Remember when having a firewall for your enterprise meant that your data and systems were fully protected? Seems like ages ago, right?
Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, acclimating to remote working and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture is essential. The number of enterprises shifting to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for voice and video calling has skyrocketed. However, as we exchange more data over the internet, the vulnerability to cybercrime increases. A Session Border Controller (SBC) is a crucial element to maintain the security of VoIP solutions. Let’s understand what SBCs are and why they have recently become essential to implement.
What is a Session Border Controller?
As you may be familiar, VoIP uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to initiate, maintain, and terminate VoIP services like voice and video calls. An SBC is a dedicated hardware device or software application deployed to protect SIPs. An SBC provides security and other functions in an SIP network. You can think of an SBC as a border patrol agent that stands at the door of each network on the call managing the data traffic passing through. SBCs carry out encryption and transcoding to ensure the secure transmission of sensitive information. An SBC has many important functions, but the two that stand out most are that of security and quality of service (QoS). Let’s dive into these functions to learn more.
SBC Function: Security
Each time a VoIP call is initiated, a door is opened to your network where malicious threats like to lurk. Therefore, adding this extra layer of security is critical. SBCs use pattern recognition to flag unusual activity and detect attacks. An SBC monitors traffic at VoIP call borders, which enables it to protect against threats like:
- Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed DoS (DDoS) attacks
- Toll Fraud
Malware and cybercriminals are constantly morphing and finding new ways to infiltrate. Luckily, SBCs act in the same manner to keep up by way of software updates/patches and maintenance. For enterprises using cloud-based VoIP solutions, this can be accomplished easily with a software update.
Who Controls SBCs?
For the enterprise, it may be more beneficial for their internal IT department to manage the SBC and secure network connections. However, VoIP carriers, ideally prefer to manage the SBC or specify the controller that the enterprise will use. Many factors determine who may be better suited to control the SBC, specifically, whether the VoIP solution is fully cloud-based, hybrid, etc. In any case, it’s a conversation to have because an SBC is vital to the security of any enterprise using VoIP.
SBC Function: Quality of Service (QoS)
In a nutshell, SBCs enhance the quality of VoIP calls. There is little worse than a dropped call or a call with distorted audio or video. SBCs shorten the path that media files take from one caller to another. This results in calls that are much clearer. SBC defines and monitors the quality of all call sessions, ensuring that:
- Users can communicate with crystal clear audio and speech
- Calls remain connected
- Emergency calls are prioritized above all other calls and are delivered correctly
Listed above are just two main functions of SBCs but could be considered the most important.
- Security: SBCs carry out encryption, transcoding, and act as a filter to block suspicious activity.
- Quality of Service (QoS): SBCs handle the swift movement of data through the shortest route that produces clearer and better call quality.
With the extra layer of security that SBCs provide to enterprises using VoIP, combined with the added QoS, it’s no surprise that SBCs are seeing a considerable market trend increase. Just this week, MarketWatch reported that enterprises are hugely benefitted from SBCs. This extra layer of security amidst the BYOD, remote working culture, is critical for enterprises to remain secure. SBCs are no longer considered an expense, but rather, an investment.