Security/Privacy for Home VoIP - Don't Just Think VoIP

by Tim ONeill - Date: 2007-01-15 - Word Count: 512 Share This!

Much disussion has centred around the security and privacy aspects of VoIP as well as significant issues in relation to emergency calls.  This article will focus on the importance of considering the wider implications of security in the context of utilsing VoIP.


There are numerous security concerns with VoIP with two common ones being the privacy aspect of eavesdropping in on a conversation and a second being the hacking into and use of a VoIP users account.


It is arguable that focus in relation to security aspects of VoIP technology has and continues to be improved and addressed.  Even if this is not the case are there bigger holes elsewhere?  Most VoIP users are operating on something other than a dedicated VoIP computer, network, broadband link.  That is they are using an existing computer and everything that goes with and on it as well as a broadband link utilized for general internet purposes.


Thus the same risks and concerns in relation to security of personal computers and data transmissions therefrom is extremely relevant to the VoIP world.  This is especially relevant if using software applications as a telephone rather than a standard telephone through an Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA).


In the case of software on a home PC it would therefore be vital to secure the PC and operating system to the highest level possible by use of firewall(s) and anti virus software for starters.  This should be obvious but how many users don’t keep their firewall and anti virus software updated along with the operating system as new security exploitations are encountered and security upgrades supplied?


Additionally consider all things wireless.  Anything wireless means a radiocommunications transmitter at the departure point and a receiver at the other allowing the possibility of interception somewhere inbetween.  For example users of a Wireless LAN such as one compliant with the 802.11 standard would need to consider security in relation to the wireless or radiocommunication transmission aspect.


Whilst things have come a long way from the days of non encrypted cordless phones and analog mobile phones that could be intercepted on a commercially available scanning receiver, along with Dual Tone Multi Frequency (DTMF) decoders meaning not only could conversations be listened in on but PINs, account numbers etc entered via the keypad could be decoded, you do not want to be the car with the mobile phone visible on the front seat or the house with the door or window left unlocked.


By examining, assessing and addressing the basic security aspects in relation to PC/server setup along with increasing security for the Voice Over Internet Protocol technology, it is hoped that the analogy could be drawn that so many others are more vulnerable that you will either go unnoticed or not be targeted due to the availability of much easier and worthwhile targets.



Whilst many questions still surround security of certain aspects of VoIP usage, there are other basic security considerations which if left unaddressed will definitely leave the user vulnerable in not only the VoIP sense but with all data storage and transmission aspects.

The author has an Associate Diploma in Electronic Engineering.  For further information, books and VoIP items, visit All About Voice Over Internet Protocol .

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