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Five Ways Session Border Controllers Keep Businesses Safe

Internet firewallWith reports in the news of high-profile hack attacks against major corporations like Sony, many businesses are wisely looking at their own defenses and asking “Are we vulnerable?” By and large, the answer is probably “Yes.”

The state-of-the-art hacking and intrusion techniques currently in use are generally effective well beyond the usual security measures installed by businesses. Firewalls are typically only installed near the access level, well inside the network, leaving the network border just as open as an unprotected physical border between nations.

Like national borders, proactive measures at the network border are far more effective than tracking intrusions after they’ve occurred. This is a key reason Enterprise Session Border Control (SBC or eSBC) is quickly becoming a necessity. The combination of smart, proactive Intrusion Prevention Systems and firewalls along a network border delivers more robust internal security.

Five Reasons eSBC Is A Necessity For Modern Business Security

#1. Distributed Denial-of-Service Prevention

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks are among the biggest fears in modern corporate security. The attacks are easy for hackers to launch, and currently there are no security systems which can entirely defeat a large DDoS attack.

That said, large-scale attacks (involving millions of bots) are generally reserved for high-profile targets. For most smaller businesses, eSBC will provide adequate warning and protection against smaller attacks.

#2. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Traffic Control

Internet traffic management, a standard addition to eSBC packages, provides software or hardware control over the number of VoIP connections allowed in and out of a business’ network.  These systems monitor traveling data packets for any sign of malicious activity. Newer DDoS variations target VoIP systems rather than primary servers. eSBC can prevent these types of intrusions as well.

#3. Hidden Topography

Many forms of packet requests used by hackers, such as VoIP transmissions, will send back information about the topography of the network. Similar to bank robbers “casing” a bank before a crime, it is common for hackers to use such techniques to probe a network and map out its structure in preparation for more specific targeted attacks.

eSBC systems can combat network probing by preventing network information from being sent back to attackers. When hackers can’t see the internal network topography, they are likely to pick a more vulnerable target instead of pursuing a full attack.

#4. Toll Fraud Protection

Toll fraud is niche of system cracking that is dedicated entirely to getting access to a company’s on-site VoIP system and relaying calls through so they are more expensive. The costly charges are passed on to the business. eSBC technology can prevent this by automatically blocking all secondary dial tone sources.

#5. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Encryption Services

SIP, a technology used to negotiate VoIP sessions is also a vulnerable part of a business network. Most SIP packets are in plain text, making them easy to intercept, exploit, or mimic. eSBCs use Secure Realtime Protocol with encrypted handshakes to remove this weak point in system defenses.

The Year Of Computer Security

A power imbalance in computer security, tilted heavily in favor of hackers, currently exists. The year 2015 is likely to be one that separates companies that are serious about security from those who are not. It is very likely that a network-reliant company without Enterprise Border Security will be among those companies that are open to attack.

Businesses Need Fiber Sooner, Rather Than Later

FiberModern communications continue to evolve, but copper has remained the one constant that’s resisted change thus far. The changing technological landscape is quickly relegating copper’s status to that of a quaint relic, especially as bandwidth and latency needs begin to overwhelm existing copper infrastructure.

The point is simple: Businesses are quickly approaching a point where a switch to improved fiber infrastructure isn’t just inevitable, but mandatory for future survival.

As Copper Fades, Fiber Emerges

For several decades, the U.S. has come to rely on its extensive copper infrastructure for its networking needs. However, that very same infrastructure is starting to show its age in a big way. It’s taking longer and becoming increasingly expensive to repair and refurbish existing copper, leading many carriers to consider putting off needed upgrades and maintenance in favor of making the jump to fiber.

As carriers consider exchanging much of their copper infrastructure for fiber, fiber’s expansion into outlying areas continues apace. Although spread of fiber into rural cities and neighborhoods has been historically sluggish, a recent uptick in application-driven projects, including projects to help shore up mobile data capabilities for cell phone towers, has helped speed up that extension.

Tangible reductions in overall cost are also making fiber more attractive to carriers that were once hesitant to shoulder the burden of expensive fiber upgrades. In many areas, the cost of 10MB fiber is now comparable to that of several bonded T1 lines. Meanwhile, the explosive use of bandwidth-intensive services, including video and software streaming, are pushing these very same T1 lines to their limit.

Planning the Transition

To feed that insatiable craving for high-speed, low latency broadband, transitioning from copper to fiber infrastructure is almost a non-negotiable requirement. The actual transition process can be fraught with a variety of interesting and sometimes frustrating challenges, but many of these can be overcome with diligent foresight and careful planning.

Businesses interested in making the jump to fiber should first know what they’re working with. This means:

  • Asking existing providers to qualify all current copper and fiber sites
  • Estimating the approximate costs of adding fiber infrastructure
  • Understanding the challenges of adding and upgrading to fiber

Knowing where to look for fiber is also crucial, since having a number of alternatives on hand can help businesses avoid potential dead ends and prevent delays. For businesses where fiber isn’t readily available, this could be as simple as approaching a fiber company that’s eager to expand and grow its existing customer base.

Time is also an important factor when it comes to upgrading to fiber infrastructure, as it can take several months to successfully complete. Even if fiber is already available in the area, the amount of time needed for setup is much longer than most businesses anticipate. Remember that this is no ordinary network upgrade – patience and a flexible timeline is the key.

For businesses that operate in rural areas or have multiple locations spread out throughout the country, making the jump to fiber may involve the use of more than one carrier to facilitate fiber service. The ramifications behind this project can be major, so it’s important to make coordination and meticulous planning the focus of the project.

It’s a Tough Road, But It Must Be Traveled

Leaving copper behind for faster, more robust fiber is a growing necessity, but no one said it wouldn’t be tough to pull off. As with any major business project, planning lies at the heart of the effort. It’s important for businesses to have a clear plan for transitioning to fiber and it must be done as soon as possible.