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The Importance of Security in Cloud PBX Phone Systems: Best Practices and Tips

Jack El KhouryCISO
May 18, 2023
learn all about the importance of security for you cloud pbx

Cloud PBX phone systems are becoming increasingly popular for customer-facing businesses of all sizes. The internet-based calling software is cost-effective, scalable, and equipped with advanced features customizable to any market industry.

Essentially, a cloud PBX phone system is a communication solution that allows your business to make and receive calls over the internet, eliminating the need for traditional landlines. However, as with any cloud-based system, new security vulnerabilities, like cyber-attacks and phishing scams, pop up. 

In this article, we’ll explore the various threats that can affect cloud PBX phone systems and discover the best practices for protecting yourself against them. With suitable technical security protocols, monitoring and management, and training and awareness, your communications will be fully guarded.

Potential Security Threats in Cloud PBX Phone Systems

1. Hacking

One of the most significant threats to cloud PBX business software is hacking. Hacking is the process of using different tools and technologies to access unauthorized data. Hackers can and do exploit the vulnerabilities in your data infrastructure. 

They will surreptitiously use the information they gain access to for fraudulent purposes. Typically, hackers will put the data up for ransom, offering to sell the personal details for a large amount of money, claiming they will release the information to the public if the sum is not received.

2. Malware

Malware is technically short for malicious software, giving you an insight into its intended purpose. It’s a computer program that was designed specifically to exploit computer systems and networks. Types of malware include ransomware, spyware, adware, worms, trojans, and botnets.

types of malware your pbx phone system could be vulnerable to

Malware can affect your cloud PBX solution in multiple ways, including hijacking your computer. Certain malware can take control of your operations and send out spam. It can also encrypt your files and demand payment for their release.

3. Social Engineering

Social engineering occurs when individuals use psychological manipulation tactics to trick employees into revealing confidential information or performing potentially harmful actions. Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering. 

If a social engineer is able to trick one of your agents using your cloud PBX software, it could result in a severe data breach. Ultimately, you could lose customer trust and need to deal with legal liabilities and financial penalties.

The Ramifications of Security Breaches

Security breaches can affect your business communications in a myriad of ways. Hackers and frauds can steal your customers’ sensitive data like credit card numbers and personally identifiable information. They can also gain access to insider trading secrets and other financial details that put your company at risk. 

In addition to risking your customers’ trust, security breaches can severely undermine your productivity and even put you out of business. Instead of focusing on calling clients and reaching out to new leads, you’ll have to invest all of your resources into mitigating the issue.

In recent years, several high-profile security breaches involving cloud PBX systems have occurred. For instance, in 2019, a cybercriminal group targeted several US and UK-based businesses. The hackers made hundreds of fraudulent calls using the compromised systems, resulting in financial losses and irreparable reputation damage to the affected companies.

Best Practices for Securing Cloud PBX Phone Systems

Fortunately, there are several ways you can protect your cloud-based PBX software from security threats and malicious hackers. As they’ve discovered new ways to infiltrate your phone systems, security experts have similarly found more robust means of protecting them.

1. Choose a Reputable Cloud PBX Provider

Businesses should choose a provider that has robust security measures in place, such as end-to-end encryptions for their solution. For example, CommPeak, a leading cloud PBX phone system provider, offers military-grade encryptions and adheres to strict international security standards. 

2. Use Strong, Complex Passwords

The time it takes for hackers to guess your password is directly impacted by how complex your passwords are. Security company Hive Systems determined that it takes an infiltrator roughly 4 seconds to guess your password if it’s only seven characters long. However, when the length is doubled, it would take the hacker about 1 million years! 

The longer, the more complicated your PBX phone system’s passwords are, the less chance there is of them being hacked.

3. Implement Regular Software Updates

Software update responsibilities should be both on the PBX provider’s and your business’s sides. Cloud PBX vendors should regularly release software upgrades, including security patches and bug fixes. A lousy provider never updates their systems. 

regularly upgrade your cloub pbx phone system to keep it secure

Businesses also need to update their internal systems consistently. By keeping your own infrastructure up-to-date, you’ll increase your protection circles. Ultimately, it’s up to both parties to ensure their programs and software are operating in their latest versions.

4. Administer Access Controls

Businesses should implement access control measures such as role-based access control and least privilege access to restrict access to sensitive information and features. 

Cloud PBX providers should also offer the possibility for your managers to create role-based control within the software. Only the necessary parties should have access to the relevant information.

Technical Security Measures for Cloud PBX Phone Systems

In addition to the practices your company should follow, there are technical security measures to apply to secure your cloud PBX against hackers and other vulnerabilities.

1. Encryptions

Encryption is a critical security measure that any business should establish for their cloud-based activities, whether they use a PBX or not. In short, encryptions convert your data into a secret text that protects it from unauthorized access. Only those with the decryption key can convert the secret text back to its original form. 

Encryption can easily be used for VoIP calls, messages, and other communication-related data.

2. Access Controls

Access controls include firewalls, intrusion detection methods, and prevention systems. They can be applied on the network level but can also be instated on the physical level. For instance, you need to ensure that your data centers are protected with 24/7 security cameras. 

Your business can also use network segmentation for its cloud PBX phone system, which will isolate the most sensitive assets of your business.

3. Authentication

There are various authentication protocols your business should follow to avoid a data breach. These include digital certification, SSL/TSL, and VPNs. Each of these technologies helps to verify the identity of users and devices trying to connect to your PBX system.

4. Secure Endpoints

When operating cloud-based PBX software, your CTO should ensure that all endpoints, including computers, mobile devices, and VoIP phones, are secure.

This means using strong passwords, making regular updates, and limiting user access, among other practices. Indeed, there should be explicit protocols for employees that need to operate company hardware.

5. Network Devices

Keeping your network routers and switches secure is essential to ensure the confidentiality of your business’s internet resources. You should always monitor your network activity and conduct regular security audits, even if everything appears okay. Use intrusion detection systems to block suspicious activity and potential security threats.

Monitoring and Managing Cloud PBX Phone Systems

always make sure to monitor your cloud pbx phone system to detect and respond to security threats

Reviewing your systems and making the necessary tweaks is essential for maintaining the security of your cloud PBX phone system. Real-time monitoring and alerting can help your business promptly detect and respond to security threats. If handled in a timely manner, you should be able to avoid any irreversible damage. 

Additionally, effective PBX management will help ensure systems remain updated and security patches are applied promptly. Again, even if you believe that your operations are running perfectly, it’s always a good idea to monitor your software on a consistent basis.

Some tips you should consider are:

  • Real-Time Monitoring: Real-time monitoring can help businesses detect potential security threats promptly. Monitoring activity should include reviewing your PBX reports for unusual call patterns, network traffic, and user activity. 
  • Alerting: Your company should set up automatic alerts that notify them of potential security threats. If there’s ever an occurrence that’s out of the ordinary, it’s worth looking into. Talk to your tech team about setting up these alerts. 
  • Regular Audits: Regular audits of your cloud PBX phone system can help identify vulnerabilities and security risks. Audits tasks can include penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security assessments. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 
  • System Backups: Regular system backups can help businesses recover from security breaches or other disasters. Businesses should ensure that their backups are secure and up to date.

Training and Awareness for Cloud PBX Phone Systems

Employee training and awareness are essential for securing your cloud-based PBX software. Employees should be trained on how to identify and prevent security threats, how to use the system securely, and how to report potential security breaches. 

Some tips for conducting security awareness training include:

  • Regular Training: Employees should receive regular training on security best practices and the risks associated with cloud PBX phone systems. At a minimum, you should hold training sessions twice a year. There should also be mandatory security training for all new employees.
  • Role-Based Training: Different employees naturally have different roles and responsibilities, and their security training should reflect this. For example, employees with access to sensitive information should receive additional training on properly protecting this data.
  • Consistent Enforcement: Businesses should have security policies in place that employees are required to follow. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed.

Safety First Communications

Cloud PBX phone systems offer businesses many benefits and will ultimately help connect your employees to more customers worldwide at cost-effective rates. However, these valuable systems also come with security risks. 

To protect themselves from threats, these businesses should follow best practices like choosing a trustworthy PBX provider, enforcing strong passwords, and implementing robust access control measures. By prioritizing security, you can enjoy all the benefits while ensuring your data is completely protected.

Discover the Most Reliable PBX Provider

Looking for a reliable cloud PBX provider that can help you manage and monitor your customer communications? Look no further than CommPeak. Our advanced cloud-hosted PBX system can help you maximize your results while ensuring your system’s and data’s security. Visit our product page to learn more about our virtual PBX solutions for businesses.

If you’re ready to get started, contact our sales team now.

Still have some questions?