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Public and Private Sectors Working Together to Secure VoIP

July 26, 2013
By Ashok Bindra - Virtual Office Resource Contributor

Voice communications over the Internet has surged significantly in last couple of years. As a result, VoIP phones are proliferating around the world. With the vulnerability of the Internet, the attacks on VoIP phones are also on the rise. In fact, study shows that hackers are exploiting distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to cripple VoIP service.

A recent report in Los Angeles Times indicates that hackers are using DDOS attacks to shut down hospitals, 911 call centers, fire departments and other public safety agencies. The report suggests that DDOS is a popular method because it can compromise the performance of hundreds or thousands of computers in a network by obstructing their communication so that they are unavailable for legitimate communications.

The report shows that the frequency of such attacks is on the rise, mainly used by scammers. However, it is a worrisome situation for security experts and law enforcement officials because such tools can easily fall into the hands of malicious hackers and terrorists, who can use it to shut down infrastructure like hospitals and 911 call centers, wrote LA Times reporter Paresh Dave.

Frank Artes, chief technology architect at information security firm NSS Labs and a cybercrime advisor for federal agencies, told Dave that he has not seen this problem escalate to national security level yet. “But, it could if an attack happens during a major disaster or someone expires due to an attack," said Artes.

As per this report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to talk about such attacks. However, the Department made a statement that said, “the department was working with private and public sector partners to develop effective mitigation and security responses."

Typical firewalls, which are designed to block calls from specific telephone numbers, are less effective against Internet calls because hackers can delete phone numbers and create new ones easily and quickly. To fight such attacks, federal officials recently began working with telecommunications companies to develop a caller identification system for the Web, wrote Dave. According to Dave, such efforts have the potential to suppress more than just DDoS attacks. It can prevent fraud, including spoofing and swatting calls.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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