BorderWare tackles VoIP security

BorderWare has unveiled SIPassure, which it claims is the first firewall to protect against voice over internet protocol (VoIP) security exploits. The vendor is using the annual DEMO conference in the US to showcase the product.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  February 14, 2005

BorderWare has unveiled SIPassure, which it claims is the first firewall to protect against voice over internet protocol (VoIP) security exploits. The vendor is using the annual DEMO conference in the US to showcase the product. The SIP-based technology is designed to protect VoIP communications from hackers, spoofers and malicious threats. BorderWare claims the VoIP industry is on a global growth path. Nearly one out of five U.S. Internet users says they will likely upgrade their traditional phone service by subscribing to VoIP. In a recent survey of more than 300 mid-size businesses and large-enterprises, market researcher In-Stat, found that 23% of decision-maker respondents said they had already deployed wireless VoIP in some manner, and another 30% said that they were planning or evaluating the implementation of the technology within the next six to twelve months. However industry vendors and researchers have begun to sound the alarm that VoIP is vulnerable to a number of exploits. “With SIP, your firewall is like a Swiss cheese,” says Jean-Louis Previdi, senior vice president and research director, EMEA Meta Group. “For SIP to work effectively, you have to open all ports of the firewall, so the protocol can browse and choose a port to initiate a session, which compromises security.” Vendors have formed the VoIP Security Alliance (VOIPSA) to raise awareness, offer research and product security testing. “As the VoIP revolution unfolds, users need to be aware of the many exploits that could compromise their next Internet call,” says Chris Shipley, DEMO executive producer. “BorderWare's VoIP security technology guards against many of the pitfalls associated with the adoption and deployment of this new communications technology. BorderWare's SIPassure has the potential to make VoIP a safe option for everyone,” he adds. BorderWare will demonstrate how VoIP communications facilitated through the industry standard Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) are vulnerable to a series of application-level exploits including Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks that can consume large amounts of bandwidth in a VoIP network, grinding it to a halt. Eavesdropping and 'man-in-the-middle' attacks that allow hackers to become part of a VoIP call without the communicating parties ever knowing someone is listening in. Call Redirection, which enables a hacker to automatically call-forward a connection to their system. Malicious Calling, VBombing and VoIP Spam, which are nefarious attacks that flood the receiver with hundreds of false voice mails within seconds. Spoofing, Phishing or Fake Caller ID, in which a hacker can masquerade as a trusted person making legitimate voice calls to an unsuspecting patron. “While the industry works to secure voice communications at the transport layer with VPN-type encryption, hackers are developing tools that attack Internet calls at the application layer, gaining unauthorized access to a VoIP connection,” says John Alsop, Chairman, BorderWare. “To protect VoIP communications at the application layer you need a SIP firewall that is able to authenticate the user attempting to make a connection and to provide systems administrators with the ability to easily set and enforce their VoIP security policies,” he adds. BorderWare is also taking steps to raise awareness of its offering regionally. “It’s an important issue for the Middle East and we are partnering with voice vendors such as Cisco and Avaya in order to raise awareness in the region,” says Dean Bell, regional director, BorderWare. “VoIP is a powerful tool if it is deployed correctly, it can allow users to take their corporate telephone extensions around the world. However, as more people use the technology and the SIP protocol, it presents another potential loophole for hackers to infiltrate the network,” he adds.

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