New Firm Examines VoIP Security

A new company, UM Labs Ltd, has been created to address the growing need for effective security for Voice over IP (VoIP) and Unified Messaging (UM) Security. The founders of UM Labs are experienced Internet Security professionals, Peter Cox and Stuart Morrice.

UM say the adoption rate of VoIP and UM is growing; fuelled by the promise of greater flexibility, integration with other applications and more cost effective service delivery. However, concerns over of the security of these applications are preventing many organisations from fully adopting the service and failing to realise the potential benefits. These concerns are founded partly on confusion over the scope and types of security threat that face the applications and partly over a lack of easy to use security products.

UM Labs was founded to address this problem by providing a range of easy to use, cost effective products that deliver effective security for VoIP and UM to users ranging from small business and branch offices through large enterprises to service providers and telco operators.

Peter Cox CEO of UM Labs commented, “The security model applied to many VoIP networks is one of isolation, physically separating Voice and Data or using VLANS to keep them apart and preventing any external IP connections. Unfortunately separation sacrifices many of the benefits of VoIP and makes Unified Messaging and the integration of all communication applications impossible.”

“Until this problem is addressed, VoIP networks will not deliver their full set of potential benefits. The first step to solving this problem is to recognise that VoIP is a specialist application requiring a specialist approach to security. Standard Firewall products do not do a good job at securing VoIP. At best they complicate the deployment of VoIP at worst they present so many barriers that it is virtually impossible to deliver a VoIP service without compromising the security of other applications.”

“It should come as no surprise that the best way to secure applications such as VoIP and UM is to deploy a specialist security gateway. Both web and email have spawned their own security markets, in each market there are a number of products delivering security controls that standard Firewalls cannot deliver.”

The goal of UM Labs is to enable each VoIP network to delivery its full potential set of benefits by providing products that implement a more realistic security model. This security model recognises that VoIP networks need external connections to enable SIP trunk connections and to safely extend the service to home workers, roaming uses and branch offices.

To reach this goal, UM Labs will launch a range of security gateways through 2008. Each product will secure VoIP applications based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and other UM applications. The first release is designed to secure remote VoIP connections to home users and roaming workers and to provide security for SIP trunk services.

Security controls include firewall grade IP level security coupled with application specific security controls designed to combat threats such as VoIP call hijacking, call flooding and unauthorised call monitoring. The latter is provided by VoIP encryption services using the industry standards TLS and SRTP with a choice of key management algorithms to support the widest possible range of hardware and software phones. Supported key management algorithms include Phil Zimmermann’s ZRTP and SDES as used by Snom and other phone manufacturers.

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