Businesses rely heavily in their communications systems, with elements like email, VoIP and video conferencing, presence and real-time messaging underpinning some of the most crucial enterprise processes. This, among other factors, make UC technologies essential for organizations of all sizes.

Companies require these types of solutions to enable communication among co-workers and to support productivity across the workforce. What's more, employees leverage an array of UC platforms to transmit, discuss and collaborate on incredibly sensitive, internal information, including data related to customers and details about business intellectual property.

For these, and a variety of other reasons, it's imperative that organizations and their communication stakeholders work to establish a robust security strategy to safeguard essential UC technologies.

Be aware of potential threats

One of the first steps in creating an effective approach to UC protection is to be aware of the types of threats that can impact your organization's most critical UC platforms. These may vary from business to business according to the communication channels most often used for sensitive data and communications. But it's important that stakeholders examine all of their top-used UC systems and work to understand that current cybercriminal attack strategies and other threats that could affect these platforms.

For instance, hackers still often engage in toll fraud and eavesdropping within VoIP systems, despite the fact that these events are often viewed as outdated threats. A malicious actor could kick off an attack by eavesdropping on company calls, gleaning insights about the business's internal stakeholders and other sensitive details used to support more damaging infiltrations or data theft.

In addition, business email compromise attacks, wherein attackers steal or spoof a high-ranking executive's email address to spur fraudulent wire transfers, have been on the rise recently.

Ensuring awareness of the kinds of threats that cybercriminals could impose on the business is crucial. From here, communication stakeholders and IT leaders can work to implement protections that reduce the likelihood of these potential attacks, specifically.

Person's hand touching a person icon, with lines stretching out to other people icons on a world map background. Your UC solutions enable connections and collaboration, but without proper protection, these platforms could be putting critical, sensitive data at risk.

Take stock of all channels

As IT Toolbox contributor Rose de Fremery pointed out, UC security efforts are most often targeted at the company's email system. While concerns related to email data protection certainly aren't misplaced, it's important to treat other parts of the UC system with as high a priority as that surrounding email.

"IT professionals have expended vast amounts of time and resources to protect their email systems against burgeoning threats like phishing and spam," de Fremery wrote. "UC should receive no less due diligence."

It's important that other, top-used channels aren't overlooked during security discussions. Otherwise, hackers will likely look to target these other, less protected systems, and leverage them as springboards which can open the door to more damaging attacks.

Create individual user access credentials

Just like the email system, each part of the UC platform should be authentication credential-protected. Within some technologies, this could simply mean linking outside communication features to each users' company email, leveraging that username and password for access. Other systems may require the creation of unique credentials, only for use within that platform.

Whatever the case, it's imperative that decision-makers and IT leaders set up individual access credentials for each employee. This ensures that outside users cannot connect with and utilize sensitive communication platforms.

Taking things a step further, ComputerWeekly contributor Akhil Behl suggested implementing difference access levels according to individual employee needs. For example, it's possible that not every worker will require the capability to set up a line within the conference calling systems, and that this right is reserved for managers and supervisors. Separating usage levels in this way can considerably bolster overall security.

"USERNAME: PASSWORD:" on a cloud-shaped piece of paper attached to a hook. Individual authentication credentials are an important part of UC security.

Use VPN for remote workers

Even with unique authentication credentials for each user, the issue of remote access can still benefit from added layers of protection. In this way, it can be considerably advantageous to leverage a virtual private network, or VPN, to enable secure, remote access to UC channels.

As IT Business Edge noted, VPNs have become common practice for securing UC access, right alongside elements like a robust firewall.

"The simplest option is the deploy a VPN device at both ends," IT Business Edge stated. "The connected devices form an encrypted 'tunnel' over the public internet. This 'virtual' network keeps all traffic safe."

A VPN helps ensure that security standards on the side of the business aren't compromised by protection gaps on the side of remote workers. Encryption prevents any unauthorized users from viewing, snooping or stealing sensitive information contained and transmitted through UC systems.

To find out more about safeguarding your critical UC solutions, connect with the experts at Teo Technologies today.

By NO Comment June 15, 2018