As with any internet technology and application, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is not exempt from various security threats and risks. VoIP is open to the same digital threats that other communication methods (such as email) are prone to. But just because security threats exist doesn’t mean VoIP phone systems are dangerous to use, or that businesses are better off using traditional landlines. In fact, there are a number of preventative methods you can take to ensure that you have a safe and secure VoIP system.
Let’s take a look at four of the most common security threats VoIP users face, as well as the various precautions that can be taken to mitigate and counteract them.
Also known as “voice phishing”, vishing occurs when a scammer contacts you and pretends to be a representative of a trusted organization (such as a bank, insurance provider, or even the IRS) to obtain personal and financial information such as your social security number or bank account information. Vishing is similar to phishing, but instead of contacting you via email or text, the scam is made via a VoIP call.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from this type of fraud is by not giving out valuable information to anyone who calls you. Always verify if the company is legitimate or if the caller is indeed connected to the company they claim to be a representative of. If you suspect that you are being scammed, make sure to report vishing incidents to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Criminals that carry out vishing attacks often use caller ID spoofing to gain critical personal and financial information. Caller ID spoofing occurs when a criminal makes calls but deliberately presents a different caller ID to the recipient in order to mask their identity.
While you can’t tell right away if you’re being spoofed, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from these malicious parties. The most important thing to remember is to never provide personal information over the phone. If the call is suspicious, hang up and file a complaint with the FCC.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attacks are usually carried out by perpetrators who are not looking to gain financial or critical information, but simply for fun. DDos attacks can disrupt or, worse, render your network useless by flooding it with unnecessary call-signaling messages over the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). This slows down call processing and brings your business to a screeching halt, which can significantly affect your operations (and even your bottom line).
DDoS attacks are more complex and cannot easily be handled by an ordinary firewall. In order to guard yourself from these attacks, one of the best things to do is to monitor your network and web traffic. There are also DDoS mitigation devices on the market that integrate into your network and to help detect nasty traffic. But your best bet is finding a reliable VoIP provider who can help you assess existing security protocols.
As long as you’re connected to the internet, various cyber threats (such as worms, Trojan horses, spyware, malware, and other nasty viruses) pose a risk to your network as well as your machines. VoIP softphones, in particular, can be vulnerable to malicious code attacks since they run on user systems like PCs and PDAs.
Make sure you install up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware tools and make sure your network is behind a strong firewall. Remember, if malware and nasty viruses can’t penetrate your network, they can’t make it to your phone system and disrupt your business.
VoIP business phone systems are widely used today thanks to their ease-of-use, flexibility, cost-efficiency and global reach. While the technology isn’t immune to various security threats, being aware of such risks and staying proactive with IT measures will help businesses connect and communicate safely.