VoIP Hacks Are On The Rise: How To Protect Your Network

Protecting your Voice over IP (VoIP) network from hackers is becoming more challenging with recent increases in VoIP network attacks. With the importance of your business communications system, you need to protect it however you can. As long as your VoIP phones are connected to the network and the Internet, there is the risk of hacking. Hackers can do serious damage to your operations and gain access to your network more easily than you might think.

To protect your network, you need to understand how and why hacking attacks can occur with VoIP networks in the first place. Once you know how these attacks happen, you can proactively fix weaknesses in your system and address the security problems. You can gave the upper hand and strengthen your system from hacking with the right security measures.

In this article, we will review some of the potential security issues with VoIP systems. We will help you decide how to fix the weaknesses in your VoIP system by explaining some of the primary security problems, most common attack types and by offering a few possible solutions.

In this article:

  1. How Do VoIP Attacks Happen?
  2. Common VoIP Hacking Attacks
  3. How to Strengthen Your VoIP Network Security
  4. Additional VoIP Security Tips and Tricks

1. How Do VoIP Attacks Happen?

Attacks occur on VoIP systems of every protocol, from SIP to H225 to SCCP. Hackers are no longer attacking only the bigger VoIP systems within larger companies. Now, small to medium-sized businesses are also vulnerable to attack. Unfortunately, all you can really do is work to protect yourself from hacking by proactively securing your system.

These protocols are the languages with which VoIP operates, basically. Hackers choose to target their victims using these specific languages. Nearly half of all attacks are on the Session Internet Protocol (SIP), a popular VoIP protocol used on many different VoIP phone systems.

2. Common VoIP Hacking Attacks

There are several fairly common attacks to watch out for. Some hacks are more severe than others, but they should all be taken seriously. Pre-attacks, where the network is lightly attacked to reveal information about the network’s capabilities and security, are another possible threat. Once the network is evaluated, the hackers have a better idea of how to approach a larger hacking operation.

Hackers can have many different goals in mind, but taking down your VoIP network is one threat you do really want to watch for. Hackers can disrupt your business activities and damage your system. A hacking attack can successfully prevent your VoIP network from being operational, seize control of your network completely and cause other forms of damage and mayhem. Since repairing the damage can be costly, it makes sense to try and understand these attacks so you can learn to prevent them altogether.

Common VoIP Hacking Attacks:

  • Spoofing Caller ID Systems–Hackers can gain access to your VoIP network and begin gathering whatever information they can access. They can use this information in future operations or use it to send a large volume of spam calls later, depending on their goals for the hack. Hackers reach your network through your computer, your routers, IP phones or another access point within your network. With this information, they can then spam your network with unwanted calls, sell your phone numbers for use by other spam phone networks, or even steal access to your system and use it maliciously to conduct spam phone campaigns. They can change the firmware on your phones and do serious damage to your network now that they have the information they need. Leaving your IP phones with their factory-set passwords is one way this type of attack can be initiated.
  • Toll Fraud–Hackers access your VoIP network and gain information they can then use to commit fraudulent activities. They can use your network to conduct fraudulent phone campaigns and to hide their illegal phone activities, while stealing phone minutes and services from your business VoIP account in the process. They can also gain enough information to impersonate your business and create new private branch exchange (PBX) systems and obtain more VoIP services that they then have control over. They can directly harm your reputation and steal resources from your business.
  • Taking Down SIP Networks with Malicious Calls–With a large, sustained volume of fake calls, hackers can disrupt or take down your VoIP network. The strategy there is to overwhelm the network completely and break it down so it is unable to continue processing phone calls, or really doing much of anything. Essentially, this is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on a VoIP network. It overwhelms the SIP protocol and makes the network unusable.

3. How to Strengthen Your VoIP Network Security

You can strengthen your VoIP network, which can help you prevent VoIP hacking attacks. There are some common-sense strategies, such as ensuring your passwords are strong, that can help prevent a variety of attacks. Keep reading for strategies that can help protect your VoIP network and investment.

  • Use Encryption–Whenever possible, use encryption to protect your network’s communications. VoIP calls are unencrypted as they travel over the Internet, but you can use encryption in your network to improve security and add a measure of safety to your network’s operations.
  • Use a VPN–A virtual private network (VPN) can help secure your network’s presence on the Internet. You can keep information transmitted between users of your network encrypted and secure. Users can access your network offsite using a VPN and be a part of your company network even if they are located offsite, which is a significant benefit if you have remote workers, too.
  • Penetration Testing and Auditing–Regularly audit your network for security holes. Look at every connection and access point for common problems and weaknesses. Keep firmware updated regularly, set strong passwords and make sure the passwords are not set to the default, factory-created codes. You can even try hacking into your own system to test your security.
  • Train Employees–By using spam calls and emails or directly speaking with employees, hackers can gain a lot of information about your system. If you regularly train your employees on signs to watch for, information to protect and risks to the network, you may be able to prevent some of the more common problems.
  • Use Strong Passwords–Make your passwords great from the very beginning, using combinations of characters whenever possible to make the passwords harder to break by hackers. Make you do not have default passwords set, since these are easy points of entry for many hackers and can represent a significant point of weakness within your network.

4. Additional VoIP Security Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you secure your VoIP network.

  1. Update your equipment with newer devices that have next-generation security.
  2. Make sure all firmware and software you use with your network is kept updated. Regularly upgrade your software systems.
  3. Using firewalls can help you keep your system secure from outside intrusion.
  4. Ask your employees to report suspicious activity on your network and look out for possible hacking.
  5. Provide training to your employees and coworkers on how to keep information secure and your network safe while accessing it remotely.
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