Understanding Network Security in the Age of Unified Communications

by Jeff Wiener on April 4, 2012

In this “always-on” age of connected everything it can be a nightmare for enterprise IT departments to manage the exponential proliferation of hardware and employee devices connected to the corporate network. The current trend in mobile technology is seeing corporate users moving away from traditional business mobile devices like Blackberry to consumer friendly (and often less secure) devices like the iPhone, meaning that IT departments need to be increasingly vigilant to ward off potentially devastating security breaches. In addition, the BYOD (Bring your own Device) trend that is becoming more common in the corporate space is making it even more difficult for the IT departments to manage network security.

To better manage this connected everything future, where every workplace device from security cameras, to air conditioning, to computers and phones will soon be networked, unified communications (UC) promises a brave new world of connectivity and integration, where users can use any device they choose to fulfill most any communications need.

It will truly be a golden age of communication for your business, an all-encompassing corporate network bound together by Business Phone Systems, IP telephony and Ethernet, but the question becomes, is your company’s network infrastructure up to the task?

As is often the case with new technology, particularly new communication solutions, companies often don’t do their due diligence in investigating both the positive and negative effects of such advancements. In the case of UC, and more particularly IP telephony, in my experience businesses often times hear only the promised benefits, not realizing that there are steps that they need to take to prepare their respective corporate data network to fully utilize unified communications.

In my opinion, first among these preparations is always a thorough examination of one’s communication security measures; the protocols companies should have in place to protect sensitive communications with clients, co-workers, and business partners. By running security diagnostics, companies will better be able to recognize potential threats and prevent compromises to the communications network.

The truth of the matter is that running a secure multi-faceted communication network is challenging, as IP telephony brings with it many of the same challenges as traditional data networks coupled with the additional security issues related to voice networking. Not only do network administrators need to protect the network against such threats as hacks, viruses, and malware, but now must be able to ensure that IP phones, particularly those in open environments likes lobbies, are secure from unauthorized access through the phone’s Ethernet port. Better yet, and something I like to preach, is the segmentation of both the physical and logical end of a corporate network. It’s not enough to segment a single switch with VLAN’s and expect the network to support a “piggy backed” environment. A logical separation (i.e. separate switches for both voice and data), is always better in the end.

The point being, while UC (from manufacturers like Avaya and NEC) does offer unprecedented communications solutions, it brings with it security vulnerabilities as well, vulnerabilities that the old land-line system & TDM simply didn’t have to worry about, issues that companies should be aware of before they jump in with both feet.

In the end, if you feel your business is unprepared for the advanced solutions unified communication provides, don’t worry, we here at Digitcom can help. Just give us a call and I promise we’ll help make this connected everything future easier to manage.

Did you like this post ? TheTelecomBlog.com publishes daily news, editorial, thoughts, and controversial opinion – you can subscribe by: RSS (click here), or email (click here).

Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: