Internet Voice (VoIP) Vulnerabilities

Internet Voice, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Internet telephony, is a relatively new technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. Depending on the provider, VoIP can have several advantages over conventional phone service, such as a flat rate for long distance calls and no extra charge for popular features such as caller ID and voice mail. To use it, you need both a broadband connection and a provider that offers VoIP.

However, like any communications technology, VoIP has its drawbacks, so be sure to note the following before you sign up for VoIP service. These are only a few of the vulnerabilities that need to be remedied as this technology evolves:

  • VoIP works over the Internet, so it has inherited all of the Internet’s vulnerabilities; e.g., denial-of-service attacks.
  • Current online security measures can’t adequately handle VoIP processing requirements. Using these measures results in delay or poor connections for your calls.
  • A VoIP voicemail or conversation is simply a digital file that can be misused like any other. For example, if your conversations are intercepted by hackers, they can be copied and widely distributed.
  • Voicemail boxes, like email accounts, can be targeted by spammers delivering SPIT (SPam over Internet Telephony). But changing a telephone number to avoid SPIT can be far more disruptive than getting a different email address to avoid spam.
  • Older firewalls cannot work interactively with VoIP and may leave open many more ports than VoIP actually uses for a transmission, leaving your machine vulnerable to hackers.
  • You cannot make a direct 911 call using some VoIP services. In addition, caller ID does not work with some of them, so emergency personnel may not be able to pinpoint your location when you need help.
  • During a power outage, your conventional phone may continue to work, but some VoIP services won’t. Although you can use VoIP with your phone and an adapter even if your computer is not turned on, your broadband service must also be working.
  • Using VoIP with a wireless connection raises additional security concerns.

For more information on VoIP, see: