As companies adopt and deploy unified communications solutions, there are risks associated with connecting communications to the data stream. Channel partners can play a key role not only in selling and deploying UC systems, but also in ensuring security levels are at their peak.
Citrix offered a top six list of best practices for secure unified communications implementations:
1. Update UC services regularly and don’t be afraid to discontinue services no longer being used. As noted in an email to CDN, Calvin Hsu, Citrix’s vice president, indicated the importance of keeping systems up to date to minimize security risks. At the same time, though, Hsu cautioned organizations about the dangers of keeping unused features active. Turning off such features will eliminate them as a method for attack.
2. Consider the data flowing between various devices. Thanks to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, there’s a growing number of both corporate and personal devices connecting to corporate software, services and data. Managing the devices and how they access corporate data is difficult, at best. Instead of focusing on doing device-level security, partners can help customers secure corporate applications and data to protect sensitive information from device-level vulnerabilities.
3. Implement secure browsing on web-based UC apps. With many unified communications applications accessible through web browsers, Hsu recommended turning on secure browsing capabilities to deliver secure remote access to both web and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. It also removes the need to deploy endpoint configurations and makes it easier for employees to access the apps they need to work without requiring VPNs.
4. Change the default passwords on all UC products. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also an important step that’s easily overlooked.
5. Over communicate with employees to reduce shadow IT. Although businesses often have a list of approved UC applications and services employees can use, many will go around IT’s back to use unapproved apps. According to Hsu, communication is key — not just the dissemination of information, but the acquisition of feedback. It’s something partners can help with. Gathering feedback from end-users can point to UC usability issues that can be resolved and keep workers from spreading potentially sensitive corporate information using unapproved apps and services.
6. And finally, deploy virtualized UC products that don’t compromise the user experience. Application delivery controllers that provide the load balancing, encryption and optimization customers need to ensure a secure UC environment are important, but Hsu also indicated the security benefits of a hybrid cloud environment that provides a consistent UC experience to all users.