VoIP - open season for hackers

7 out of 10 calls vulnerable to attack

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Sensitive data sent using VoIP is vulnerable to attack because call centres are failing to secure their networks robustly enough, according to new research.

Customers' private details could be easily hacked into using the wiretapping method with a staggering 7 out of 10 calls open to attack, said security company Scanit, which audited data transfer at various busy call centres and service providers.

It found lax security for networks at call centres which deal with thousands of calls from around the world and was able to pick up data that included tone-dial PIN numbers used to access phone banking services.

Research also revealed that many companies were left vulnerable to attack because of common-held assumptions that security measures had already been put in place by VoIP vendors on the network.

"Administrators at these places lacked adequate skills and understanding of the security aspects of setting a VoIP network up. They relied on the vendor or system integrator to secure it," said Scanit engineer Sheran Gunasekera.

He also said that "many networks were even running VoIP without encryption."

The research also pointed to the availibility of simple to use free software that can be easily downloaded and installed to pick up unprotected conversations and Gunasekera warned that "one program, called WireShark, detects VoIP calls as they traverse a network, while another, Cain & Abel, records them onto a hard drive, like an MP3."

Selling personal details is increasingly becoming a lucrative business with call staff being offered up to £5 to dish out private data, as a result the researchers conclude that companies should sit up and listen to legitimate security concerns regarding VoIP networks or face severe consequences.

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