Hardly any phone call system in a business beats VoIP when it comes to efficiency and flexibility. However, it’s not immune to cyberattacks.
What kind of communication system are you using for your business?
I asked because many modern-day businesses have now switched to the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This technology allows employees to perform voice calls using only their internet connection.
It’s often a wise choice considering that using VoIP comes with several benefits to a business.
Among its benefits include lower operating costs, greater convenience than traditional services, increased accessibility, higher scalability, and the ability to multitask. VoIP also comes with advanced features for teams of all sizes, is completely portable, and offers superior voice quality.
However, VoIP systems also have limitations, with cyberattacks being their number one downside.
The good news is that it’s possible to protect a business’s VoIP system from hackers. And if you already implemented VoIP in your business, it’s not too late to secure it.
Read on to discover the most common threats to your network and tips on preventing them.
THE NEED FOR VoIP PROTECTION
All VoIP systems require a stable internet connection to function properly. Unfortunately, their reliability on the internet makes them vulnerable to various security issues.
Some of the most frequent ones include:
Security Issue #1. Denial of Service
Denial of Service (DoS) is a common threat to VoIP systems. These are attacks designed to shut down a machine or network and make it inaccessible for use.
When this happens, legitimate users of VoIP technology may not be able to access their information systems and devices. And call centers can be affected by lower call quality, uptime, and latency.
Security Issue #2. War Dialing
War dialing is an attack that controls the company’s private branch exchange (PBX) and scans for other phone networks. This means hackers can dial numbers and connect to modems and other extensions.
Security Issue #3. Toll Fraud
Toll fraud is a threat that consists of making calls to outside lines from a company’s existing system.
For example, hackers will dial costly international numbers intending to rack up toll charges to your business.
Security Issue #4. Phishing
This is a common threat wherein attackers send fraudulent messages designed to trick victims into revealing sensitive information. Often, the unsuspecting victims would divulge information about passwords, internal IP networks, and similar data.
Security Issue #5. Malware
It’s a threat where attackers install malicious software via email or phone. A file or code gets delivered over a network and has the goal of infecting, stealing, or exploring the information contained within a system.
After infecting the system with malware, VoIP hackers can enter your network and access critical business information.
Security Issue #6. Call Interception
The call interception attacker uses unsecured networks to intercept the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) traffic that serves to initiate, maintain, and terminate real-time voice and video sessions.
A victim of a call interception attack can be redirected to another line hosted by the hacker, for example
6 TIPS FOR BOOSTING VoIP SECURITY
Given the variety of threats imposed by attackers on VoIP systems, it’s necessary to optimize your VoIP security ASAP.
Here are 6 valuable tips to get you started.
Tip #1. Set Up a Firewall
Secure firewalls are necessary for all VoIP systems. It’s important to make your VoIP software and hardware firewalls scan information that goes in and out of the system to ensure it’s secure.
If spam or a threat comes your way, the firewall will identify and gain control over it. Shielding your system from the attack.
Also, a good firewall will allow the data packets you send to travel unhindered.
Tip #2. Use Strong Passwords
Your VoIP system is no different from any other software or platform you use for handling sensitive information. For this reason, it needs to be protected with strong and regularly updated passwords.
Aim for combinations of at least 12 characters, including numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special symbols. And for ultimate protection, go for passwords consisting of a random character series.
It’s crucial to set a password as soon as you configure your VoIP system. Otherwise, you’re likely to forget about it later.
Also, remember that some VoIP phones come with pre-set passwords, often available publicly. That’s why you should change yours as soon as you get a chance.
Ideally, try to change your passwords every three months.
Tip #3. Restrict Calling
Many VoIP attacks happen due to toll fraud. So, if your business runs locally, there’s no need to have the international call option enabled. This allows you to be on the safe side and avoid paying expensive bills you weren’t even responsible for making.
You can let your VoIP service block 1-900 numbers to avoid toll fraud.
Tip #4. Encourage Your Team to Report Suspicious Behavior
Many of the VoIP attacks arrive due to irresponsible behavior. To prevent this from happening, educate your team on how they can best do their job without affecting the system’s security.
For starters, they should know how to spot unusual network activity, handle passwords, and report suspicious behavior. They should also report ghost calls and missing voicemails whenever received. Staff also shouldn’t store voicemail for too long.
The reality is that sometimes, cybersecurity training during onboarding often isn’t enough. That’s why you should do periodical training to keep your VoIP safe at all times.
Tip #5. Deactivate Web Interface Use
Ideally, you should deactivate the web interface used for your VoIP system.
Using phones on a desktop computer opens an area of weakness to attackers. It’s enough for a single phone user falling prey to leave the whole system exposed to an external party. All your data can be stolen in text format as a result.
So, unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to use the web interface, be sure to secure it very strictly.
Tip #6. Use a VPN for Remote Workers
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great software that encrypts traffic regardless of your employee’s location.
You can set up such a network for your remote staff to prevent data leaks and breaches. The good news is that using this service won’t degrade the call quality.
(Re)gaining Control Over Your VoIP Security
VoIP systems are a fantastic alternative to landlines. After all, they offer many more features and flexibility at a fraction of the cost. However, their reliability on the internet also makes them susceptible to cyberattacks.
If you have just set up a VoIP system for your company or are thinking of starting one, securing it should be your number one priority. Don’t risk falling prey to toll fraud, malware, phishing, and other attacks. Take some time to secure your business by following the tips from this article.
And if you need more help to implement these changes or would like to further discuss securing your business’s VoIP system, reach out to us and we can set up a 10-15-minute chat.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
A torn-down virtual infrastructure creates risks for any business. And it can have a significant impact on how quickly you can retrieve your data and resume operations following an attack.
These days, many businesses use virtualized infrastructure for more straightforward data storage. It’s because this approach is superior to physical solutions due to enhanced flexibility, straightforward provisioning, and affordable pricing.
However, this model also requires a comprehensive approach to security.
There’s a much greater risk of data loss, as many tools and practices for physical data protection are nearly useless in the virtual setting. Virtual threats are different, that’s why you need to think beyond traditional perimeter protection.
So, if you’re using a virtualized infrastructure for data storage, keep reading.
This article discusses the risks of improper virtualized infrastructure security and talks about ways you can improve it.
Don’t Leave Your Virtualized Infrastructure to Chance
Virtualization security is crucial for every business’s security strategy. After all, we now live in a world of virtualized environments and need to apply security to all its layers.
Let’s explore three of the most common virtualization security issues.
Issue #1: External Attacks
These are a real threat to virtualized infrastructure.
If hackers enter your host-level or server management software, they can easily access other crucial parts of your system. They can create a new user, assign admin rights, and then use that power to extract or destroy your company’s sensitive data.
Issue #2: File Sharing and Copy-Pasting
Host and virtual machine (VM) sharing is normally disabled. The same goes for copy-pasting elements between the remote management console and the VM. You can tweak the default settings by tweaking the ESXi host system, but this action isn’t recommended.
Because if a hacker gains access to your management console, they’d be able to copy data outside your virtual environment or install malware into your virtual machine.
Issue #3. Viruses
Virtual machines, or VM, are prone to many attacks, with ransomware being among the most popular ones. For this reason, it’s crucial to keep regular backups of your website data and store them off-site at a place where they can’t be encrypted by hackers.
If you fail to perform backups, you may find yourself in a situation where hackers could ask you for money to decipher your data.
Restoring a VM is quite tricky even if you perform regular backups. Therefore, you need to educate your team members on alleviating the risk of getting ransomware and other viruses.
Optimizing Your Virtualized Infrastructure Securely
Now that you’re aware of the 3 common issues a business can face if they have an unprotected virtual infrastructure, here are 4 tips on bolstering its security.
Tip #1: Managing Virtual Sprawl
Virtual sprawls are often associated with growing virtual environments. The concept simply means that the more you expand, the bigger the need to keep your VMs secure. However, the number of machines can outgrow your ability to do so.
To manage your virtual sprawl, consider doing the following:
- Create an inventory of all your machines at all times
- Set up lookouts featuring multi-location monitoring
- Monitor IP addresses that have access to your VMs
- Look for table locks
- Don’t use database grant statements to give privileges to other users
- Keep both on- and off-site backups
- Assess your virtual environment regularly and determine which machines you need and which ones aren’t necessary
- Have a central log of your systems and log all hardware actions
- Create a patch maintenance schedule for all machines to keep them up to date
Tip #2: Focusing on Virtual Configuration Setup
If you use virtual servers, you risk major configuration defects.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure initial setups are free from security risks. This includes unnecessary ports, useless services, and similar vulnerabilities. Otherwise, all your virtual machines will inherit the same problems.
The truth is that many businesses have poor virtual network configurations. You can avoid being one of those by ensuring all virtual applications that call the host (and vice versa) have proper segmentation. This includes databases and all web services.
It’s also worth mentioning that most virtualization platforms only offer three switch security settings: forged transmits, MAC address changes, and promiscuous mode. There’s no protection for virtual systems that connect to other network areas.
So, make sure to investigate each virtualization platform that allows this kind of communication, including all memory leaks, copy-paste functions, and device drivers. You can also tweak the system monitoring assets to look out for these pathways.
Tip #3: Securing All Parts of the Infrastructure
It’s imperative that you properly secure all of your infrastructure’s parts. This includes its physical components (switches, hosts, physical storage, routers) and virtual and guest systems. Don’t forget about all your cloud systems as well.
When it comes to protecting different infrastructure parts, here are some things you can do:
- Install the latest firmware for your hosts. Virtualized infrastructure needs to have the latest security patches. So, keep all your VMware tools updated.
- Your active network elements such as routers, switches, and load balancers should use the latest firmware.
- Patch all operating systems with automatic updates. Schedule patch installations outside of your work hours and include automatic reboots.
- All virtualized environments should have reliable anti-malware and antivirus software installed (and regularly updated).
Tip #4: Having a Robust Backup Plan
Proper disaster recovery (DR) and backup plans are crucial in ensuring your business can continue operating after an attack. It’s because both your physical and virtual components can equally suffer from damage done by hacker attacks, hurricanes, etc.
Ideally, you want to have a DR site located at a faraway data center or in the cloud. This way, you’ll alleviate the risk of being shut for a long time if your vital data gets compromised.
Also, make sure to back up your VMs and your physical servers. Fortunately, you can back up your physical systems that operate on Windows or Linux, as well as your VMs that run on any OS.
Additionally, you want to make at least three copies of your data and store two of them in different virtual places. And make sure to keep one backup off-site.
If you want to take things to another level, you can replicate your VMs to a different data center for emergencies.
Prioritize the Security of Your Virtual Infrastructure
If you never gave much importance to virtualized infrastructure security, doing so should be your priority now. Given the number of possible threats, protecting your VMs from unauthorized data sharing, viruses, and other types of attacks is crucial.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
Master of Business Administration – Saint Bonaventure University 2011
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science – Saint Bonaventure University 2008
How did you get into the technology field?
I have always had an interest in technology. I took my first PC apart when I was 13 and have been into technology ever since.
When did you join the Databranch team?
I joined the Databranch team on March 1st, 2022
What do you like best about Databranch?
The team. We have an amazing group of highly skilled professionals on board. Working with our team to provide technology solutions for our customers is very rewarding.
How would you describe your role at Databranch?
I work with the team to ensure that we put together the best technology solutions, service, and support for our customers. As technology is an ever-changing field, staying on top of security, best practices, and the most efficient solutions for all technology needs is a major a focus.
What’s an interesting way that you use technology in your personal life?
We take advantage of smart home technology to listen to music, news, and turn things on and off.
How many computers do you own?
We have 3 desktop PCs, a laptop, and a chrome book. We also have 5 smart phones.
I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, and rooting for our favorite football team. I also have an extensive tool collection that I like to use for home projects or repairs.
We have three amazing kids. Ethan, Anna, and Lillian.
Roland (Black Labrador), Gracie (Golden Retriever), Snickers (Guinea Pig) and Jett (Guinea Pig)
Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. The reality is, cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information.
Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals.
But the truth is very different.
Hackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. Among the weakest links are printers.
The thing with printers nowadays is that they have access to your devices, network, and the internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.
Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.
Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.
Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as connected computers and networks all through a printer.
You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.
If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.
The 8 Tips
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Printers are Configured Correctly
Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you.
To start, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.
Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.
Tip #2: Inspect Print Trays Regularly
This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.
Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.
Tip #3: Install Malware and Firmware Updates
Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.
The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.
HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.
Tip #4: Limit Access to the Network
Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints but if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.
If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.
Tip #5: Update Your Printers
Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.
Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.
Tip #6: Install a Firewall
If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.
Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals.
Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.
Tip #7: Encrypt Your Storage
Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. When a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.
To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer’s hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.
Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.
You can use the tool to set up a secure password that allows printer storage encryption, remove user IDs and ex-employee access, delete documents from the print queue once they’re printed, and much more.
Tip #8: Educate Your Employees
If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.
Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.
Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company.
It’s Time to Ensure Printer Security
Printers are the most overlooked devices when it comes to security. Given how most business owners consider them as merely internal devices whose sole function is to print documents, it’s no wonder they are a weak spot security-wise.
Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.
As cybercriminals are a growing concern, each of us is responsible for protecting our data. Luckily, the tips from this article will help you bring your printer’s security to another level.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.