Essentials for Small Business Phone System Security and ReliabilityWritten by InvoiceBerry Team on February 25, 2019
For the small businesses and freelancers of the world, phone system security and reliability are essential to their health.
VoIP phone system providers assure reliability through guaranteed uptime, redundant architecture, and relationships with phone carriers. They harden their security through data center protections and the support of industry protocols.
The next time you’re searching for a small business phone system, consider the following elements as you sift through the long list of available providers.
Whether you’re making calls to sell a product or you’re receiving calls for customer service, you don’t want your phones to fail.
Every minute of downtime affects your ability to reach customers. A service provider’s uptime, data center redundancy, and industry connections are what keep you connected to those individuals.
99.999 Percent Uptime
The best VoIP service providers announce their uptime. The gold standard for a phone system is 99.999 percent.
While the addition of several nines in that percentage may seem overkill, it’s actually significant.
The average yearly downtime you can expect to see in a phone system with just 99.99 percent is about 52 minutes.
Increasing that figure to 99.999 percent lowers the average yearly downtime to only five minutes.
Don’t settle for anything less than the five nines. Your connection to customers depends on it.
Redundancy helps create 99.999 percent uptime and improve phone system security and reliability.
All internet-based providers rely on data centers to hold customer information and process data. They retain copies of information on multiple machines to ensure that a power outage or broken server won’t halt operations for their compliment of customers.
For VoIP service providers, redundant server architecture means that customers can complete calls at all hours of the day. It also lets customers log into their online dashboards to make system changes like managing phone numbers or billing.
Additionally, without a failsafe, your calls could drop whenever a single server tower fails or a power outage occurs. These types of systems are fallible, so it’s smart to take precautions that can save the integrity of your critical business operations.
Relationships With Multiple Carriers
You may be familiar with major phone carriers like AT&T and CenturyLink. These fixed-line operators provide a pivotal role in phone services because they own and control much of the physical infrastructure that handles call routing and connection.
VoIP providers develop relationships with carriers to gain access to that physical infrastructure. This allows them to accept and receive calls between their customers and any other outside person.
Your contract with a VoIP phone system provider lets you take advantage of all the relationships it has with carriers. You gain reliability through another set of redundant systems – the phone lines that multiple carriers manage.
Even if one fixed-line carrier’s power grid was to fail, for instance, another grid could pick up the slack. This assures that both your inbound and outbound calls can come through.
There’s no specific number of carrier relationships that are necessary for a satisfactory level of redundancy. However, it could be a red flag if you find a VoIP service that links with only one carrier.
When scouting a new phone service, the VoIP provider will be able to tell you which carriers it uses to complete calls.
Your phone system security goes hand-in-hand with reliability.
Once you know that a provider has 99.999 percent uptime, redundant servers, and multiple carrier relationships, you should ask about the following security ideals.
Hardened Data centers
A VoIP provider can use redundant servers to increase its uptime. It can also harden those servers with security measures like firewalls and data separation.
As a customer, you should know how your data is protected. A phone system provider will process your credit card number and store potentially-sensitive information like your company location.
Assure the safety of your information by asking whether or not there are backdoors, loopholes, or system processes that work around company data centers. Then be sure that the service provider protects all its systems with separate components. A failure to the web-based interface in the U.K. should not take down your access in the U.S.
Support of Industry Protections
One of the biggest worries consumers have about phone service is spam. The Washington Post recently reported that the increase of robocalls went from 3.7 percent of total calls in 2017 to 29 percent in 2018.
This caused the Federal Communications Commission to issue a letter to 14 prominent telecommunications companies demanding that they implement the new SHAKEN/STIR method of call protection.
- SHAKEN: Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs
- STIR: Secure Telephone Identity Revisited
In short, the SHAKEN specification and STIR protocol provide telecoms with methods of authenticating calls. They help cut down spam by making sure calls originate and terminate properly.
SHAKEN and STIR work together to create a system that’s similar to the secure https:// websites you visit.
Your online banking websites, for instance, use https:// because it can encrypt and protect sensitive information, such as your credit card number. Likewise, the combination SHAKEN/STIR allows caller information to be identified as genuine or fraudulent.
Although the use of SHAKEN/STIR lies in the hands of fixed-line operators, your choice in VoIP service providers can reflect your desire for a safer global calling atmosphere. When you support a service provider that promotes new protocols like SHAKEN/STIR, you help bring those types of progressive policies to life.
Prioritizing Phone System Security and Reliability
It’s in your best interest to look out for these phone system security and reliability measures.
Not all phone service providers are equal. They don’t all have the same uptime percentage or harden their servers. They don’t all make efforts to protect your data and remain upstanding citizens in the telephony market.
It’s in your hands to pick the right one. With this article’s information in mind, you can make a more informed choice in your pick for a phone system that best fits your small business or entrepreneurial venture.
By Casey Houser
As its Content Specialist, Casey Houser writes for VirtualPBX, a VoIP Phone System provider for small businesses, midsize firms, and enterprises.