Light Reading
Threats to listen for as you implement WiFi VOIP, and how to stop at least some of them

Five WiFi VOIP Security Issues

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
2/16/2006
50%
50%

As enterprise deployments of WiFi VOIP systems reach the staging point, security will be a key concern for enterprise users.

Shawn Merdinger, an independent security consultant based in Austin, Texas, has worked with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS)/Tipping Point. He's tested around a dozen WiFi VOIP handsets and deskphones and says that security problems range from potential denial-of-service attacks to more serious issues that allow "deep access" to the device that lets a remote attacker read sensitive information on the phone.

You can see his postings on many of the devices tested, along with some workarounds here. In the wake of Merdinger's findings, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), and UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI) have issued firmware upgrades for the devices in question. (See WiFi VOIP: How Safe?.)

Such threats are inevitable. So it's up to vendors to forestall them, according to analyst Paul Stamp, of Forrester Research Inc. "It's security 101. If we see practices like this continue as these devices get more popular then the manufacturers will only have themselves to blame when there's a widespread attack," he notes.

Still there are steps users can take to protect themselves. Here's a Top 5 list of enterprise WiFi VOIP security issues, and some ways to guard against them:

Widespread deployment equals a security headache:
Because of the "ubiquity of deployment" in many enterprises, attacks can spread quickly and be targeted to take down multiple devices at once. IT managers should stay up to the minute with phone upgrades, and consider running phones over a separate physical or virtual LAN as a defense against these attacks.

Many points of attack:
As the phones get more sophisicated, so could the points of entry for malicious attacks increase. Bluetooth, email, client Web browsers, SMS, WiFi, media players, and image viewers could open back doors for hackers. Though users can use open-source and commercial tools to continually test their phones and networks, they'll ultimately have to rely on vendors to do proactive testing on these devices. "Some vendors may engage in this testing while the majority will not," warns Merdinger.

Targeting phones in public environments:
For example, a Bluetooth scanner could be hidden at the entrance to a major airport or train station and be used to grab user data. It may be best to keep Bluetooth and other wireless features swicthed off when not needed.

Rogue again:
Meanwhile, at the office and on the road, users and IT departments will have to keep their guard up and scan for rogue access points. Hackers will set up access points to specifically target WiFi phones in the corporate space as well as at hotels, conferences, and other places business people like to congregate. Good device authentication and encryption can help provide protection here.

Targeted attacks:
Targeted attacks on specific voice-over-wireless networks could also be an issue, albeit one that the victims may try to downplay. "There will be targeted attacks on VoIP networks [from hackers or competitors] that will be kept quiet if there is no legal requirement for disclosure or obvious public knowledge," Merdinger says.

Users, however, shouldn't get in a snit about VOIP calls that are often unencrypted and therefore easier to listen in on. Unless attackers are targeting a specific user, it is much simpler to find useful information sent by the user or held on the phone than to listen in on calls, even if you're the NSA.

"Most attackers are going to go after text information -- much easier to parse for the juicy information," says Merdinger.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive