Voip & Unified Communications f Michael Ventimiglia hMarch 19, 2013

VoIP Installation and Security: The Blunders of Inexperience

Selecting, installing, and implementing a VoIP system can be harrowing for new users. Even while providers offer various resource pages loaded with information, it can be a bit much for some to digest. Unfortunately, this leads some to setup and install their VoIP system(s) without fully understanding it. From there, chaos reigns—i.e. workability issues, usability issues, service issues, etc. Additionally, improper installation of your VoIP system can open your system to security risks such as fraud. Much like toll fraud, which is the unauthorized breach of a system, VoIP fraud occurs when your self-installed system is hacked and its resources are used without consent. This not only results in a breach of your system, but could also cost you substantially if services are used continuously. While this risk is present, even with professionally managed and monitored systems, self-installation, if done poorly/improperly, only increases the likelihood of this happening.

VoIP systems not only offer an expansive set of features, but cost efficiency as well; therefore, users who may not fully understand the system often rush to implement it. Blinded by the advantages, users may elect an installer who is not fully qualified to get the system up and running immediately. This will ultimately lead to system vulnerability. Though there are redundancies in systems—i.e. passwords and protocols—many do not factor in the proper assigning and updating; therefore, passwords, user names, and other protocols are often subject to declassification without the proper management. This can again lead to big problems for your system—i.e. security breach. That being said, why not avoid the problem altogether?

When installing a VoIP system, users should think long term. Though it may take more time, hiring the right people to setup your system can save tons of aggravation and money in the long run. For example, if an inexperienced user installs the VoIP system and it is hacked, users can face a very costly bill on top of having to adapt their system for new securities. Another pitfall of shoddy installation is using an employee familiar with the system to install it. Sure, said person is capable, but what happens when he or she leaves the company? Who will manage the system then? It is important to have a knowledge base to avoid situations like this. Most business VoIP providers offer a knowledge base along with other valuable resources (white papers, guides, videos, etc.) and extensive customer support. They also aid in the installation of the system; therefore, users should take full advantage of these options.

Separate from security, inexperienced users also pose a threat to the functionality of the system as well. For example, if a user is moving from a traditional system to a VoIP system, odds are they don’t know the proximity of their call patterns; therefore, these users can not accurately predict the amount of calls to be made, as well as how much bandwidth is needed. With insufficient bandwidth, the system will be crippled. To avoid this, users should reach out to providers. Various VoIP providers will help users find the solution that is right for them. They also aid in installing, managing, and maintaining said systems. With qualified and knowledgeable help, users’ VoIP systems are much more likely to function as desired.

Though risks—especially toll fraud/VoIP fraud—are always present, users should do everything within their power to reduce the likelihood of risks. Greg Massel, MD of Switch Telecom, states, “The best option is for companies to engage the services of an experienced VoIP provider that can properly set up a fully managed VoIP PBX solution.” VoIP systems are equipped with a number of trappings that entice users. This may cause some to be over zealous and ultimately rush to install, implement, and deploy their system. To avoid the hassle and reduce the risks, I’d highly recommend at the very least consulting qualified, experienced personnel in installing and managing your system. Again, it might not be as quick, but it will definitely help in the long run.

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