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Xpander VoIP Blog

Hosted PBX vs IP PBX: The Security Risks

Posted December 07, 2009

VoIP technology is here to stay, cemented in our future of business telecommunicating.  There are 2 types of VoIP phone systems: the hosted PBX and the non-hosted IP PBX.  The decision to go with one or the other has many layers and is impacted by your business organization’s wants, needs, and IT knowledge.  Today i’m going to focus purely on the aspect of security. 

Regardless of how much IT knowledge you have, you are aware that being connected to the internet means you are free to connect to foreign hosts such as web sites, email servers, ftp servers, etc.  Likewise, foreign hosts are open to connect to you.  You probably know viruses, worms, and malicious software exists and that hackers are not just some urban myth.  This is why internet and information security is in high demand, and devices such as firewalls are sold by the thousands.  So what’s this got to do with your phone system? 

It’s simple, VoIP means you have to use the internet to make your calls and use your advanced features.  In the decision to go with a hosted PBX or a locally installed IP PBX, you must be aware that if you are leaning towards a locally installed IP PBX you better know what you are doing when it comes to networking and IT.  Much like an improperly secured computer, an improperly secured IP PBX can be compromised by a worm, malicious software, or foreign hacker.  The internet criminals of the world can gain control of an improperly secured IP PBX and utilize it to make international calls on your dime, make calls using your caller ID, and in some extreme cases even figure out a way to listen to your calls. 

A hosted PBX; however, works differently.  Hosted PBX services reside in massive, and highly secured data centers as opposed to your office, and are locked down to prevent any fraudulent activity.  Basically, with a hosted PBX service, you do not have to put any thought into protecting your VoIP phone system as it is already done for you.  This can be a nice security blanket for those businesses who simply do not have the local IT staff, or the time, to secure their local network from VoIP intruders. 

In summary, if you do not have the time or personnel to secure your IP PBX, and are concerned with some of the potential attacks out there, then a hosted PBX service is going to be more attractive when it comes to security.  If you have a firewall in place and understand the basics of secure networks, then you may have no problem keeping your IP PBX in house. 

I hope this article provides some food for thought for those who are making a decision on a new VoIP phone system, and urge you to contact us with any questions on this topic.


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