NIST raises VoIP concerns

"NIST Special Publication 800-58: Security Considerations for Voice over IP Systems"

Related Links

Government administrators may not understand the complexity of installing security systems for Internet telephony, a new government study suggests.

Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a Jan. 5 report that examines security vulnerabilities in Internet-based telephone systems and raises concerns about an emerging technology that otherwise appears to offer many advantages over traditional telephone networks. Security concerns described in the 99-page report suggest that the cost and complexity of installing such systems is greater than people realize.

Many government agencies, including the Defense Information Systems Agency, plan to use voice-over-IP networks. Military commanders rely heavily on such systems in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some administrators mistakenly assume that they can plug voice-over-IP components into a secure network and have secure voice communications. But the report's authors say that security measures such as firewalls and encryption used in traditional data networks are incompatible with current Internet-based telephone systems and can cause serious deterioration in the voice quality possible on such systems.

The report states that "essential telephone services, unless carefully planned, deployed and maintained, will be at greater risk if based on voice over IP." For example, data networks must be adapted by adding firewalls designed specifically for voice over IP.

To compensate for the current security vulnerabilities of voice-over-IP technology, NIST officials made several recommendations, including:

Creating separate subnetworks for voice and data traffic on IP networks, each with their own dynamic host configuration protocol servers.

Ensuring that 911 emergency service is available.

Securing physical access to the network's voice components to prevent unauthorized eavesdropping on conversations.

Featured

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.