Security best practices for VoIP systems

Security best practices for VoIP systems

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small- and medium-sized businesses in Charlotte to adopt work from home arrangements. To enable these work setups, many of them have invested in business technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems.

VoIP solutions offer a host of benefits, such as cost savings and great call features. However, they also come with many security issues, including:

  • Spam – Hackers flood a voicemail box with robocalls and other phone scams.
  • Toll fraud – After gaining access to your phone network, cybercriminals call international numbers, causing you to rack up expensive charges.
  • VoIP traffic interception – Attackers use unsecured networks to intercept voice, video, or text messages, like those sent to confirm users’ identities in multifactor authentication (MFA).
  • Phishing – Cybercriminals conduct caller ID spoofing to hide their identity and trick an unsuspecting user into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials.
  • Denial-of-service (DoS) – Attackers bombard the network with fake call requests to degrade call quality and drop phone calls.

To protect your VoIP system from cyberthreats, you can implement the following security measures:

Call encryption

Unencrypted VoIP networks are prone to being snooped on. This is why you should make sure that your VoIP service supports Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption. TLS and SRTP are VoIP protocols that work together to ensure that only authorized users can decode data and voice traffic. Even if an outsider manages to intercept your VoIP traffic, they still won’t be able to make sense and make use of it.

Private virtual local area network (VLAN)

You can secure your VoIP system by setting up a dedicated network for it, separating it from the rest of your company network. This way, if other parts of your company network experience security issues, your VoIP system will remain unaffected.

Aside from boosting security, setting up a private VLAN for VoIP will also improve call quality. This is because VoIP data won’t have to compete with other traffic in the company network, preventing delays in the delivery of voice packets.

Virtual private network (VPN)

Requiring remote workers to use a VPN when using VoIP systems can significantly increase security. A VPN will not only encrypt VoIP data, but it will also mask IP addresses, making your employees’ online activities virtually untraceable.

Changing default passwords

Like any other piece of hardware with a web user interface, VoIP phones come with default credentials. Make sure to change those default passwords immediately since these could easily be exploited by attackers, just like what happened in the Mirai botnet distributed DoS attack.

Strong authentication measures

While getting employees to adopt good password habits (e.g., using strong, unique passwords) can prevent hackers from gaining access to VoIP accounts and networks, enabling MFA is equally important. With MFA, users have to present two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity. This greatly strengthens security since hackers would need to provide a password and one or more authentication factors (e.g., fingerprint scan, answer to a security question) to gain account access.

Software updates

Apply software updates immediately. These include updates for operating systems of mobile devices, VoIP mobile apps, or any hardware with firmware. Software updates often include security patches for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

Usage monitoring

Once a VoIP system is hacked, the attacker can make numerous calls at the expense of the system owner. The best defense against this is to keep track of your usage. This allows you to quickly spot unusual calling trends or behavior, such as 45-minute voice calls to an unknown international number.

For easy usage monitoring, ask your VoIP service provider if they have a dashboard with features like call analytics, user behavior analytics, and fraud monitoring.

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