Voice over Internet Protocol is undoubtedly the future of business communication. While previously there may have been concerns about the reliability calls forwarded over the internet, they are mostly a thing of the past now.
These days, VoIP platforms can easily compete with traditional landline phones and even better them, thanks to the former’s versatility and flexibility. Plus, those systems can be set up in mere minutes, and the installation costs are far less than setting up and maintaining typical phone infrastructures. With so many benefits, it shouldn’t be any surprise that 61% of businesses have already switched from landline to VoIP calls.
However, Using Voice over Internet Protocol for business purposes also comes with some serious risks, mainly related to security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, thanks to the aforementioned popularity of calls made over the internet, VoIP is also a prime target for various scammers and cybercriminals.
If you are currently researching VoIP options or you have just had such a system installed, then it’s of utmost importance for you to learn the main dangers lurking on the internet and how you can prevent them from harming your business. In this article, we’ll go through the 5 most common VoIP security risks and how you can protect your network from them. But first, let’s discuss the benefits of using a voice over IP system.
Why should you move your business communication to VoIP?
The ongoing pandemic (and not only this factor) has made businesses of all sizes and various industries realize one thing - that good old landlines and on-premises call platforms are actually pretty limited. Installing a landline spanning the entire office is costly, complicated, and time-consuming. Updating an existing on-premises platform is nearly impossible. Not to mention that a landline phone is tied to the building it’s installed in, so working remotely with one is completely out of the question.
Since all businesses need flexibility these days, many of them have started to look for alternatives to regular phones that are as reliable as landlines but far more flexible and easier to maintain. And VoIP turns out to not only meet, but even exceed most businesses’ expectations! Besides there being basically no difference in the quality of calls (in fact, VoIP call quality is usually even better than on landlines thanks to HD Voice features), VoIP platforms also have several additional advantages including:
- Much lower installation and maintenance costs - to start using VoIP straight away, companies only need to buy a platform subscription. There’s no need for an IT serviceman or any additional hardware, and maintenance of the platform is the provider’s responsibility.
- Remote-work friendly - VoIP allows businesses to make calls from any place and on device they want as long as it has internet access.
- Higher scalability - compared to standard on-premises tools, which are pretty inflexible, companies can modify VoIP platforms as much as they need. For example, they can quickly add new agents to the platform in order to handle the peak holiday season calls and then remove those agents from the system after the busy period is over.
- Variety of useful features inside the platform - VoIP systems come with a long list of features such as IVR menus and automatic call recording that are either unavailable in on-premises software or are very expensive to add. If you need, you can even ask your provider to add custom features to your VoIP platform.
Most common VoIP security risks
As with everything related to the internet, VoIP can be abused by cybercriminals and scammers to damage your business. By hacking the phone system, criminals can listen to all calls you make, rack up phone bills, or steal sensitive information related to both your business and your customers. And criminals usually don’t end there. They can use the obtained data to either impersonate your business or blackmail you, demanding money in exchange for not revealing sensitive information. What are the most commonly observed security problems related to VoIP?
Phishing (sometimes also called Vishing, as in VoIP phishing) attempts have plagued companies worldwide in recent years - as of 2021, Google has registered more than 2 million phishing sites.
Typically, scammers call on numbers that appear close to those of legitimate organizations (government agencies, tax departments, or banks, etc.) and leave a message about “suspicious activity” occurring on the recipient’s account. The victim is then directed to another call on which they are asked to “verify their identity” - meaning, sharing sensitive company information like their employer or bank account details.
70% percent of organizations surveyed by Corero said they experience 20-50 DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks per month. And even though most of them aren’t successful, the main problem is that with powerful machines, specialized tools, and much better bandwidth than ever before, cybercriminals can now launch DDoS attacks much faster and cheaper. This also means that not only “big players” (such as banks, enterprises, or social media platforms) are in danger of being attacked, but businesses of all sizes and industries are at risk.
A DDoS attack happens when criminals overwhelm a server with data and use up all of its bandwidth. By doing so, hackers can make a machine or network unavailable to its users by either temporarily or indefinitely disrupting the service. In the case of VoIP, that means that no calls can be made or received. But that’s not all - in the worst-case scenario, the server’s admin controls can be taken over by the attacker.
By call tampering, hackers attempt to disrupt the calls you are currently making. They can send a large amount of data along the same path you are using for the call, making the quality unstable. Or they can delay the delivery of data packets between callers, which makes all communication incomprehensible or produces long periods of silence.
Malware and Viruses
Malware, trojans, and viruses continue to be one of the biggest threats to the security of network systems. Those harmful programs are created specifically to give criminals access to the entire system, consume the network bandwidth, or severely decrease the quality of the internet signal.
And while they can do a lot of damage by themselves, many of those malicious programs can create backdoors in the system, making it easier for hackers to eavesdrop on your calls or steal important information.
The name (or rather, acronym) might sound a bit gross, but it relates to a serious threat for any business. Through a “Voice over Misconfigured Internet Telephones” tool, cybercriminals can take voice packets and sensitive information straight from calls. Not only that, but the attacker can also gain access to other useful information such as where the call came from, which they can use later to eavesdrop on all of the calls you make.
SPIT is a voice variant of spamming that works by sending voicemails or so-called “robocalls” several times per week. And with the tools the spammers have at their disposal, it’s effortless for them to send thousands of messages to different IP addresses at once or pass themselves off as genuine, local phone numbers when in reality they come from different countries.
Answering such a call or listening to the voicemail may redirect the recipient to a very expensive phone number from a different country, or the messages might carry viruses or spyware along with them as well.
Is VoIP secure to use then?
Reading about all of those VoIP security risks and dangers might make you feel anxious about using Internet calls in your business. But the good news is that you can make your calls and data secure by learning some basic cybersecurity methods.
- Data Encryption is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your sensitive information is protected from hackers. And even if data or messages get intercepted, with strong encryption they will be useless to the hackers.
- Create strong, varied passwords for all of the different devices on your VoIP platform.
- Regularly test your network for security vulnerabilities.
- Keep all of the tools you use regularly updated.
- Train your employees for how to react in case of a phishing attempt.
VoIP system providers also work hard to guarantee that the data stored and passed through their platforms are safe from any hacking attempts. They also have various safety measures built into their platforms and regularly test them for any vulnerabilities
To ensure that your call logs, business information, and any other data are safe with us, at Cloudtalk we use a combination of security tokens and full 256-bit encryption with a Perfect Forward Secrecy system. All passwords used in the platform are also encrypted through a one-way algorithm. As for your calls, those made through both the SIP and WebRTC protocols are automatically encrypted.
No passwords or credit card data are stored internally - the latter is provided directly to the payment processing company while the former is stored by Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform in 9 globally distributed data centers. This approach ensures that your data is safe with us.
When using any tools connected to the internet, you need to keep an eye on potential safety risks - and VoIP is no different. The more often you plan to use it in your business, the more you should shore up the vulnerabilities of Voice over Internet Protocol calls. But fortunately, by taking some basic measures, you can prevent most VoIP security risks from hurting your business and keep your data safe and sound. Keep your tools regularly updated, use strong passwords, and never share any confidential information through an unsecured network.
CloudTalk puts a heavy focus on providing the highest-security standard for our platform, so you can rest assured when using it that your data is protected from all threats and simply enjoy the benefits associated with Voice over Internet Protocol calls.