Are IP phone systems secure?

Before the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard could connect its new voice-over-IP

(VOIP) phone system, which runs on the yard's internal data network, to

the public telephone system, it had to have the system's security approved

by the Navy's security specialists.

"We wanted to be sure that this gateway didn't create any security risks,"

said Stephen Sasaki, the assistant to the chief information officer at the

yard.

The first step was getting a white paper from Cisco Systems Inc., the

supplier of the voice-over-IP solution, that explained why the risks of

intrusion were minimal. "It's not a security risk because there is no way

for that interface to support anything but inbound voice calls," said Mike

Rau, Cisco's director of systems engineering for federal sales. "If you

had a modem and tried to dial into that VOIP gateway, there's no modem in

it to terminate that call. Both ends have to have modems."

The Navy has apparently agreed with this assessment and has given the

project the go-ahead.

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