. It also might consist of a password, PIN or other secret information that the parties have agreed upon. Mutual authentication minimizes the chance that an unauthorized user gains access to a conversation.

4. Strengthen Your Password
Your business should enforce a strict password policy. Require employees to regularly change their passwords and to include special characters – numbers, exclamation points, etc. – in passwords.
If you’re stuck, ask your service provider about the best way to approach passwords and PINs.

5. Educate Your Employees
While a firewall and other measures protect VoIP deployments from outside threats, don’t lose sight of the fact that many data breaches are perpetrated from within. Survey after survey show that inside threats are not to be taken lightly.
Train your workforce on how to prevent inside breaches, including insight on how to spot suspicious behavior and how to prevent accidental acts like giving company information to outsiders.

These basic security steps should sweep aside any vulnerabilities that expose your VoIP platform to cybercrime. Following these simple practices will beter ensure the continuous operation of your VoIP services and keep business communications humming.