NETW561 – Network Case Study – VOIP Security Concerns

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), is software and hardware that allows individuals to use transmit telephone calls through the Internet by sending datagrams or packets of voice data in place for the traditional PSTN transmissions. VOIP allows its users to communicate to individuals on regular phone numbers (Martonik, 2013)

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The potential for wireless VoIP

Voice over Internet protocol has increasingly become one of the leading Web-based applications in the data industry. As providers constantly explore ways of improving delivery and integrate features that make VOIP superior to traditional telephone service, the service’s future looks bright (White, 2007).According to Beancounters, a United Kingdom-based market research organization, there were over 100 million VOIP users in 2010 (Taylor, 2010). This number is expected to continue growing over the coming years. VOIP has improved Internet resources significantly which means that more individuals might start using VOIP in the near future. According to research report released by Juniper Researchin January 2013, there are expected to be over one billion VOIP users by 2017 (Martonik, 2013).

VOIP offers its users a cheaper mode of communication. VOIP users pay less, but get more features and better services than traditional phone users. Internet calling is usually unlimited when the caller and the receiver are within the same country. Additionally, international calls made using VOIP arealso usually offered at extremely low rates. When many individuals have access to a low cost mode of communication, they can transfer information instantly, socialize, work and conduct business more effectively while saving money.

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VOIP can help individuals enjoy frequent and longer calls with their loved ones. What’s more, individuals can use VOIP to look for employment opportunities both locally and internationally and interview for those employment opportunitiesvirtually.VOIP provides video chatting services, which improve personal and business relationships significantly. Since switching to VOIP does not require one to get a new telephone number, businesses use porting services, which would allow them to maintain their old phone numbers thus avoiding any disruptions in their operations.

VOIP has brought about improved communication, which has resulted in a more tech-savvy population. When the technology is plugged in businesses, it can make business operations more efficient. More efficient businesses have a greater chance of growth, which would lead to increased revenue and job creation thus boosting the economy. It is thus safe to conclude that increased adoption of VOIP services have the potential to improve individuals’ lifestyles, progress business operations and boost a country’s economic status.

The significance or insignificance of privacy concerns with mobile VoIP

VOIP’s central concept includes the parketing and digitizinghuman voice. It converts speech into digital signals that are transferred over Internet Protocol networks. For the data to be transferred through an Internet Protocol network, several parameters have to be configured first. Due to the big number of parameters that need to be configured, the network tends to experience potentially vulnerable points (Kuhn, Walsh & Fries 2005). Since VoIP makes use of already existing networks, it inheritsthose networks’ vulnerabilities.  When voice traffic is added to the Internet Protocol networks it also introduces a number of vulnerabilities, which increase security concerns.

Networks have firewalls that provide an additional layer of protection, but they do not provideadequatesecurity for advanced applications like VoIP.The key areas of VOIP security concern include privacy, toll fraud, denial of service,voice spam, and voice vishing (Thomas& Kuhn, 2005).

Generally, VOIP security vulnerabilities can be grouped into two broad categories. These categories are denial-of-service concerns and privacy concerns. This means that hackers can see and misusethe data being transmitted and they can also make resources unavailable to the user. Privacy issues include eavesdropping and toll fraud, where an unauthorized party might make calls from the VOIP user’s network (Thomas& Kuhn, 2005). The denial of service concerns involves issues such as spam and vulnerability to security breaches, which make it difficult for the VOIP user to access the network telephony. Such security bleaches include server slowdowns andvirus caused freezes among others.

Privacy concerns are less significant than denial of service concerns are. Majority of companies and even individuals use private networks, which tend to be relatively protected from intrusion (Watzlaf, Moeini&Firouzan, 2010). Consequently, privacy bleach issues arenot of great concern to businesses and organizations. However, it may be of a greater concern to members of the general public who rely on an insecure network.Nevertheless, organizations need to be wary of the probability of espionage from individuals within the organization. A tech-savvy individual within the organization who has authorized access to the Internet Protocol infrastructure can eavesdrop on communications and easily hijack the network to make calls.

The real concern is getting protection against denial of service issues. Using VoIP services in an unsecure network eventually leads to an attack (Thomas& Kuhn, 2005). Organizations and individuals need to upgrade their network’s basic security in order to counter this problem. Augmenting basic infrastructure constituents including firewalls, anti-malware, and VPNs are among the security initiatives that could help counter the denial of service concern (Kuhn, Walsh, & Fries, 2005).Although this is not impossible, it is quite challenging for most organizations and even harder for individuals.

Conclusion

Compared with the conventional telephone system, VOIP has several hops that create room for unauthorized parties to eavesdrop on phone conversations. It is therefore crucial that there is apt encryption in order to protect the user’s confidentiality. Since VOIP’s local gateways are extremely configurable, hoaxing caller identities is easy thus encouraging fraud (Thomas& Kuhn, 2005). VOIP users should remove their caller identification from verification schemes to lower chances of being victims of such fraudulent activities. Attacker may also hijack a call, eavesdrop or modify the conversation. This can lead to sensitive information landing on the wrong ears, which can cause significant damage (Watzlaf, Moeini&Firouzan, 2010). To counter this, VOIP users should use strong authentication measures. Lastly, the attacker may launch a denial of service attack against the network being used thus interrupting the signaling process. This could inconvenience the VOIP user since the service will not be available. To counter this, the correct firewall should be deployed in order to keep the network secure from such attacks. All in all, it is evident that VOIP security concerns cannot be ignored and correct measures must be taken to avoid service disruptions.

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