Living on the Edge: The New Real-Time Communications Security Risks

Patrick Joggerst

Real-time communications Security Risks

As more and more people have been forced to work remotely due to the global public health crisis, collaboration platforms have unexpectedly saved the day for millions of businesses and allowed teams to continue to get work done and stay connected.

With so many of their employees working remotely, companies must also move their communications and sensitive data onto collaboration platforms, but at what cost? It is essential for organizations to understand that new security threats will surface and extra attention must be paid to securing not only data and infrastructure, but also Real-time communications.

Complience Cloud Risks

Real-time communications

The recent high-profile vulnerabilities on popular collaboration platforms like Slack and Zoom have many organizations keenly focusing their security efforts on preventing similar types of breaches. As more data is being processed outside of enterprises’ physical domains, and outside the core of the network, cybersecurity risks are skyrocketing – including the risk of real-time communications sessions (voice, data, messaging, video, collaboration, etc.) being compromised.

Potential threats include malware, denial of service (DoS), distributed denial of services (DDoS), viruses, worms and ransomware and more. As innovations, including voice to text conversion, can turn confidential conversations into easily searched and accessed data, it’s time to think more deeply about securing these vulnerable environments.

So, what can companies do to protect mission-critical data and information from malicious attacks? For a completely secure network environment, organizations should seriously consider adding unified communications (UC) analytics to their security stack. With sophisticated software and automation, they can leverage network behavioral analytics to detect and protect against bad actors.

Advanced UC Analytics Solutions

Advanced UC analytics solutions can determine how an organization’s communications system acts in the enterprise during different times of day, establishing a baseline of normal network operations. Irregularities can be detected, analyzed and mitigated as needed. By creating a baseline model leveraging analytics, security intelligence tools can identify threats in near real-time and then dynamically share bad actor policies and enforcement methods into the entire network.

Running behavioral network analytics against the UC network to observe and detect malicious activity enables organizations to turn data into actionable information. This information can, in turn, be consumed by a suite of security applications, including session border controllers (SBCs), to prevent fraud, robocalling and telephony denial of service (TDoS) attacks. UC analytics can also share security policy decisions with multiple vendor hardware and software solutions to lock down the network edge.

What traditional firewalls do for data, SBCs do for voice and video data, which is increasingly shared over IP networks. More often than not, SBCs are the first line of defense for voice and video endpoints because of their ability to detect suspicious or anomalous behavior and communicate between other devices, firewalls and technology within a network – an ability that firewalls alone do not have.

Beyond UC analytics and SBCs, here are a few more practical steps that organizations can implement to protect their employees and their networks against attacks:

  • Secure virtual collaboration platforms with the same high level of security policies and software that is used for securing email. Apply all software patches as soon as possible, including mandating updates to end-user devices.
  • Mandate two-factor or multi-factor authentication for all logins.
  • Continually educate employees on all corporate security policies. Ensure that corporate security policies are easily accessible to new and existing employees.
  • Modernize monitoring tools and technologies designed to spot sensitive data that might be exposed; securing cloud-based applications is completely different from traditional premise-based or distributed VPN services.

Investing in a UC analytics solution along with proven applications like SBCs, complemented by sound security measures, will go a long way in protecting organizations against an expanded threat vector in a post-pandemic world when more employees will be working from home than ever before.

By Patrick Joggerst

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