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Telecom Network for Professionals and Users
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How secure are your calls?Views: 810
Mar 22, 2007 2:01 pmHow secure are your calls?#

Ken Hilving
I have heard some rumblings about the lack of security of VoIP calls. Bob Cringely gave his concerns, for example, in his column this past December.

I don't disagree with his assessment that VoIP is not particulary secure, but I don't think its any less secure than a traditional PSTN call. In fact, RFC 3261 Section 26 is fairly clear on this, but offers a solution as well. "Any media associated with a session can be encrypted end-to-end independently of any associated SIP signaling."

Seems to me that encryption over the Internet is a whole lot easier to implement than encryption over PSTN. What do you think?

Links to referenced information -
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2006/pulpit_20061201_001274.html
http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3261.txt

Private Reply to Ken Hilving

Mar 30, 2007 5:08 amre: How secure are your calls?#

Dave Porteous
Great subject Ken. PSTN security relies on the closed nature of the network and the very physical construction of the access technology i.e. usually copper pairs buried in the ground or carried overhead. So whilst not technically secure, such networks present a logistical challenge to gain access to. Within the telco itself it is of course very easy to listen in to telephone conversations using the management capabilities of TDM based digital switches.

For IP based services with smart end user devices encryption from end device to end device can be very effective. So whilst it may be easier to access the packets traversing the network it can be made very difficult to interpret them.

I suppose this is great news for those wishing to protect their privacy and that's a good thing where such privacy is desired for legitimate activities, but it does present quite an obstacle for law eforcement and other legal intercept authorities. As an incumbent preparing to replace it's entire TDM based PSTN network with an all IP infrastructure I'm expecting we will have this as one of the many complications that come with building a carrier gade network - along with inumerable others like admission control, OSS and BSS models, numbering, location identification etc etc.

So plenty of excitement left in the fixed line world still :-)

Anyone else have any insights on this?

All the best,
Dave.

Private Reply to Dave Porteous

Mar 30, 2007 4:22 pmIncumbent preparing to replace it's entire TDM based PSTN network with an all IP infrastructur#

Ken Hilving
Dave,

While the security of VoIP versus PSTN is interesting, I think it would be more interesting to hear about the challenges, tribulations, assumptions, and actuals of a telco switching from TDM to IP.

Anything you can share with this network will be most welcome. Who knows, we might even be able to provide useful suggestions around some of the obstacles.

If you do share, be sure to start a new thread. :)

Ken

Private Reply to Ken Hilving

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