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Reduce your Phone Bill

SIP Trunking sounds geeky, just think of it as savings!

I stayed close to home this past holiday season. Rather than fly across the country to visit family and friends, I ushered in the New Year with my loved ones via video conferencing. I also caught up with my older relatives who don’t have Internet access via the phone.

I have a pretty good package with my Internet and long-distance telephone service provider. But all the video conferencing and cross-country telephone calls got me thinking about how communications costs can mount for small businesses. This is especially true if your small business has separate contracts for data and voice. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to have all your voice and data traffic running on one line? Read More »

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6 Ways to Protect Your Voice Data

Minimize data loss due to security threats by making sure you have the right measures in place

A couple weeks ago, Dawn Brister discussed the four most common threats to your IP phone system. Now that you know what the risks are, it’s time talk about how to protect your voice-over-IP (VoIP) network.

VoIP offers plenty of benefits to small businesses; unfortunately, it also presents many opportunities for hackers to cause harm to your voice network. IP-based voice networks are vulnerable to the same risks as data networks. But you can use many of the same security techniques and technologies for your VoIP network that you may already be using on your data network.

The Information Systems Control Journal of ISACA, an independent association that provides education on information systems assurance and security, has a useful article about security within VoIP networks.

Following are six tips for securing your VoIP network and voice data:

  • Lock up your servers: As with your servers and other central IT equipment, make sure your VoIP servers are under lock and key.
  • Encrypt voice traffic: To avoid unauthorized access to calls and unauthorized changes to voice messages and other VoIP content, encrypt your voice traffic. All good VoIP systems should have built-in encryption capabilities to protect against such threats as man-in-the-middle attacks and unauthorized snooping of voice data.
  • Install firewalls: Since VoIP traffic and data traffic all travel on the same physical network, protecting your data network helps protect your VoIP network. For example, the Cisco SA500 Series Security Appliances and Unified Communications 500 Series have security features to protect the entire network, both voice and data traffic, and use VLANs to virtually separate the two traffic flows from each other on the same physical network.
  • Separate voice and data traffic: The ISACA Journal article recommends using separate servers for your voice and data traffic. This way, you can minimize the risk of voice and data loss in the event that your business is the target of a distributed-denial-of-service attack.
  • Filter unauthorized traffic: Configure your switches, routers and firewalls to monitor and filter your network for unusual voice and data activities. For example, voice traffic should not be allowed on your data network and vice versa.
  • Setup dial plans and user profiles: You can use VoIP system features to identify users, the type of calls being made and restrict unwanted traffic, such as outbound international calls. Traffic limits can also be set to ensure call quality and maximum voice and data network performance.  These features can also be set to log caller activities and events.

In addition to these measures, you should also put strong passwords in place for your VoIP servers. You should also make sure you to sign up for updates to your VoIP server operating system from the manufacturer. These updates often fix security vulnerabilities that may have been found in the software and should be installed as soon as you receive the alerts.

Following these steps should protect your voice data and ensure that your VoIP network runs smoothly. What measures have you employed to secure your VoIP network?

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Voice security is just as important as data security for small businesses

Learn the four most common threats that put your IP phone system at risk

There’s a big story about phone hacking that has kept newspapers in the U.K. and U.S. busy over the past month. Some former reporters of a popular tabloid newspaper in the U.K. have claimed that hacking into the phones of celebrities and members of the Royal Family was rife at the paper. The publication of conversations and messages between celebrities may be fun to read, but the unauthorized interception of communications inside businesses is no laughing matter.

The security of your small business phone system is just as important as the security of your network. Consider if someone hacked into your phone system and compromised your company voicemail. What could they learn? You need to be as diligent about voice security as you are with data security, particularly if you use IP telephony.

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VoIP Technology has Plenty to Offer Small Businesses

IP-based phones can reduce costs and improve customer service for a better bottom line

Have you ever played the game of “telephone,” where you pass a message from one person to the next to see how much the message changes by the time it gets to the last person? Garbled communications, although funny in that context, are not amusing in business. And like mixed messages and miscommunication, a traditional PBX phone system may be holding your small business back. They’re often hard to use and manage and, in some cases, provide inferior call quality. An IP-based phone system can help your company cut costs, increase flexibility, and improve communications--all of which can give your company a competitive edge. As a result, more and more companies are taking advantage of IP-based phone systems. In-Stat predicts that 79% of U.S. businesses will be using VoIP technology by 2013.

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Unified Communications: It’s Not Too Big for Small Business

July 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm PST

Real-time collaboration and communications tools improve employee productivity and customer service.

It’s happened to all of us, and probably more times than we care to remember: You need to talk to a colleague on an important matter but you just can’t reach him. You leave voicemails, you send emails, and you roam the cubicle maze asking if anyone has seen or heard from him. Finally, the guy who sits next to him says, “Oh, he left on vacation yesterday and won’t be back for two weeks.”

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