Businesses rely on their unified communications technology more than many executives realize. These systems help unite geographically separated employees, spurring collaboration through features like live chat and presence, file and screen sharing, as well as conference calling.
However, such an important platform within the enterprise is sure to attract malicious parties. UC solutions are leveraged to create and transmit some of the most sensitive data a business deals with. Without proper security measures, UC – especially when leveraged via mobile devices – can open up a range of dangerous security threats.
Thankfully, there are a few measures you can utilize to help ensure that your company's UC technology remains safe. Let's take a look at the best practices your organization should adopt to support secure communications:
Understand the threat environment
Before seeking specific areas to secure, it's imperative that those in charge of the network, corporate communications and overall security know what they're up against. As noted, threats abound when it comes to enterprise communications. These platforms have become incredibly attractive for hackers thanks to the sensitive business assets they support.
"Most businesses need to increase their management and monitoring of UC devices."
In fact, according to a 2017 survey from Osterman Research, most businesses need to increase their management and monitoring of UC devices. Overall, almost one-third of all businesses noted that they had "lost control" of a UC-enabled device during that endpoint's lifecycle. What's more, nearly half – 45 percent – of businesses reported problems when it came to the effective monitoring and troubleshooting of their UC supporting devices. An additional 38 percent experienced issues with patching and upgrading their UC devices.
Taken individually, these issues can create significant security problems. But, as Osterman Research found, many of these challenges overlap within today's enterprises, spurring even greater security concerns.
"Decision makers are quite often choosing to ignore IT's challenges in managing UC devices and are not willing to provide the resources necessary to make UC device management easier or more efficient," the report stated. "Because of this, end users are more readily willing to abandon the UC system in favor of their personal mobile devices, which are not typically governed as carefully with respect to both call quality and security."
For this reason, UC security should now fall within executives' top priorities.
Maintain oversight of UC activities and devices
As noted, a top challenge related to UC security involves a lack of oversight and management. One effective way to address this issue is with a robust, overarching management policy that helps IT stakeholders and managers keep a closer eye on employees' UC-enabled devices and activities.
For instance, this policy should include staunch visibility into software licensing, as well as the devices on which these licenses exist. In this way, the company's IT supervisors can help reduce shadow IT activity, and better manage the security patches of devices being used to access the company's UC platform.
Put proper network security in place
Before a malicious actor targets a UC platform, the hacker will need to break into the underlying network first. And because the network provides the gateway for not only UC access, but other mission-critical platforms as well, it's imperative to have the right security measures in place to govern this asset.
As TechTarget contributor Brien Posey pointed out, network administrators should treat UC networks with the same specialized security that they put in place for the business's other networks. Each has its own specific protection needs that should be considered and addressed.
"I believe that the key to securing unified communications is to treat each aspect – VoIP, IM, presence, peer-to-peer collaboration – as a separate entity and address its specific security implications individually, even though there will almost certainly be some convergence between some of the various technologies," Posey wrote.
Taking this approach helps prevent threats against certain UC functions from falling through the cracks, while also ensuring a more holistic, end-to-end protection strategy.
Include strong access protection
Another beneficial way to support UC security is with robust authentication measures that prevent any unauthorized users from accessing the solution. Each individual employee utilizing the UC platform should have his or her own username and password. What's more, your organization should also leverage two-factor authentication wherever possible. This puts an extra layer of security in place and prevents threats by requiring an additional code or token to enable access.
ITBusinessEdge also suggested leveraging a virtual private network to provide secure access to remote workers or employees who are traveling for business. In this way, even when users are away from the office, their UC activities are well protected.
Overall, UC security is imperative and deserves the focus and attention of company executives and IT stakeholders. Many security benefits will come built-in to a robust UC solution, like that provided by Teo Technologies. To find out more about the safeguarding measures included in our UC solutions and how these contribute to protecting corporate communications, contact Teo Technologies today.