Traditional telephony lacks the kinds of security that IT network administrators are accustomed to deploying, but converging voice and data systems are exposing both sets of traffic to new threats and spurring the development of telecommunications firewalls.
"Voice over IP is not secure enough for enterprise deployment unless you protect it with an overlay voice security technology," said Lee Sutterfield, president of SecureLogix Corp., in San Antonio.
This week, at VoiceCon in Washington, SecureLogix will herald the development of an IP Telephony Blade for its Enterprise Telephony Management system to address the vulnerabilities brought about when voice and data traffic merge.
Enterprise Telephony Management protects phone systems from modem-based attacks, toll fraud, information theft and unauthorized traffic. The IP Telephony Blade, which wont be commercially available until next year, will provide voice security and management to VOIP and legacy telephone systems.
Even without VOIP, an enterprise data network can be exposed to threats via unauthorized phone connections to the Internet, Sutterfield said. As IT administrators have successfully fortified data networks, employees have turned to the telephone system for Internet access, opening new fronts for attack, Sutterfield said.
"There are more modem connections into the data network than there are data connections," Sutterfield said. "Theres been a rash of employees buying modems and bringing them into work or hooking up the modem in the desktop to a phone line and getting a private connection to the Internet."
Although all VOIP systems are susceptible to toll fraud, systems based wholly on client/server architecture are particularly vulnerable to more serious assaults such as denial-of-service attacks.
Many in the industry agree that security has not been at the forefront of the industrys efforts.
Officials at Avaya Inc., of Basking Ridge, N.J., said they believe that once the platform is secured, users will be able to enjoy the added cost and feature benefits of VOIP. Avaya this week is unveiling Modular Messaging software, which lets users manage voice and fax messages in IP and legacy telecom environments. Using a standards-based design to protect existing messaging systems, the software offers easier administration and more flexibility throughout a multisite enterprise, company officials said.
Altigen Communications Inc. this week is unveiling an IP-based contact center platform for small and midsize businesses with up to 500 agents. Called AltiContact Manager, the VOIP system is aimed at small manufacturers and other sales-oriented companies that cant afford traditional call center integration but want the same features, including advanced CRM (customer relationship management) functions. It comes with built-in integration with CRM systems.
Getting In LineForecasts for VOIP telephony
- Over the next three years, IP contact center solutions purchases are predicted to grow by more than 100 percent a year (Gartner Inc.)
- By 2005, IP telephony applications and hardware will become mainstream but will remain expensive because of reliability and redundancy requirements (Meta Group Inc.)