Think VoIP but think carefully

Separate voice and data

The benefits of Hosted Voice, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as it’s perhaps more widely known are now broadly accepted, but for some, the full capabilities will be unachievable because they do not have a stable or fast-broadband connection.

In an ideal world, you really need ‘fibre to the cabinet’ (FTTC) as a minimum to give you the speed and data capacity required. Then you need to ensure your data network is capable of handling voice and data, with good network design critical to a stable and reliable VoIP implementation.

Important for getting the best from VoIP will be quality of Service (QoS), which refers to how your network treats voice traffic.

If information is lost or delayed, by poor broadband speed, poor network design or congestion, a noticeable drop in call quality is likely. The effects experienced will include distorted audio, dropped calls and even an annoying echo.

There are different ways to handle voice traffic; enabling QoS on your router or ignoring QoS, both of which may deliver good results. However, the best solution is to use a dedicated internet connection for your VoIP equipment and leaving data traffic on the original broadband line.

And while we’re on the subject of broadband, in an ideal world, in most commercial settings, you should insist on an FTTC broadband line as a minimum, which will have the requisite speed and capacity.

Secure your network

Having implemented VoIP, utilising your FTTC broadband line you sit back and enjoy reduced line rentals, lower call costs, easier remote working and simpler administration. But ignore the threat of the latest generation of hackers at your peril.

There is nothing more fraudsters like than a badly set-up VoIP. Not only will thieves try and route very expensive calls through your system, often by the thousand, but by cracking your voice network, they will gain access to your system and your sensitive data.

Hackers now use programmes designed to find vulnerable VoIP networks. A strong firewall is needed as any gaps in it, like an open port are all they need and the new breed of criminal does not have to be a coding genius, as many such programmes are for sale on the dark web, some even offer tech support!

When a weak point is discovered, the hacker will attempt to authenticate their access and take control of the system. This process is made easier if the system is still relying on the default password, or a simple password that cane be cracked by an automated trial process.

With the password, the hackers now also control the traffic through the system, voice and data – a scary thought. If theft, ransom or blackmail are not the priority, the hackers may initiate an attack to overload the system to cause disruption and bring everything to a halt. Or even worse.

Typically, the thieves will look for revenue creation before you twig someone is in your system and one common method is to direct your calls to a premium-rate phone number, where you’re charged per-minute above the cost of the call connection – like an adult chat number or psychic hotline.

It’s important to close unnecessary ports and keep your firewall current, with all the latest updates applied. If in doubt, talk to me and I will be happy to help.

Terry Faria, Telecommunications Manager, Quiss Technology plc

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