Session Border Controllers Uncovered
Nowadays, Voice over IP has become the de facto voice communications channel for most companies. Simply put, VoIP is less complicated, more flexible and scalable and more cost effective compared to older, legacy business communications technologies. However, just as with any other technologies, VoIP does come with a number of challenges that need to be overcome. One question in particular stands out from the crowd and that is how to maintain the security of your IP infrastructure.
While there are many aspects to consider while maintaining VoIP Security, one of the core steps to ensuring security is to deploy Session Border Controllers (SBCs) within your VoIP network. Alternatively, choose a cloud business communications platform, such as a pascom phone system, that already includes SBCs within their solution.
What are Session Border Controllers
Session Border Controllers are devices deployed within VoIP networks and are design to deliver greater control over the various media streams and signalling generated by your business communication channels. In essence you can imagine SBCs as the firewall for your VoIP phone system. As such, SBCs control all the routing to your business phone system and in doing so they ensure both Quality of Service (QoS) and secure all your communication streams.
In order to truly understand what a SBC is, you first need to understand what a “Session” is. Within the world of IP or SIP telephony, when we talk about “Sessions” we are referring to the construction, transmission and break down of the data packets related to a conversation or media streams. In a two-way VoIP call, there are two sessions: one for Jenny and one for Jack. A session can include multiple media streams including voice, video and data. As such, all your business communication channels from phone calls, instant messaging and video conferences are considered sessions.
To take the Firewall analogy further, the term “Border” refers to boundary where one network ends and the other begins, for example the edge of your corporate network and the outside world. Effectively, what a Session Border Controller does is sit at the border of these transmissions and acts as a checkpoint designed to support system admins ensure the safe and secure flow of information across these border points.
Beyond ensuring the secure border crossing for the data streams, the “Controller” aspect of a SBC is tasked with managing all the streams in terms of access control, measurement and routing of all the connections within their environment.
Why your phone system needs a Session Border Controller?
If the above has evoked an image of border security at an international transport hub, you’re not far off. In fact, you can imagine an SBC as check-in, security and traffic control all rolled into one device.
Given the concerns surrounding secure corporate data and that the fact that deploying an SBC supports businesses in rolling out Unified Communications more securely, quickly and efficiently, it is hardly surprising that the Enterprise Session Border Controller market is set to worth $528.4 million by the end of 2022.
More focus on security
Hardly a day goes by without another security breach or cyber attack making the headlines. Sadly, SIP fraud and SIP attacks are commonplace and can originate from any number of sources and have the potential to be extremely costly in terms of revenue and downtime. On top of this, there is now a host of new legislation all geared towards ensuring business takes customer privacy seriously.
Should a company fall foul and not react quickly or appropriately enough then the damage to the corporate reputation could potentially be catastrophic. As such, I think it is fairly safe to say that the world today has an obsession with security and privacy and it is imperative that companies make sure they control over their data.
As mentioned above, SBCs act in similar role to a firewall and in the case of VoIP and Unified Communications & Collaboration environments are deployed to protect the VoIP / UC networks and defend SIP sessions as they move between insecure and secure devices.
As mentioned above, SBCs have a number of roles and not just designed to secure your VoIP and UC traffic; they also ensure that your communications traffic is delivered via the optimum route. In the age of customer experience, this intelligent call routing is fast becoming essentially important in order to ensure that each and every caller is routed to the correct person and therefore boosting customer satisfaction and increasing employee productivity.
Mobile Device Management
In the era of Flexi working, the Digital Transformation and the Gig Economy, the workplace is becoming increasing flexible and mobile orientated. The result is that demand for SIP trunking services will continue to rise. Moreover, in order to communicate and collaboration effectively, the need for effective Bring Your Own Device / Choose Your Own Device (BYOD / CYOD) management strategies will become ever more apparent.
The increased usage of mobile Unified Communications and VoIP softphones that is evident in the our changing workplace will bring more and more mobile SIP endpoints (smartphones, tablets and other mobile communication devices) into the business communications environment and these need to be secured, managed and controlled effectively. The right SBC or UC phone system with incorporated SBC will be well equipped to handle the growing IP traffic that will be generated from the higher usage of VoIP and Unified Communication tools as businesses transform their communications as part of their digital transformation strategy.
What else do you need to know?
A few more useful things to be aware of when it comes to what Session Border Controllers are is the guises they are available in. Firstly, Voice carriers and SIP providers use SBCs within their infrastructure for exactly the same purposes as companies, i.e. to secure, route and measure the flow of information in and out of their networks. Just because your carrier has SBCs deployed does not mean that your business does not need to do the same. Your SBC deployment is designed to protect your communications infrastructure on the border of your network.
Finally, when it comes to protecting your VoIP networks, you have two choices – one or more on-site hardware SBCs (depending on load & number of locations etcetera) or like us, a software based SBC. At pascom, all our latest phone system instances include a software SBC per default, meaning all our VoIP phone systems since pascom 18 deploy the latest in cloud VoIP technology.
Given the increased adoption of IP communication platforms, the increased security and the demand for excellent customer experiences, it really is not a big surprise that SBC adoption is growing. At pascom, we recognised the need for SBCs in our cloud platform right from the get go and have since updated to our complete phone system infrastructure to include SBCs at the customer level for both cloud and on-premise solutions. As such, by choosing a pascom solution as part of your digital transformation strategy you will not only upgrade your business communications with all the essential, easy-to-use VoIP and UC tools, but will also benefit from higher security, more intelligent routing and greater more effective mobility.
Give the pascom team a call on +49 991 29691 201 to discuss your requirements and get started within minutes using our free cloud business VoIP phone system edition.