Telephones Require Security, Too
Telephones were created to transmit person-to-person communication at a longer distance. Everyone knows that. It’s also expected by most people talking on phones that the conversation is only between themselves and the person or persons at the other end. But we in the cybersecurity world know that’s not always the case. We know that if communications are happening, there are always third parties trying to intercept those communications. Therefore, security is just as important for your telephony as it is for your networks, users, and other systems.
For office use, two types of phone systems are the most plentiful: hardwired landlines (also called PSTN, or public switched telephone networks) and virtual VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Which is more secure: landline or VoIP? Let’s explore further.
The oldest and more traditional method of telephony is the landline—wires literally stretching all over the world, physically connecting handset to handset (with all the switches, terminals, cables, etc. in between, of course). It’s a system and infrastructure that’s been built up over one hundred years and works via circuit switching (a dedicated link between the two callers that exists as long as the call takes place). By having an actual physical connection, landlines are quite secure. In order to intercept communications, the wires themselves must be hacked into. This is not impossible, but it is quite an undertaking. However, to get this innate security, one must pay for the infrastructure by way of taxes, per-call fees, and other applicable charges. Also, this technology is limited to only voice calls—no other type of data (SMS, video, other file types) can be transmitted.
VoIP calls have the curse and blessing of traveling over the Internet. VoIP calls are more feature rich and can transmit voice, video, and files. Because calls are placed over IP, there are little to no fees per call. However, VoIP calls work via packet switching, in which the information is digitally sent over the Internet in sections via many different and ever-changing routes (to be reassembled when they reach the end caller). As this article on Lifewire points out, “It is easier . . . to intercept VoIP data thereby breaching your privacy.” The articles goes on to say, “Many of the nodes through which the VoIP packets pass are not optimized for VoIP communications, which renders the channel vulnerable.”
That was the curse part. The blessing comes in the form of cybersecurity. Since VoIP calls are traveling over the Internet, you can protect them using all the cybersecurity methods you use for your organization, networks, and users. Firewalls, encryption, VPNs, and virus and malware protection (yes, you can get malware from a VoIP call) can enrobe and strengthen the security of VoIP telephony. These security measures are just not available for landline phone systems.
One Final Warning
There is one other way to intercept any type of phone call, possibly one you thought about in the section about landlines, and that is eavesdropping. Yes, no matter how much security you put in place, someone simply could be listening in at your door or through an electronic device. This means the final telephony security measure is your own discretion. Are you in a secure location for a call? Is there the possibility that devices could be hidden around you? Is there anywhere more secure you could place the call? Along with the type of telephony your organization is using and its intrinsic and additional security measures, being aware of your surroundings is the extra step which will help your phone calls stay secure.
Fognigma’s telephony solutions take VoIP security to the next level, featuring leading-edge technology and the utmost in communications protection. To learn more how our solutions can help your organization or to schedule a demonstration of them, contact us today.