Dangers of Unprotected VOIP

By Ryan Naraine  |  Posted 2005-07-28 Print this article Print

Asked what target market Zfone is aimed at, Zimmermann said, "There are a couple of different approaches Im looking at. There are the companies that make the VOIP phones … we would like to form relationships with those companies to put our stuff in their firmware." Zimmermann spent a lot of time at the Black Hat conference pitching the product, answering probing questions from the audience and explaining the decision to avoid the "complexities" of PKI [public key infrastructure] cryptography.
"Years ago, people stumbled into e-mail without thinking about protecting the privacy. Thats where PGP came from. I think the average user who had enjoyed the safety of PSTN for all these years is going to get a rude awakening when they discover how bad things can be on the Internet," he said.
He dismissed a suggestion from research firm Gartner Inc. that the VOIP threat was overblown, saying, "The Internet is a terribly hostile environment. If you attach a computer to the Internet without a firewall, it becomes infected within a few minutes. What used to be attacks from kids fooling around is now organized crime. Today, its these giant botnets doing all kinds of sophisticated attacks. "There is a genuine need for voice encryption. There are programs today that record all VOIP phone calls, organize them, save them as MP3 files. There are snooping programs for eavesdropping out there. It is possible to intercept a VOIP call, and, for businesses, encrypting those calls is going to be important." With Zfone, Zimmermann said he believes he has a "relatively simple, understandable protocol" that does not require huge infrastructure investment. "It works. The crypto is solid. I can use it to make calls to any SIP client and it works pretty well." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.


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