One of the most common issues we discuss with our customers regarding support calls is network security. In particular, how SIP trunk lines, IP PBX systems, SIP telephones and routers are protected from hacking. Here are the different ways hackers can break into your voice network and the steps you can take to protect your system.
VoIP and traditional telephony
Traditional language systems are known to be difficult to abuse. An attacker would have to access a dedicated system through a very small number of available entrances in order to compromise the system. Physical presence is usually required to eavesdrop on voice calls, call fraud, and other harmful behavior at the telephone company's headquarters or in the company's wiring closet. Strong physical security in both areas could in most cases protect the voice network from everyone but the clever attackers.
Enter Voice over IP voip managed services technology uses the infrastructure of IP packet networks. This enables advanced voice and Unified Communication (UC) services that are not possible with conventional telephony. At the same time, it carries the same security risks for voice networks as IP packet networks.
The good news is that these security risks can be mitigated. To do this, it is important to identify and understand the risks and methods used to minimize them. With these security measures, the benefits of VoIP easily outweigh the additional effort required to protect VoIP from potential attackers.
Voice over IP threat
Below are some of the most common threats to VoIP systems. Computerhacker
Identity and service theft - An attacker can steal a service from a service provider and bill a third party. For example, an attacker could gain access to a third-party SIP trunk and use the subscriber's credentials to initiate their call. This not only costs legitimate SIP trunk subscribers, but also enables an attacker to take measures on a SIP trunk based on the subscriber's identity.
Eavesdropping - Another common threat to VoIP systems is eavesdropping. Traditional telephony requires physical access to the wires on a specific phone line in order to perform wiretapping for wiretapping. With IP telephony, you can use packet sniffer software to capture and reconstruct voice packets to hear the conversation that took place. You don't have to listen to the conversation in real time, you can save it and listen to it later. This type of attack is similar to the MITM (intermediate) attack that can occur on an IP packet network.
Viruses and Malware - VoIP resides on computer networks and is therefore vulnerable to attack from the same types of viruses and malware as computers. VoIP systems such as IP PBXs, IP voice servers, and even certain IP phones can be vulnerable to viruses that are specifically designed to infect voice systems. The malware can also install itself on these systems and impair their functionality.
Call Tampering - This type of attack manipulates an ongoing call. This can result in poor call quality, disruption of SIP signaling, and complete disruption of the call. Its purpose is to intentionally cause poor quality voice network performance.
These are best practices used to minimize most VoIP network attacks.
Bulldog with Padlock Encryption for Voice and Signaling - Applying encryption algorithms to all voice and SIP signaling packets is a proven method that all VoIP professionals should follow. Almost all commercial VoIP devices, including IP PBXs, gateways, IP phones, and softphones, offer a level of encryption that is relatively easy to implement. One of the most powerful encryption algorithms currently available is the Advanced Encryption Standard, which uses a key size of 256 bits. Such encryption reduces eavesdropping and identity and service theft.
Encryption is a service that SIP trunk providers apply to voice packets, but less often to SIP signaling packets. We recommend that you ensure that your SIP provider implements both and that your voice gateway or IP-PBX supports the encryption method used by your telephone company.
Traditional IP network security - In most cases, best practice measures to mitigate the risks associated with IP networks are sufficient to protect your VoIP network. Anti-virus and anti-malware software, firewall protection, DDoS attack protection and VLAN and subnet isolation all contribute to the security of your VoIP network. This is because the VoIP and IP data networks are exactly the same. These security measures reduce call manipulation and unauthorized access to VoIP systems and devices.
The article on Protecting Your SIP Phone System will tell you how to mitigate certain types of risks such as DDoS attacks, packet sniffing, data extrusion and malware.
Physical Security - Physical security is just as important to modern VoIP networks as it is to traditional telephony networks. Remote attacks are more common on VoIP networks, but even looser physical restrictions on telecommunications closets can compromise VoIP networks.
For more information on strengthening the physical security of your network, see the Five Steps to Protect Your SIP Phone System and the article on Protecting Your Wireless Network.