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Session Border Controllers: Securing real-time communications

Pierre Jean Chalon, Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, Sonus Networks | Nov. 4, 2014
Enterprises should leverage Session Border Controllers to protect the network and networked communications from IP-based attacks.

4.Ensuring Secure Endpoints

Within the physical enterprise environment, devices such as phones and laptops are secured through the enterprise WiFi network or a physical local area network (LAN) connection. But what about the millions of mobile devices accessing the network from the outside, whether a service provider's 4G network or an airport's WiFi network? These devices may be visible to other users on the same network unless they're secured. In essence, any information transmitted on a non-secure remote device-passwords, customer information, sales data, emails-can be viewed by another device that shares the same network.

SBCs can ensure the security of endpoints outside the physical network through encryption, authentication and policy enforcement. For example, enterprises may require a Voice VPN connection to remote call agents who work from home, in order to meet industry compliance requirements. Having a centralized policy management solution can also play an important role in security by enabling SBCs to block devices across the network moments after a mobile device or account is de-activated, which can happen as employees change devices or change jobs.

5. Providing High-Quality, Secure Communications
Because voice is a real-time application, it's highly sensitive to issues such as dropped packets and latency. In the world of data communications, dropped packets can simply be re-sent and latency is little more than a slight lag in time as a Web page downloads. In voice communications, however, these same problems make for a frustrating user experience, as anyone who used Voice over IP (VoIP) in its earliest days can attest.

Although it's not specifically a security issue, high-quality communications do make customers feel more secure, especially when they're exchanging personal information over the phone. SBCs can do a number of things to ensure high-quality, real-time communications, including:

  • Call Admission Control to prevent network overloads that can result in dropped or delayed calls;
  • Media transcoding to provide the best possible voice quality based on the end user's network and device; and
  • Policy-based call routing to ensure that voice and video calls meet service level agreements for quality.

Conclusion
SBCs play an important and unique role in today's UC networks, helping service providers and enterprises secure SIP trunking services, protect their networks from Internet-based attacks, and provide higher quality communications.

Today, SBC vendors offer a variety of options for enterprises and service providers, ranging from smaller devices best suited to a branch office, to medium-sized devices for active call centers, to the largest SBCs that can support up to 150,000 concurrent SIP sessions for carriers and the largest of enterprises.

As voice, and especially video, become more prevalent on IP-based communications networks, SBCs will need to offer high scalability, flexibility and performance to meet this growing demand for SIP-based communications.

 

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