Protecting Your Business Against Spyware

Spyware. It may not grab the headlines every day, but it’s become public enemy number one for small to medium-sized businesses who haven’t taken necessary security precautions for their phone systems.

Spyware can gather information about you and send it to another source without you knowing it, which poses a huge privacy and security threat. And the worst part? It works in devastatingly simple ways.

Spyware originated from the PC and has historically been used to monitor internet surfing habits. The purpose of spyware is usually to acquire personal data that can be used for advertising applications to target specific demographics and increase profits. There are good types of spyware — the kind you control yourself to track frequently visited websites or apps, for example — but the technology is often in the wrong hands and poses a severe security problem.

Today, with increased connectivity, spyware is present in places other than the PC. IP telephones with applications and consoles can be affected by spyware, which is unfortunately now being used to monitor much more than just surfing habits. Depending on the objectives of its developer, spyware can monitor and gather information about email addresses, passwords, credit cards, keystrokes and anything stored on the hard drive. It can be used to commit identity theft or fraud — and your information could be sold to third parties.

So, What Can You Do About Spyware?

There are a number of precautionary steps to prevent spyware accessing your core phone system. These, for the most part, are standard security precautions and should be followed by any business with a VoIP network.

For starters, have a strong password system and ensure every user must log in to the phone before making a call. Avoid using generic passwords such as 1234, 4321 or 0000. Do not use passwords that are the same numbers as the phone extension. And remember: a 6-digit password is more difficult to crack than a 4-digit code. Be sure to remove unused mailboxes in your system as employees leave the company, and set up voicemail accounts to lock automatically after a certain number of invalid attempts.

Business owners should seek the advice of qualified specialists and follow the documentation provided with any devices being installed. Most product manuals will include a section on security. Following the manufacturer’s guidance on best security practices is highly recommended, since every situation is different and devices vary.

Questions, concerns, or spyware stories? Let us know your tips in the comments. Remember that the best way to prevent spyware is to choose a manufacturer with a No Spyware Guarantee.