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How to protect your business VoIP phone service from hackers

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How to protect your business VoIP phone service from hackers
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Most organizations know security is important when setting up any enterprise system. Consumers are also more conscious of their online security than ever before. With security incidents making headlines every day, there is no such thing as being too careful. Read on to find out how to protect your business VoIP phone service from hackers.

But many businesses don’t implement the right security defenses to deal with hackers. Why?
Setting up a secure VoIP phone service can be expensive. When the main reason businesses switch to VoIP is cost, it is perhaps understandable that organizations overlook security. Another reason is that many enterprises don’t know how to secure their phone systems. They lack knowledge and expertise.

However, it is important to remember that it is easier and less expensive to protect your business VoIP phone service than having to deal with the consequences of an attack. Defending your phone system does not mean using the most expensive security tools. It is all about layering multiple defenses to discourage hackers.

Why VoIP security matters

Securing your business VoIP phone service is crucial for a number of reasons:

  • Attacks on VoIP phone systems are increasing steadily
  • Hackers compromise phone systems as a gateway to access other areas of the network
  • Organizations can lose highly confidential and sensitive data such as Customer data; Financial information; Patents and research
  • Customers are more likely to blame enterprises for not securing their data leading to loss of Trust; Sales; Brand value
  • How VoIP hackers operate

    Business VoIP phone services use different protocols, some more popular than others. Unfortunately, it is a fact that no protocol is 100% attack-proof. Hackers are also getting creative with their strategies. The method of attack often depends on the target protocol and the hacker’s objective.

    Take your network down
    Organizations are familiar with distributed denial-of-service attacks. These attacks target servers, services, and entire networks. Hackers can use the same method of attack to bring down your VoIP phone system.

    Few phone systems can continue to operate under hundreds of thousands of malicious calls. The objective is to render your system unusable and for your users to not be able to make or receive calls. A DDoS attack can also prevent access to softphone apps or any associated resources like online portals.

    Control your network
    In this type of attack, hackers first gain access to your network through an unsecured device or server. They try to gather as much information about your phone system as possible. Unfortunately, many users and companies make it easy for hackers by not changing the default passwords on their accounts. They can:

  • Spam your phones with calls
  • Steal confidential data by eavesdropping and recording conversations
  • Call your clients pretending to be your employees and get valuable data like account passwords, PINs, and other credentials
  • Infect the network with malicious code and malware
  • Call your service providers and change access codes, billing plans or service features
  • Lock you out of your network by changing the passwords
  • Defraud providers and businesses
    Hackers execute toll fraud in different ways. The consequences and objectives, however, are the same. Once the attacker gains control of your network, they commit fraud. They may order new services under your name. They can make thousands of calls to numbers in different countries, for which you have to pay the bills.

    Some hackers also purchase premium toll numbers that charge for incoming calls. They then use a compromised VoIP phone service to place calls to that number. It’s easy to make thousands of dollars via this method. Companies may find out about this too late and they’re on the hook for the entire amount with their providers.

    How to protect your business VoIP phone service from hackers

    How to protect your VoIP service

    With millions of organizations using VoIP phone service, your network may not get attacked for a while. On the flip side, just because you have not experienced an attack until now doesn’t mean it will not happen in the future. On the whole, it is always better to have a secured network with multiple defensive tools.

    Here’s what you can do to protect your business VoIP phone service from unauthorized access and attacks:

    Use strong passwords
    It is a well-known fact that default passwords are the most common method of gaining access to a system. It can be tempting to leave the default passwords on new devices or services. But all it takes to find the default password for anything is a quick online search. Do you really want to make it easy for hackers to enter your system?

    However, it’s not enough to simply change the default password. The passwords that you do use should be strong. They should not be common words that hackers can guess easily. Strong passwords will not use obvious information like last names, birthdates, favorite songs, etc. It’s far too easy for hackers to find such information via social networks.

    Encrypt everything
    Encryption is not a silver bullet for security problems. Encryption alone cannot protect your system. But it should be a part of your overall security. Since VoIP phone calls travel over the same network as all your other data, you should encrypt them as well.

    Unfortunately, it is not easy to turn on encryption after you set up your network. You should enable encryption during the initial setup and configuration. If you use hosted services, ask the provider about encryption and their security measure before signing on the dotted line.

    Consider a VPN
    Enterprises already use VPNs to enable remote access for their employees. It is a good idea to use the VPN for your VoIP business phone service as well. A VPN establishes a secure tunnel for off-site employees to access resources as if they were sitting in your office. Without a VPN, such remote access is a vulnerability that hackers can exploit. It protects your systems and users when they have no choice but to use public or unsecured networks.

    Segregate your calls
    Organizations hesitate to use a separate VLAN for VoIP systems because of the cost. It can be expensive to set up and maintain two networks. However, it can make your life easier by segregating phone calls.
    By confining VoIP phone calls to a separate network, you ensure hackers cannot gain access to other parts of your organization. It is also easier to identify signs of an attack when you need to monitor only on part of the network. Additionally, it makes troubleshooting easier. Admins can isolate problems and identify issues quickly as they don’t have to check all possible devices on the network. If your phones run into a problem, you don’t have to worry about email going down and vice versa.

    Test the network
    It is not sufficient to set up security tools and then forget about them. You should be testing your defenses and security measures periodically. Even if you lack the expertise, you can always hire security consultants who will do the task for you. You should also test your infrastructure whenever you add devices or new services.

    These tests often uncover underlying issues with network setup and configuration. You may find that your fancy firewall doesn’t actually stop unauthorized access. Or that employees frequently share passwords with colleagues. Testing allows you to ensure your tools are working as they should and to mitigate vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.

    Inform and train employees
    Users are often the best and worst links in any security system. Untrained or unaware employees pose a massive risk. Hackers have found that it’s easier to get passwords from users through phishing emails or spam calls than try to attack a network directly. Using default passwords, using the same password across sites, and clicking on suspicious links are the most common signs of an unsecured system.

    On the other hand, a trained workforce with good security habits is the best defense. Employees should know the best password practices and use common sense when clicking on links in emails. They should what to do when they spot malicious or suspicious activity. You should have a process they can follow if your network is under attack. A training and awareness program is the best investment you can make in securing your business VoIP phone service.

    Think of your network as a home. It’s not enough to barricade the front door, you should also secure the windows, the chimney, and the rear door. The more layers you have, the better your chances of preventing attacks. Hackers are less likely to attack a secure network as it’s not worth their time. They will move on to their next target.

    We hope this post has given you some tips to protect your business VoIP phone service from attacks. Sign up for VoIPstudio’s free 30-day trial today and see how we protect your phones for yourself!

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