How safe is it to make a call over the Internet?
Concerns over the security of using the Internet to make calls is one of the few things affecting the growing popularity of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the ability to make calls over data networks such as the Internet.
Many consumer VoIP services do not come with encryption, so it is not difficult to listen in on a VoIP call.
The same dangers apply for VoIP services working over companies' data networks. When you add voice applications to companies' networks, you open a back door that hackers could access, warns Orion Telecom MD Jacques du Toit. Du Toit says VoIP systems must therefore have the same layers of protection as companies' other network systems.
Dave Gale, business development manager at telecom firm Storm, agrees. He says if a company decides to use a VoIP system, it must apply the same security facilities, such as firewalls, that are used to protect its other networks.
However, Gale says concerns over the security of VoIP are a bit of a storm in a teacup. "What's to stop someone from going into a manhole and tapping into a Telkom line?" he asks.
Gale has good reason to be sceptical about security concerns. In a security assessment of Storm's facilities, the person doing a security sweep asked to see the room housing Telkom's equipment and was allowed in without too many question's being asked.
Security must be an all-encompassing function that does not focus on one particular area such as VoIP, Gale says.
Gale is not alone in playing down the security concerns in using VoIP. "Yes, there is spam and fraud, but it is not on the same scale as e-mail," says German Internet Industry Association MD Har-ald Summa.
For those businesses still concerned about security, there are solutions. The open-source software community has come up with range of solutions that offers voice encryption based on a combination of technologies in VoIP and virtual private network technology (VoIP VPN).
A VPN technology is a private communications network used by several companies to communicate confidentially over a publicly accessible network such as the Internet.
About the Author
Storm Telecommunications' virtual private networks products bring you peace of mind when it comes to managing and monitoring your ever growing network.
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