Businesses are concerned about the security of their data and computer systems and are going to remarkable lengths to keep their IT infrastructure, OS, and programs patched and use practices for system security. At the same time, more and more small and medium-sized businesses are switching to a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) rather than traditional telephone service. Why are businesses making the switch to VoIP and how secure is the technology?
The Benefits of VoIP
VoIP is gaining in popularity with business users because:
- It is cheaper than traditional phone service, up to 60% less costly;
- It is portable. When you move your office, the phone system “goes with” since it is not a normal landline and your calls get to the recipient over the internet;
- It is flexible and adds functionality to your phones by integrating with email, eFax, and video conferencing programs;
- It increases the productivity of employees as they can multitask easily with VoIP. Also, funds saved by not using traditional phone service can be allocated elsewhere in your business other than communications. You can use these dollars wherever you want;
- VoIP is easy to install – usually, all you need to do is hook telephones to each computer, get numbers assigned to you by VoIP providers, and you are good to go. In addition, there is no maintenance needed for the system;
- VoIP is scalable. As you add employees you can add additional lines;
- Using VoIP technology lets you combine and store data on a single network which in turn enhances your phone system manageability, productivity, and cost-effectiveness; and
- Frequently, VoIP vendors bundle added features at no charge including things such as voice mail, call forwarding, call waiting and more.
Each of these reasons helps make a business case for VoIP and when these features are combined that case is even stronger.
The Drawbacks of VoIP
With all these great features, there must be a hitch to VoIP phone service. Following are a sampling of what pitfalls you may encounter.
- When you use regular phone services, even if the power goes out, your phones still work. Not so with VoIP. If your electricity goes out, so do your phones and other means of communications that interface with the phone system from your computer. All that is left is cell phone service until the power is restored. Companies whose computer systems are on a backup generator will be able to continue to use VoIP.
- While VoIP has made great strides in connecting properly with 911 services so that your calling location is visible to them, make sure VoIP works with your emergency services provider.
- Just as with emergency service locator systems, VoIP has come a long way in improving voice quality. This is especially true when internet speeds and bandwidth is generous. Often, when voice quality becomes an issue, increasing bandwidth a bit is all that is needed to make things right.
- Security is also important, and since VoIP technology uses your computer system and the internet it may have security issues that you don’t face with a normal landline. This includes:
- Identity and service theft;
- Call tampering;
- Phishing attacks;
- Denial of service attacks;
- Viruses; and
If you are taking proper precautions for keeping your IT system secure, make sure the precautions apply to your VoIP system too. Many businesses are discovering that it is easier and cheaper to use a managed services provider to help with security issues.
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