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Using analytics to secure UC

Using analytics to secure UC
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)

As more companies are migrating away from legacy systems for voice and video communications to cloud-based alternatives, workers are communicating with their colleagues around the world across many disparate platforms and devices. Integrating these features with a unified communications (UC) platform can provide a wide range of benefits to an organisation including more advanced functionality, decreased total cost of ownership (TCO) of communications and improved flexibility.

About the author

Patrick Joggerst is the CMO and EVP Business Development at Ribbon Communications.

Internal communications

Virtual meetings over applications like Skype for Business and secure file sharing are just two fundamental examples of what a modern business requires for internal communication, but this offering can now be bolstered by integrating customer-facing solutions too. With the rise of WebRTC for businesses to tailor solutions to their needs, communications are now being embedded within customised applications to make it easier for customers and employees to interact. 

As the number of devices we use to communicate proliferates, businesses need them to be integrated onto the same network for real-time updates and features need to be compatible across different manufacturers of laptops, tablets, smart phones. Managing all of this activity through one streamlined channel is far more efficient and cost-effective than dealing with multiple bespoke applications.

With all this said, businesses need to be confident that the tools they are working with are secure. A fault in a UC product can put businesses at risk of losing confidential or private data. It could also mean the company loses visibility of its entire communications network. 

As technology increases in complexity and is accessible from the public internet, this compounds the risk even further. A data breach could significantly hamper trust in an organisation and given the strict compliance regulations in many parts of the world, penalties could be insurmountable. Where voice and video are concerned, this could cause significant worry for a business as voice and image manipulation is becoming increasingly problematic globally.

A recent survey from over 2,500 European IT decision-makers found that 48% of respondents have experienced IT attacks including robocalls, telephony DDoS, UC registration hijacks and toll fraud. Additionally, 81% of respondents to the survey indicated that they believe it is the UC provider’s responsibility to provide protection from these threats. Clearly this is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly to protect customer data and prevent loss of revenue for businesses. It’s also evident that SMEs and enterprises want a service provider who can offer a fully secured service.

UC providers must provide a secure solution

With technology moving as fast as it is today, it’s important for service providers to offer flexible solutions that evolve quickly and painlessly. Integrating a wide variety of features into a single service means that one solution can meet all the complex communication requirements of a business today, but if not managed correctly it can become a single point of failure.

As UC providers offer a series of differentiated turn-key applications that enable websites, applications and customer engagement processes, the consistent feature must be the rigorous security protocols. One way to implement this is to ensure all solutions are underpinned by behavioural analytics, in order to quickly and accurately identify security threats.

Every enterprise network has normative behaviour, which can change over time. There is no fixed analytics algorithm to combat most security threats. However, behavioural analytics can be used to create a baseline for normative behaviour within an organisation’s network. With this type of established baseline, identifying and sharing anomalous behaviour is much easier.

Once this is in place, there are several identifiers that can be taken into consideration to quickly identify an attack. Robocalling denial of service attacks, for example, can bring down a whole network and must be addressed immediately. While it may be normal at times for a high number of calls to come into a contact centre, too many calls from the same number or same area code may denote a problem. A behavioural analytics system with access to the right data can flag these calls to security personnel or automatically mitigate them before the threat takes down an entire network.

Working with behavioural analytics

To make behavioural analytics work to an organisation’s advantage, the solutions must be specifically tuned for UC. This means that average usage rates are recorded for specific features, geographical locations and times of day when users are likely to operate such features. Once that part is complete, security professionals must then identify the threats that are of most importance and shape the appropriate behavioural analytics profile. In other words, there is a lot of data to look at, and security experts need to decide what exactly is important to them, in order to collect and analyse data accordingly.

Not only do behavioural analytics help to prevent IT attacks, but they can also help companies to optimise the planning of their networks. The efficiencies and cost-savings that this can bring is one way that businesses can maximise the return on their investment in UC and plan for the future. With a more granular view of network capacity, bandwidth utilisation and traffic patterns, IT service managers can predict network resource requirements and maximise the performance of their organisation’s network infrastructure. This insight will allow them to make sure network resources are available to support the capacity of data being transferred between network locations and deliver the best quality of experience to their customers and employees.

 

Patrick Joggerst is the CMO and EVP Business Development at Ribbon Communications.