Europe's IT directors doubt VoIP security

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Almost half of European IT directors believe VoIP networks are “inherently insecure”, with the figure rising to 56 percent among computing professionals working in the financial sector, newly published research has claimed.

According to the study, commissioned by European business communications company Viatel, DoS attacks and viruses are viewed by IT directors as the most significant VoIP security threats (53 percent). This is due to such attacks leading to lost revenues, system downtime, lost productivity and unplanned maintenance costs. The second most significant perceived threat (25 percent) identified by the survey is eavesdropping - where those connected to the IP network hack into important calls.

Not surprisingly, those in financial services (44 percent) see this as a greater threat than those in other sectors, possibly due to the highly sensitive information they are discussing.

The research also showed that organizations viewed the hacking of VoIP systems for free calls and spam as the least significant threats. Despite its being considered as less of a threat than DoS attacks and viruses, 14 percent of companies considered spam their most significant threat, suggesting it might become a growing concern for companies.

The study also found that - despite these continued security concerns - firms are not put off from adopting converged voice/data technology. Some two-thirds of IT mangers responding to the poll said they do not see the perceived security issues as a deterrent.

Respondents indicated that they see the estimated 50-percent cost savings and advanced functionality of VoIP as a significant enough reason to make the switch and override their security fears. In addition, companies are apparently comfortable with the reliability of VoIP - with two-thirds (67 percent) of those questioned saying they believe today's IP networks are robust enough to carry voice. That percentage rose to an astounding 80 percent in the financial services sector.

"There has been a lot of discussion recently about the VoIP security. Yet, in reality, when you cut through all the hype, securing voice traffic really isn't any different from securing data traffic - it's all about ensuring your IP network is secure," said Roberto Bonanzinga, senior vice president of business development and marketing for Viatel.

"However, there are some key security measures that companies should follow to put their minds at rest, such as encrypting voice traffic, running it over a VPN, making sure firewalls are properly configured and choosing a provider where you don't have to completely overhaul your firewall configuration," he said.

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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