Hosted vs On-Premise VoIP – Which is Better for Security?

Posted on: 2018-04-17 | Categories: VoIP Services

The debate between hosted versus on-premise VoIP systems continues to this day. Each type of system has its own pros and cons and there is no perfect solution that will work for every single business out there. It is more about finding the solution that meets your specific requirements at that particular time. But that doesn’t stop media speculation on which will be the ultimate winner!

On-Premise or Hosted System?

It is commonly acknowledged that hosted services are easier to set up and maintain. The service provider delivers the features you need over the cloud. You don’t have to invest large sums of money or buy expensive hardware. You can switch between vendors if they can’t keep up with your needs.

On-premise systems require more investment – both in terms of financial resources and expertise. For the long-term, premise-based VoIP systems offer more bang for your buck. However, not many organizations are able to afford such a system at the outset. Large corporations are better equipped to support on-premise VoIP systems.

What’s Better from a Security Standpoint?

Security is often overlooked when debating between the two options. Organizations are more concerned about costs, maintenance, ongoing technical support, and other risk factors. They rarely think about the security implications of each alternative.

Security Implications of On-Premise Systems

As indicated by its name, premise-based systems sit somewhere in your own office in a closet or room. You are fully in control of setup, configuration, maintenance, troubleshooting, not to mention security. This type of control is appealing to organizations that have compliance requirements or operate in certain industries like banking or insurance.

Unfortunately, many companies overestimate their ability to secure the network. Quite a few organizations end up hiring expensive consultants or IT professionals to secure the inexpensive system they thought would save them money.

VoIP routes voice calls over the Internet, similar to email. This means that the threat landscape for VoIP is different from traditional landlines. Hackers can target your voice servers, intercept calls, place fraudulent calls, steal information ( passwords, account credentials client data etc.), and even use the phones as an entry point into an otherwise secure system. Before you opt for on-premise systems, you need to ask if you have the in-house expertise to manage all this on your own.

Hosted VoIP Systems – Security Matters

Hosted services are often the better solution, at least from a security perspective. This is especially true for small and medium businesses that typically do not have security experts in-house. If you purchase hosted services from a reputed vendor, you can rest assured that they will take care of securing their network and data center.

However, that doesn’t absolve you from all responsibilities towards security. You still have to secure the hardware endpoints, user access, and your own network when calls pass through them. An employee who enters their password on a malicious website or reveals it on social media can easily compromise your entire system. Scammers can use security bugs in phone hardware to intercept calls or place unauthorized long-distance calls to the detriment of your company.

Generally speaking, some threats are unique to each type of system while others are common to both. For instance, phishing attacks can be successful in compromising the phones whether you are using hosted services or manage your own on-premise solution. If you don’t track registered devices accurately, hackers may be able to remotely log into your system in place calls. This type of attack can be perpetrated on cloud VoIP services or SIP trunking solutions.

How Can You Protect Your Business?

Regardless of the type of system you use, it is important to protect and secure the voice network. Using proper encryption methods is one way of protecting your business data. This way even if criminals intercept calls or steal confidential information, they have no way of extracting useful data. But you must remember that encryption is not 100% foolproof. Many organizations think that encryption is sufficient to defend their network only to find that it is not true.

Defense security tools work best in layers i.e. you should have multiple security tools working in tandem. Even if someone manages to slip by one layer, something else should stop them. Suppose you have firewalls, SBCs, encryption, and stringent access controls. If hackers managed to bypass the firewall, they will still have trouble causing damage.

User data is the starting point for many security breaches. Awareness and training was a long way in protecting the business from external threats. So whether you opt for hosted services or set up your own on-premise systems, make sure to prioritize security. A little bit of planning and foresight will help you more than scrambling to fix the problem after a breach occurs.