There is no doubt that VoIP communication offers the user a wealth of benefits. However as the technology has gone mainstream there have been concerns raised over potential security risks.
Let’s examine some of the major threats which might impact your use of VoIP.
Security Vulnerabilities of VoIP
- Identity Theft: This has two elements to it. The first is that someone might listen in on your calls to obtain your name and password and then use your VoIP service for free. The second is potentially more damaging, particularly for businesses, as the eavesdropper might gain access to your data or confidential information which they then use for nefarious purposes.
- Vishing: In much the same vein as phishing only done over a VoIP connection, vishing is where someone calls you, or sends you a voicemail, supposedly from a trusted organization such as your bank and asks you for confidential information.
- Denial of Service Attack: Denial of Service often makes the news when large businesses and organizations suffer an attack. The upshot is that the company’s website is out of action, often for an extended period, because it has been targeted by hackers. The same can happen on VoIP if someone attempts to overload the bandwidth or the network’s interior resources. It would seem more likely that a business rather than an individual would fall target to this one.
- SPIT: Spamming Over Internet Telephony is as yet rare but VoIP could be the target of spam in the same way email is. The way this works is that every VoIP account has an IP address attached to it and a spammer could in theory send multiple voicemail messages to all these IPs. This would be disruptive enough if your voicemail quickly got overloaded however more worrying is that voicemail can also carry viruses and spyware.
How to Protect Your VoIP Connectivity
Just as we can make changes to improve our security on the internet we can also strengthen our defences on VoIP.
The first step is to always be alert to potential problem areas. As with phishing, when you are asked for personal details or prompted to download an attachment, you can guard against vishing by remaining vigilant. Never disclose any information to an someone who has called you or left a message. Instead call the organisation or company the person says they are representing and ask them to confirm the person’s identity. As an aside, verify the number of the company or organisation for yourself, don’t accept the one from the caller, as it may well be bogus.
If you are concerned about people listening in on your calls or stealing confidential information the safest route is to opt for a VoIP service provider who offers encryption. That way even if someone accesses your call the information they gain will be worthless to them.
VoIP servers can be protected by firewalls and malware protection in the same way that standard network servers can be. Install and run anti-virus software and keep it updated so that as malware evolves so does your protection. These defences will help guard against Denial of Service attacks and spamming.
Do You Need to Be Concerned?
If you have concerns over your privacy in relation to VoIP you need to put it in the wider context of the internet as a whole. VoIP is at heart just communication via the internet and the same level of care and vigilance you display when it comes to email, websites and personal details therefore needs to be extended to VoIP.
If you put in place adequate security such as a firewall, anti-virus software and encryption and, in addition, if you remain vigilant to anything which seems out of place or suspicious, you will be taking the best actions possible to keep yourself secure.