Migrating to a cloud-based communications solution such as Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) can produce a number of operational, management and cost benefits. The ability to extend leading-edge communication and collaboration solutions to the remote workforce is particularly enticing to many organizations, which is why most industry analysts predict steady growth of UCaaS solutions in the coming year.
Cloud Communications & Security
However, moving key business communications to the cloud does raise legitimate security concerns. With essential voice, video and text data traversing the public Internet, organizations are right to be apprehensive about data protection, privacy and compliance vulnerabilities.
To temper those concerns, organizations should do their due diligence and thoroughly evaluate the protections offered by potential third-party UCaaS providers.
Here are six key security features your UCaaS provider should offer.
- Secure data center. Cloud-based solutions such as UCaaS are hosted on hardware in a provider’s data center, so it is imperative that the provider has strong protections in place. Top providers will have data centers built to Tier III standards with SOC 2 Type 2 certification, which demonstrates they have implemented appropriate security policies and procedures to protect customer data. Facilities should also have strong physical security features such as video surveillance, outdoor lighting, fences and other barriers, locks, alarms, and access controls.
- High-bandwidth connectivity options. Providers should offer multiple high-bandwidth connectivity options to provide reliable delivery of voice, video and data. Additionally, data centers should have redundant IT equipment and infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted service and disaster recovery capabilities.
- Secure voice. IP phone services use codecs to break phone calls down into voice data packets that are transmitted across the Internet. That means it’s possible for hackers to intercept packets and eavesdrop on sensitive communications. Ideally, your provider should be using the Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) to encrypt all voice calls during transmission.
- Data encryption. Of course, UCaaS involves much more than voice communications. A great deal of information passes through these systems in the form of instant messaging, video conferencing, team collaboration and web conferencing. As such, UCaaS requires end-to-end encryption to protect all forms of data, both in transit and at rest. Cryptographic systems should adhere to Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) encryption guidelines to ensure compliance with privacy guidelines such as HIPAA, GDPR and PCI DSS.
- Network security. UCaaS relies upon high-speed Internet connections, which can expose network systems to a variety of security threats. In addition, your end-users will access UCaaS services using a variety of endpoint devices that may not be properly secured. Top providers will employ a multilayered defense featuring security measures at every potential point of vulnerability. Firewalls and intrusion detection systems boost security at the perimeter, while antivirus, anti-malware and patch management software help provide endpoint protection. Session border controllers (SBCs) help secure the network edge, regulate traffic in and out of the network, and normalize signaling and media used in real-time communications.
- Access controls. Providers must also control access to UCaaS services, accounts and data. At a minimum, they should implement strong password policies and multifactor authentication. Stronger measures such as Identity and access management (IAM) solutions integrate a variety of tools such as authentication, user provisioning, password management and single sign-on into a comprehensive platform. Such measures can be used to establish a least-privileged access policy in which users and devices are restricted from accessing any resources that aren’t explicitly approved for them.
The events of the past year have fundamentally changed the way we work. UCaaS is a powerful tool for supporting new remote and hybrid workstyles by helping organizations collaborate and communicate across various devices, platforms and locations. However, migrating to the cloud will require a strong focus on security. If you’re contemplating a UCaaS migration, we can help you evaluate solutions that provide the strongest possible protection for your critical resources.