You know that VoIP has become such a massive force in communications when its systems and users are now targeted by malicious entities. Gains include control of hardware and accounts, as well as leaked information.
Digital communications is an affordable convenience for a lot of people. And, the benefits far outweigh security risks. You just need to know what these risks are. There are safeguards that you can implement from your end. Likewise, the VoIP service provider that you choose should have ample security measures to ensure safe digital telephony.
A common security concern is theft of service. At the basic level, VoIP account information is stolen to sell in the black market. Any VoIP user can be targeted. Thus, at the user level, it is important to already protect yourself where you can. This starts with your password. Make it complex and avoid using repeating and sequential numbers, and your extension codes.
At a grander scale, there is what’s called the International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF). This is a massive toll fraud scam perpetrated against national carriers through their interconnect agreements with local carriers.
Network security is, thus, a requirement in all fronts. Users can start with password protection. Call encryption either from the user or the service provider’s end can be implemented. Physical security of computers, servers and switches is also important. Likewise, there is fraud detection software that can run from the carrier’s end. This pinpoints suspicious call routing, which can then be denied.
Denial of Service (DoS)
We might be familiar with Denial of Service (DoS) attacks when it comes to websites and web services. Add VoIP to the list.
DoS attacks on VoIP users and service providers are targeted attacks that temporarily disable VoIP service. The scenario here involves several computers (usually zombie computers) that direct traffic to the target. The enormity of the traffic would be too much for typical systems to take; thus, effectively shutting it down.
Currently, there still a lack of concrete measures to protect against these attacks. The best thing that providers can do to protect themselves from such is through the use of session border controllers equipped with anti-DoS and identification capabilities. Suspicious sources of voice traffic can then be pinpointed and blocked.
Malware has also entered the realm of VoIP through unsecured signalling and media sessions. These malware or worms self-propagate once it has taken over a system.
Malware infiltration exposes the entire network. It leaves open databases, hardware, account information and the like. It can even take over systems and use them as “zombies.”
At the user level, some safeguards can be implemented. This can be as simple as protecting computers through virus and malware scanning software.
A systems administrator can also do deep packet inspection through available tools, such as firewalls and file scanners. These can be set up to filter for spam, malware and other harmful attachments.
The threat of call interception is very real and is not limited to movies and spy thrillers. In the world of business, competition is fierce. And politics – you know how things go there.
Intrusions to call privacy can be addressed by simple call encryption. This is somehow similar to data encryption for websites, databases and the like, which makes it odd that it is still not widely implemented. If we make it a point to secure vital data, why not also secure vital conversations?
If you have not signed up with a service, make sure to find one that implements call encryption.
If you are already with one and they don’t encrypt calls, you can implement your own call encryption using zfone, a software that runs on top of your VoIP client.
ATA Device Issues
The ATA device (analog telephone adapter) that you might be using is also a way to infiltrate your digital telephony systems. Its ports (USB and ethernet) are points of entry, which can be abused in toll fraud and cyber attacks.
A way to address this risk is in how you design your network. Commonly, your softphone, internet and ATA are located within the same network segment. This is the convenient and widely used approach. And, after all, it takes some technical skills to put voice in its own subnet range. But if you can, take time to do so.
VoIP Service Monitoring and Security
It should now be standard procedure to monitor your VoIP service. While this practice does not directly address security issues, it can potentially alert you about suspicious dips in your service’s performance. You can address issues right away.
Apart from this, carriers, service providers and end users alike should implement basic security measures, at the very least. Have strict password guidelines. Regularly scan for viruses. Encrypt calls. This is the least. Where possible – especially for service providers and carriers – do more.