VOIP Security Poses a Problem

VOIP is all the rage, but data center managers could be in for a rough time preparing for security threats

June 24, 2004

2 Min Read
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CHICAGO Supercomm 2004 – Security has always been a major headache for telecom data centers, but the emergence of VOIP could make this worse, according to experts attending this year’s Supercomm event in Chicago.

As opposed to traditional telecom networks, which use circuit switches to transfer calls, IP-based VOIP networks rely heavily on enterprise data gear. Running VOIP across routing and switching equipment means that ports are often left open to allow the passage of VOIP traffic, which could expose backend data center servers to security threats such as viruses and denial-of-service attacks.

“In a more VOIP-oriented business, your ports are open all the time, so you have the potential for receiving errant packets that cause network disruption,” says Tom Gage, senior vice president and general manager of VeriSign Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN).

Gage says that many telecom firms have yet to develop the skills required to tackle this problem. “Traditional carriers don’t have many skills when it comes to addressing the security issues in a VOIP environment.”

Security vendors like TippingPoint Technologies Inc. and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) are addressing some of these issues within their product families, but it appears that telecom firms could have their work cut out (see Vendor Points to VOIP Vulnerabilities).Jon Oltsik, senior analyst of information security at the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., says, “If you’re implementing a VOIP solution, you have to re-architect your network or look at the network architecture to make sure that you can handle the latency and also complement that with security -- it’s a double-edged sword.”

All this points to the fact that VOIP is still an emerging technology. Eric Helthall, managing director at Bechtel Telecommunications, believes that data center managers are coming under real pressure when it comes to ensuring that their data centers are sufficiently robust and scaleable.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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