Protecting Small Business Phone Systems

Protecting Small Business Phone Systems

The good news about broadband-based small business phone systems is that they offer powerful calling features in an affordable package, but the corresponding bad news is that because they are connected to the Internet, VoIP phone systems are increasingly becoming targets of hackers.

VoIP phones are small computers and nodes on an Internet-connected network, meaning they can be vulnerable to a variety of online threats. Some are similar to those faced by computers and servers, while others are unique to Internet telephony.

Either way, a few basic steps can help you protect your company from fraud and hackers while allowing you to reap the benefits of VoIP phone systems to your small business.

Phone Threats

The most common threat faced by small-business Internet phone systems is toll fraud that is committed with automated hacking tools. Once hackers gain access to an Internet-based phone system, a common scheme is dialing a series of calls to international destinations (most commonly premium calling services).

Because these calls are typically made outside of normal business hours, many small businesses don't realize they have been victimized until the next billing cycle begins. Losses can vary depending on how long the scheme goes on and how active the hackers are, but charges running into the thousands of dollars are common.

In other schemes, hackers attempt to use access to a small business network via a phone system vulnerability to attack servers or other devices connected to the network.

Protecting Your Company

As with other types of online fraud, small businesses have to take a number of relatively simple steps to defend their phone systems against hackers and fraud attempts:

  • The first and most important thing to do is to change default network passwords. Factory passwords for specific phone systems are easy to discover online, and companies that fail to change these default passwords are, in effect, asking for trouble.
  • If you don't need international calling features, turn them off. This simple step can help you avoid a number of expensive phone calls.
  • Consider upgrading older phone systems that may be outdated, or may lack advanced security features.
  • Pay attention to your phone bills to identify any unusual charges or activity patterns

By taking simple steps to secure your small business phone system, you can enjoy the benefits of Internet telephony without encountering some of its nastier surprises.