ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Zeus Kerravala | August 04, 2010 |

 
   

Is it Finally Time to Consider UC Security?

Is it Finally Time to Consider UC Security? SIP trunking, new architectures, and standards adoption will all change the security picture--making enterprises more vulnerable.

SIP trunking, new architectures, and standards adoption will all change the security picture--making enterprises more vulnerable.

Securing VoIP and UC traffic has been a topic that our industry has danced around for many years now, but we’ve never really taken this topic all that seriously. I think I wrote my first VoIP security report in 2003 or possibly even earlier, where I looked at all the things that could go wrong, and there are many. The risks are somewhat sizable too. Yankee Group research shows that, depending on the vertical, an hour of downtime for an IP PBX could be as much as $2 million. However, despite the industry hype, the possible risks and threats, the security market for communications technology is almost nothing. So why is that?

One of the main reasons is that network and telecom managers don’t feel that there's a huge risk when it comes to communications, and with legacy architectures, that's somewhat true. Until recently, most IP PBX and UC deployments have had the IP portion isolated to the internal network only. So, typical deployment is to run IP and SIP on the line side of the IP PBX and then everything that is trunk facing is traditional old PSTN stuff; with the IP environment isolated to the internal network, the risk level is minimal.

I also think the VoIP security industry itself has done a poor job of helping customers understand what the real threats are and what they aren't. Things like denial of service attacks (which can cause outages), toll fraud and eavesdropping are real threats, but issues like voice phishing and spam over IP (SPIT) are a little harder for people to grasp. What I've seen out of the VoIP security is that most of the vendors there make all of the security issues urgent instead of picking the two or three issues that could cause the most damage. When 50 things are all critical then really nothing is because it’s too big a problem to address.

The first issue I mentioned is the big barrier, though, and the architecture used to support VoIP and UC is changing. SIP trunking has been on fire over the past 12 months (look at the performance of Acme Packet stock). I've had more inquiries in the past 12 months regarding SIP trunking than in the past 10 years combined. SIP trunking was also a hot topic at the last VoiceCon and will continue to gain momentum. SIP trunking is tremendously powerful as it helps streamline the architecture, creates flexibility and extends the IP connectivity all the way to the telco cloud. However, the extension of IP all the way to the cloud now removes the natural security barrier that was in place with the old architecture.

Additionally, all of the new systems such as Avaya Aura, Cisco Session Manager and other similar products are designed to have all the call control capabilities collapsed down into one or two data centers instead of having the telephony capabilities dispersed across the organization. That means anyone who hacks into the IP PBX has information across the whole organization. Under the "old architecture", if you hacked into the IP PBX you would have visibility to that local branch only. So again, the risk level is up.



COMMENTS


Who's Who at Enterprise Connect

NEC

Featured This Week:
Sponsored By


April 24, 2014
Small centers are both excited and nervous about the new wave of innovation converging on them as major disruptive forces - cloud, mobile, big data and social - rock the contact center world. They rea...
April 9, 2014
Recent advances in cloud technology have given rise to wide variety of new tools designed to support contact center performance, staffing and reporting. Join us for a live webinar focused on helping c...
March 26, 2014
As more organizations are focused on maximizing customer experience as a key differentiator to stay ahead of the competition and customer expectations, the focus needs to be on interactions across mul...

Sign up to the No Jitter email newsletters

  • Catch up with the blogs, features and columns from No Jitter, the online community for the IP communications industry. Each Thursday, we'll send you a synopsis of the high-impact articles, podcasts and other material posted to No Jitter that week, with links for quick access.

  • A quick hit of original analysis by the experts who bring you Enterprise Connect, the leading event in Enterprise Communications & Collaboration. Each Wednesday, this enewsletter delivers to your email box a thought-provoking, objective take on the latest news and trends in the industry.

Your email address is required for membership. For details about the user information, please read the UBM Privacy Statement

As an added benefit, would you like to receive relevant 3rd party offers about new products/services and discounted offers via email? Yes

* = Required Field

No longer instrested? Unsubscribe here.