Why Security is Important with VoIP

Security is one of the most frequently discussed topics, yet the importance of securing VoIP is hard to overstate. Over the course of the next six weeks, we’ll discuss VoIP Security specific to SIP Trunking and Remote Phone applications.

Due to the growth of VoIP, it’s important to understand some of the common threats. Every device and service are in part responsible for providing a secure VoIP solution, but there are a few different ways to deploy a secure VoIP solution.

Traditional telephony delivered via analog or digital involves transmission over some physical medium. Security attacks to traditional telephony such as eavesdropping, require physical presence with access to the physical lines.

Security Best Practices

Toll Fraud over traditional telephony has several forms, one common attack was to hairpin telecom traffic. This is when inbound calls into a voice network were sent back out to an alternate destination. Now that Voice Networking has merged with Computer Networking there’s an “End of Geography”. Physical presence is no longer required to gain access to a voice system. Computer Networking is an OPEN network system, as any IP Address can connect with any other IP Address.

IP Protocol (IPv4 RFC 791 & IPv6 RFC 8200) and IP Addresses are fundamental in both public and private networks used in everyday communications for both voice and data. This leads to computer networking attacks having tremendously more access and tools available to conduct malicious attacks on VoIP infrastructures.

Security Best Practices

The hackers’ objective is to search through the range of IPv4 and IPv6 IP Addresses looking for VoIP Services to target with other forms of attacks. Once a VoIP Service is discovered, other types of attacks can then follow. It’s best to understand the tools and methods used to discover VoIP Services and simply detect these methods and not acknowledge the VoIP Service back to the hacker. If the hacker does not know there’s VoIP service, they’re most likely going to overlook and move on.

If you enjoyed this blog, and would like to learn more about Security Best Practices for VoIP, download our whitepaper here: sangoma.com/voip-security-best-practices/

Choosing the Right IP Phone: Part 2 – IT & Business Manager Features

In Part 1 of our blog, Choosing the Right IP Phone, we discussed how to choose an IP phone based on end user features. This blog will focus on choosing an IP phone from the viewpoint of IT administrators and business managers. When IT administrators or business managers choose an IP phone for their organization, end user features are certainly a consideration in order to keep their staff happy and productive.

Features such as conference calling, call forwarding etc. are significant to the selection process, ease of deployment, maintenance and end user control also hold a lot of weight. Since they are responsible for managing their business’ phone system, administrators are looking for IP phones which provide features the employees need, along with the dependability and ease of deployment.

Ease of Deployment

There are a few features to look for when thinking about easy deployment of IP phones within an organization.

First, it is important to understand if your workforce is located remotely or all within the same office. If it is the latter, most vendors will support DHCP provisioning and/or PnP provisioning, which is very useful in tightly locked down networks. If staff is located remotely, a phone that supports redirection service is beneficial as it allows phones to be automatically provisioned as soon as they are plugged into an internet connection regardless of their location in the world. It is important to note the security mechanisms the manufacturer has in place, since many IP phone vendors simply rely on MAC address validation, which means hackers can pretend to be that phone and create toll fraud and cost your business a lot of money.

Also, for remote installations, VPN support is a useful feature as it not only creates a level of security between the phone and the business phone system, but also simplifies the configuration for the administrator by keeping the audio and signaling routed together to/from the phone system.

Maintenance

As businesses grow or consolidate, new employees arrive or change roles, resulting in the need for IP phone settings to be constantly updated. It is important that the chosen IP phone can be quickly provisioned from a central location so that the administrator can eliminate the requirement of traveling onsite. This is beneficial when adding new employees to a group or adding an entire department and groups of phones. Also, the ability to quickly validate phone settings and update firmware and security on a global and granular level is important as well.

End User Control

An IT administrator’s time is important, and the more time spent enabling and configuring features on behalf of an end user, the less resources are available to tend to other IT issues. Features such as call forwarding, follow me and conference bridges should be accessible by the end user. Business manager features like checking call queue stats, or changing time conditions, should not require IT support. Unless there are specific security policies in place, empowering the end user is the best approach to maximizing the productivity of phone system administrators as well and the end user.

Compatibility

Last, but not least, verify that not only is the IP phone supported by the business phone system, but that it is compatible with all the features intended for use. A checklist should include some questions such as:

  • Will the IP phone integrate with the current UC features the phone system is providing or will it provide further advantages?
  • Is the IP phone supported within the phone system’s central provisioning tool and support all the adjustable parameters available?
  • Will the IP phone support end user devices such as wireless headsets or Bluetooth for mobile connectivity?

Sangoma’s s-Series IP Phones

For businesses using FreePBX and PBXact phone systems, Sangoma IP phones provide ALL the above-mentioned features, and more. For provisioning, Sangoma’s redirection service allows remote users to fully provision new phones simply by plugging them into the internet, without any IT assistance what-so-ever, other than having their extension setup within the phone system itself. And since each phone is factory imaged with a unique identification key, there is no worry about hackers taking advantage of your phone system. Built-in VPN also takes care of security and setup challenges.
Sangoma s705 IP Phone

Sangoma’s IP phones are the most tightly integrated IP phones for FreePBX and PBXact. They come with over a dozen applications (coined ‘PhoneApps’) that empower the end user with advanced feature control. They allow the user to completely control features directly from the LCD display and programmable button, such as Call forwarding, 5-way conferencing, hot-desking, Presence, Time Conditions and more. For full details on PhoneApps including demo videos visit: https://www.sangoma.com/products/phoneapps/

Since the s-Series phones are designed specifically for FreePBX and PBXact, there is 100% compatibility with the phone system, not to mention the added value of enhanced features they provide. IT and business managers can efficiently manage user’s phones, everything from pushing new firmware to re-configuring individual programmable buttons, centrally from the phone system and without ever needing to reboot the phones too.

When deciding to purchase IP phones for your business, it is important to consider the right balance of end user features as well as those for the administrators of the phone system.
For more information on Sangoma s-Series IP phones for FreePBX and PBXact visit: https://www.sangoma.com/products/phones/

Choosing the Right IP Phone: Part 1 – End User Features

Choosing an IP Phone for your business can be an overwhelming task when considering today’s extensive market offerings. It’s difficult to identify the clear ‘winner’ when most makes and models offer similar hardware specifications when compared to their class, such as large color displays, multiple programmable buttons, HD voice, speakerphone and more line extensions than you’ll ever need.

So, playing the numbers game down a data sheet is clearly not the correct way to make a selection, but then how do you make the right choice?

The compelling differences between IP phone vendors becomes evident when focusing on the level of integration they have with the phone system (or PBX) they are paired with. Typically, IP phones designed by the same manufacturer as the phone system provide the highest level of integration because all the time and money is spent perfecting the combination. This allows the IP phone to leverage the full software capabilities of that phone system, enabling phone users with an advanced level of features. Check back soon for a future blog post where we will be discussing phone system features.

For businesses using FreePBX or PBXact phone systems, the IP phones that have the tightest level of integration are Sangoma s-Series IP phones, since they are all designed to work together and made by the same manufacturer – Sangoma Technologies. The s-Series IP phones offer users many advanced features and in fact go even a step further to offer some very unique features not seen on the market today.

Some of Sangoma’s s-Series IP phone unique features are:

BLF (Busy Lamp Field) Long & Short Press: The ability to long press or short press BLF extensions to have customized actions. For example, you can program a BLF extension so that it can intercom the extension if idle state, or go straight to voicemail on busy state, by simply short pressing the BLF extension. BLF Long & Short Press Features Guide

5-way Conference Calling with Leader Drop-off: Allows users to intuitively add up to 5 participants on a phone call. Great for taking care of business right away instead of having to schedule a conference call to invite your parties. The conference leader can even disconnect from the call without affecting others on the call. More on Conference Calling

Phone Apps: Advanced phone applications allowing users to control most popularly used features using the display and navigation buttons. Think of PhoneApps as having full-screen control to manage each of the tools most commonly used, such as DND, call-forwarding, conferencing, which completely eliminate the need to remember feature codes. This saves users and businesses time and money. List of Phone Apps & Demos

UC Intelligent Features: Most of the features users control from their IP phone are actually adjusted on the phone system! This keeps all the intelligence with the phone system (and not locally on the phone) so that it is able to do things such as: update all the user’s other devices when they update their presence settings to Do-Not-Disturb; send voicemail to the user’s extension if a call is forwarded to the user’s alternate number which goes unanswered…etc. Many of the other manufactures’ phone features are controlled locally on the phone, leaving the phone system unaware of those change, which spells unexpected phone events for users. What is UC?

UCP Integration: Ability to customize Sangoma IP phone programmable buttons and PhoneApp settings directly from the User Control Panel of FreePBX and PBXact, allowing users to customize the look and feel of their s-Series phones without the need for IT support. Check Out UCP for EndPoint Manager

So, which is the right IP phone for you? It all depends on what type of solution you are looking for. If you are looking for a basic phone any phone will do, but if you are looking for a solution to help users be more productive, save your business time and provide staff and customers the best experience possible, then it’s the IP phone that best utilizes its ecosystem.

For more information on Sangoma IP Phones for FreePBX or PBXact visit: https://www.sangoma.com/products/phones/

It’s Time to Improve Your Workplace Collaboration

Author: Leo D’Alessandro – Product Marketing Manager, Sangoma

By now, over 40% of businesses have implemented VoIP (Voice-Over-IP) technology within their communication infrastructure, helping themselves save significant costs on dial-tone, but are they truly leveraging all the benefits that VoIP brings to their entire organization?1

VoIP allows businesses to consolidate their infrastructure to operate over a single type of connection, IP (Internet Protocol), which effectively provides them the opportunity of UC (unified communications). This means the ability of unifying employee collaboration and productivity tools into one location, such as instant messaging (chat), voice, mobility features, desktop sharing and web/video conferencing. Here are some of the benefits of UC in the workplace:

  • Companies save on average 32 minutes per day per employee due to increased success rate of employees reaching their colleagues on the first try2
  • Enterprises of 100 employees save up to 191 company-wide hours per day or, 49,660 hours/year3
  • 77% increase in productivity when companies invested in UC technology to promote remote working4

As businesses grow and more projects are spread across multiple teams, accessing these tools from many different locations will hinder performance and productivity. Hence collaboration in the workplace is very important.

Collaboration provides a greater level of flexibility where staff are able to work outside of traditional 9-5 hours, from home, or from the office, from multiple devices, all while staying connected with their colleagues. And this fits with the lifestyle of today’s young professionals. Many studies have shown that the best productivity occurs when employees are not ‘chained’ to their desk and when their creativity shines, which could be after work or while away from their desk. It also improves remote worker engagement as all staff, remote or not, benefit from the same real-time communication tools, which effectively produces better results for the company.

Sangoma’s Zulu UC is the collaboration and productivity solution for businesses using FreePBX and PBXact phone systems, providing users with seamless integration of all the popular UC tools, all in one platform. It is centered around user interaction, creating a much more efficient experience for one-to-one, and team communication.

Zulu UC Benefits

Enhanced Conversations
Discuss project goals with colleagues using one-to-one chat or create a room for group chat with your teams. And when the conversation needs to break off into a phone call or screen-share, it’s a click away. All the conversations and file uploads are saved in history for quick reference, using the intuitive search bar feature.

Zulu-Collaboration

Mobile & Remote Worker Friendly

The integrated desktop client allows users to move around offices and work offsite while having their extension follow them. It is also perfect for environments without desk-phones, allowing users to make/receive calls directly from their workstation and popular headsets.

The iOS and Android mobile client provides an even higher level of flexibility for colleagues needing to stay “connected” when away from the office, without their workstation available.

The presence control feature allows users to update their availability status, which updates their status across all of their devices, so that no matter where a user is attempted to be reached, availability will be known at all times.

Zulu-Collaboration

Screen-pop, CRM Integration & Click-to-call
Helpdesk staff will appreciate the seamless integration of screen-pop on inbound calls as well as click-to-call phone numbers which are directly on websites and within email clients. And with CRM integration all phone call details are pushed from the PBX to CRM.

Zulu UC is enabled by simply installing the module within FreePBX / PBXact (just like any other module) and managed from the standard User Management module, making it very easy for IT managers to implement UC within their environment.

Join the Zulu UC Beta program by visiting wiki.sangoma.com/display/ZU/Zulu+3+Beta


1. Eastern Management Group
2. MegaPath Blog
3. visual.ly
4. CoSo Cloud Survey

Why isn’t the term ‘Self-Serve’ part of your business phone system?

Today’s society has become completely self-serve. How we interact with consumer products and services has opened up into a plethora of methods, empowering the consumer. The consumer can now log-in to personal online accounts, purchase and manage services without a single phone call or visit to a store front; they can now pay for products and services from their mobile device using technologies such as NFC and Apple Pay; they can transfer funds from the comfort of their electronic devices without requiring visiting the bank, and the list goes on.

This trend of empowering the consumer provides benefits to both the consumer and manufacturer. The consumer benefits from becoming more productive in their daily activities and the manufacturer benefits from selling more product and service based on this fact, as well save on support costs as the consumer have access to the same tools.

So why isn’t this trend as inclusive with the telecommunication industry? For example, in a typical office environment, an employee still requires the assistance from their IT personnel for things like conference phone call setup and management, or to adjust their extension features. Another example is an employee deciding to work from home on a given day, still require IT to setup their tools and access. Or from a consumer point of view, if a business wants to purchase a cloud based phone systems or SIP trunks there is no completely automated self-serve method to do so, without waiting for a response from the provider, or requiring assistance to configure the service.

Self-serve would benefit the telecommunication industry in the following ways:

  • Office staff become more productive as they have access to all communication mediums at their fingertips, without waiting for IT permission
  • Increase remote office work, as staff can become more mobile and thus accomplish more work
  • Businesses can purchase telephony service through online portals, when they want, and configure their services immediately, getting their own businesses running more quickly

Sangoma Technologies has been responding to this need in many of its products and services.

Productivity

Unified Control Panel (UCP)
FreePBX and PBXact phone systems offer a unique web-based dashboard for every user, empowering users to manage and control their own features. They simply log into UCP from any internet capable device and have access to things such as:

  • Voicemail: listening, delete, voicemail-to-email, and recording voicemail greetings
  • Follow-me: enable/disable and add phone numbers
  • Conference: Create unlimited conference rooms, manage live attendee, and administrator level conference room features
  • Presence: manage your presence across all your devices
  • Device management: customize the applications and features of your deskphone
  • WebRTC phone to make/receive calls and SMS with your colleagues…and the list goes on…

UCP Dashboard

Phone Apps
Sangoma IP Phones are pre-built with device applications which completely remove the need for feature-codes and allow users to have administrator level access to all the typical features they require, saving them and their business time and money. For more information on phone apps visit: sangoma.com/phoneapps

Online Sign up & Configuration

SIPStation & PBXact Cloud Service
Whether your business is looking to connect to SIP Trunks or require a complete fully-featured cloud based phone system, Sangoma’s SIPStation and PBXact Cloud offer a completely self-service online portal, allowing customers to immediately register, purchase and configure service, and manage features, without the need for email responses or service connection delay.

Visit the following pages for information and a live demo of the entire setup process.
SIPStation: sangoma.com/sipstation
PBXact Cloud: sangoma.com/pbxact-cloud