VoIP is an abbreviation for Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology that allows you to make or receive calls over the internet. It enables users to make calls from smartphones, computers, VoIP phones, and special browsers. It is useful for businesses and individuals, with features that are not present in landline phones. The landline phone is connected using copper wires and is restricted to a physical location. A VoIP phone is not bound to one location as it uses the internet to function. Features of VoIP phones include call recording, caller ID, voicemail to email, etc.
How does a VoIP phone work?
VoIP first converts voice into digital data, which is then transmitted to other users or groups of users via the internet. The digital data is again converted back to voice at the receiver’s end. This is how a VoIP phone works, basically. VoIP uses codecs, which suppress large amounts of VoIP data for this process. Additional components of a typical VoIP system include:
- IP PBX to manage user phone numbers.
- Gateways to connect networks.
- Session border controllers to provide security.
Security is always a concern for any device that is connected to the internet, as they become vulnerable to hacking, phishing, and spoofing. Let’s look at some of the measures that can be taken to boost VoIP security and prevent wrongdoing.
Tips to Boost VoIP Security
Tip#1 Choosing a Secure VoIP provider
The security of VoIP comes down to its compliance with security protocols. You need to ensure your VoIP provider meets security requirements. Some of the top accreditations include:
ISO/IEC 20071 – It is a global standard awarded to organizations that assess security threats and respond to them. This means that a particular organization has implemented rigorous information security controls.
PCI Compliance: Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance states that if you process credit card payments, your infrastructure must be secure. This means operating system updates, secure VLANs, and penetration testing against the organization’s IP address.
SOC 2 Compliance: Service Organization Control (SOC) compliance includes five areas, which are privacy, data integrity, availability, and security. Many cloud-based services are SOC 2 compliant.
Tip#2 Call Encryption
Call Encryption uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP), which ensure high-level security on every call. Data should be encrypted at every possible layer. Modern VoIP services should offer end-to-end encryption, making call data scrambled and useless to snoopers.
Tip#3 Strong Passwords for Credentials
Many of the VoIP devices come with pre-set passwords that are available online. Most phone web interfaces do not have automatic lockouts, so hackers can bombard them with an unlimited number of keygen passwords. Whenever you buy a new phone or reset it to factory defaults, you should change the password first. Passwords should be changed monthly and should include letters, special characters, and uppercase.
Tip#4 Network Address Translation (NAT)
Network Address Translation or NAT is a router feature that provides your VoIP phones, computers, and other devices with a private IP address that can be seen only on your LAN. This masking of the IP address acts as a barrier between the VoIP phone and the open internet. Without the IP address, a hacker will not be able to manipulate the device remotely.
A VoIP phone having a public IP address will get a lot of “ghost calls” just to see what the device is. This is done as reconnaissance of the target by the hackers.
Tip#5 Keep International Calling Disabled
Hackers try to use VoIP phones for their fraudulent activities and, as a result, rake up calling minutes for expensive foreign country numbers. If you don’t make international calls daily, it makes sense to disable this option. If you do make international calls regularly, keep a watch on your phone records.
Tip#6 Follow VoIP Best Practices
Some best practices must be followed to ensure optimal security for your company’s network. They are as follows:
- Enforce Strong Password Policy- Your employees should frequently change their passwords for their VoIP phones, and they should be strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. They should not be stored in a text file, written on sticky notes, or pasted on the desk.
- Update Your Operating System – Users should be asked to update their operating systems as this can prevent attacks by malware
- Set Up Virtual Private Network (VPN) – When your employees work remotely, set up a VPN for them as it encrypts all the traffic. The VPN should be business grade and set up by renowned companies like Cisco, Sophos, or Cloudflare.
- Wi-Fi Encryption – On your company’s wireless networks, activate WPA2 and ask employees to use this encryption for their Wi-Fi network.
- Deactivate inactive accounts – Whenever any employee leaves the company, make sure that you deactivate their accounts immediately as you don’t want any unauthorized access.
Tip#7 Disable Phone Web Interface
A VoIP phone web interface allows you to set and update many important phone properties, which include business VoIP accounts on the phone, codecs, call settings, and network and SIP settings. The phone’s web interface also allows downloading a backup configuration of the phone, revealing usernames and passwords of phone users in plain text. Phone web interface is also one of the most vulnerable entry points and a primary target for hackers.
Advantages of VoIP
- Cost is lower than landline phones
- Higher Quality Sound
- Access for remote workers
- Lower rates for international calls
Disadvantages of VoIP
- Some VoIP services may not connect to emergency services
- Needs high-speed internet connection
- Will not work during power outages
- Lack of directory assistance depending on the VoIP service
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a reliable technology and provides several advantages over fixed-line phones. Although there are certain limitations, like being completely dependent on the internet for functioning, it can be leveraged by large corporations. Security is also a concern for VoIP technology, but if the users implement the tips discussed above, it will be difficult for hackers to steal data or snoop on the conversations.
Victor Ortiz is a Content Marketer with GoodFirms. He likes to read & blog on technology-related topics and is passionate about traveling, exploring new places, and listening to music.