Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, forward-thinking companies were moving towards unified communications as a flexible, cost-efficient way of supporting real-time communication and collaboration among their increasingly remote-working teams. Now, at a time when remote working is at its peak, many organisations are coming to realise that the benefits of a solid, integrated UC strategy go much further than supporting collaboration, and that they can actually enhance the security of their networks and users.

The security concerns with UC

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced organisations around the world to quickly adopt wholesale remote working, a survey by Ribbon revealed that just 43% of US companies with more than 1,000 employees had invested in traditional UC systems. That meant there were 57% of such companies that were unsure about UC as a business-enhancement solution. Those companies, it found, were concerned about transitioning to new technologies like SIP Trunks and Hosted Telephony as they anticipated potential disruption to their business operations, due to both setup snags and concerns around compliance and security.

The thinking goes that there’s a tendency for people to trust more in what they can see. Many organisations hold on to the belief that hardware-based systems are safer because they can see them working, and having on-premise solutions gives them more control over the physical hardware, its security and its application. But in reality, hosted UC systems can actually be the more secure solution when it comes to keeping teams connected and supporting collaboration.

Collaborate securely

With teams working from disparate locations amid the COVID-19 lockdown, unified communications solutions are really coming into their own. Organisations around the world are relying on virtualised meeting and collaboration spaces like Microsoft Teams to keep them up and running, and features like video conferencing, file sharing and instant messaging have become important tools of the trade for all manner of businesses.

More than just providing an immediate solution to a current problem, organisations are beginning to realise the enhanced flexibility, scalability and security a robust UC solution can offer. From SIP Trunks and Hosted Telephony to Microsoft Teams and Slack UC tools have proven themselves to be quick-to-implement solutions for keeping teams connected, all while providing increased security for networks and users.

Why the increased security? Simply because most UC solutions have security measures implemented at both the provider and the user ends, ensuring data, files, user information and messaging content are protected behind multi-layer security and encryption.

VoIP calls

There are many ways of enhancing your business continuity plan and call flexibility with VoIP options. In an increasingly competitive UC marketplace, customers can choose from a range of robust and flexible solutions that includes Hosted Telephony and call-and-collaborate functions. These services are designed to get and keep you connected, enabling you to call, message and hold virtual meetings with anyone, anywhere in the world, from any device. Most reputable vendors will put security at the heart of all their offerings.

Any provider worth its salt will provide fraud-control mechanisms as standard with any voice or telephony product, as well as offering centralised management, control and permission-setting to give businesses real peace of mind when it comes to matters of security.

With VoIP solutions, users enjoy the enhanced security features that come with having their PBX hosted in the Cloud and their calls routed and handled through the internet. VoIP generally offers various tools that work in conjunction with firewalls, including monitoring, alerting and portal control, and having your PBX hosted remotely brings all the inherent security and disaster-recovery benefits that come with Cloud computing.

Some VoIP solutions, users will be further protected from phishing scams and toll frauds, whereby an account is compromised and a call is routed to a premium line with potentially catastrophic cost implications, so it’s worth digging around in the small print before you choose a vendor.

Keep your Teams secure with Microsoft integration

While Microsoft Teams is a feature-rich platform that offers video conferencing, internal instant messaging, screen sharing and file transfer, it currently lacks a flexible, scalable telephony solution. Many UC vendors recognise Teams’ potential for providing a complete UC platform, and offer direct routing solutions to add external communication and audio conferencing to Microsoft Teams’ already extensive bag of tricks.

Many Microsoft Teams call integrations offer a seamless solution that enables teams to create and make decisions in a shared workspace with end-to-end security, administrative control and full compliance.

Along with a vendor’s own security measures, customers using Microsoft Teams call integration solutions benefit from the additional security that comes with operating within the Microsoft ecosystem. As with the wider Office 365 environment, users can access and change their own security settings, enabling features like dual verification and giving them complete control over the level of authentication required. Microsoft Teams can incorporate 3rd party tools such as Okta, a flexible, multifactor authentication solution, which manages and secures user authentication and speeds up access to collaboration tools and data. And with Microsoft Teams’ data encryption applied as standard, whether at work or rest, it really does mean teams can collaborate and communicate securely.

For more information about M247’s UC solutions and how we can help you stay connected securely, get in touch with our team today.

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