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VoIP's Security Vulnerabilities 117

Posted by Zonk
from the is-your-refridgerator-running dept.
garzpacho writes "Experts predict that attacks on VoIP systems could be right around the corner, and are calling for preemptive security measures. The BusinessWeek article compares the current state of voice-over-IP to the pre-spam email era and suggests that spammers could be the first to exploit the system. From the article: 'Here's what VoIP security breaches could mean for consumers. For starters, it's a big channel for spammers. Think of the Viagra ads that flood your e-mail inboxes now. They work because the cost of e-mailing thousands of people at once is so low, only 1% to 3% or so need to respond for it to be worth it, Ingevaldson says. Comparable economics apply to VoIP calls, he says. Then there are potential phishing attacks, where fraudsters posing as banks lead consumers to fake sites. Those and other attempts at identity theft could spring up via VoIP accounts too, experts say. Imagine the messages from relatives of deposed Nigerian dictators -- only this time they're on voice mail, too.'"
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VoIP's Security Vulnerabilities

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  • "By the time this becomes Grandma's problem, it's too late"

    Spam in her voice mail box? Yuck. My poor grandma.
    • You're assuming Grandma figures out how to work the new Computer Telephone thingy. I'm all for consumer responsibility, but if companies would quit their marketing mumbo jumbo about every tech-based new idea and try to actually educated the masses as to how the thing works, be up front what it's strengths/weaknesses are, etc. (or if we as tech-based people would help out all those non-techies out there), we'd probably be in better shape. "What, I'm not supposed to just click OK? But everytime you fix my
      • but Grandma ... that's why I went to schoool ... to learn which OK buttons are OK to press!
        • by richdun (672214)
          Great point - as ridiculous as it may sound, it's like driving a car. You have to learn how to drive and then take a test to get a license (let's for the sake of argument not get into how effective the testing and licensing process is in ensure that you are actually a good, safe driver). We don't want children doing even menial household chores like operating the gas stove that could incinerate your entire house or the washing machine that could flood your entire basement without proper instruction. Why
  • Think of the Viagra ads that flood your e-mail inboxes now....only this time they're on voice mail, too.

    this time a sweet female voice will make me buy it... Oh Shit. Where are you taking me today?

    • with a sweet female voice saying "Hi Ambsoien Levoiitra VALlUqqM fzbrom ojwnly $hz1,2xp1 Xutanax Sorqma Meridpaia VlAdiGRA frmhom orpnly $vw3,3zx3 CzslALlS frlaom onlwly $xw3,7ww5 Prykozac"
      You'll need an answering machine with flailing arms that says "Danger Will Robinson, Danger, messaage may be grabbled without a CSS2 compliant user agent, Danger Will Robinson, Danger."
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@OOOopto ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:36AM (#15524385) Journal

    Of course, there is a difference between potential threats and ones VoIP consumers are actually facing today. So far, much of this is theoretical--much like fears of mass viruses on mobile phones and disastrous phishing attacks over instant-message systems (see BusinessWeek.com, 1/5/06, "IM Security Is One Tough Sell"). VoIP attacks remain rare, although Gartner says Skype has made four big patches to vulnerabilities in the last 18 months.

    And while it is all just theoretical, you know someone will eventually get their jollies figuring out how to hack VoIP and create a lane for spammers in the process. Going to VoIP removes a lot of the natural barriers that protect us from telemarketting calls now, and creates new vulnerabilities. There will be a lot more Caller ID spoofing; I can even conceive of someone creating malware that would be planted on your system and track the numbers you frequently call, to build spam call trees and more importantly to get ids and numbers you might trust so you would actually answer the calls. The possibilities are staggering.

    • I agree that sip/voip telemarketing is right around the corner.

      But the rest of it I just don't understand. How would your doomsday scenario work? A user needs either a soft or hardware sip telephone and probably a voip aware firewall.

      If they just use the phone, I'm unclear where the payload comes from. In packets? Maybe, but it would require a PC to use.
    • figuring out how to hack VoIP and create a lane for spammers in the process

      a lane on the... INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY?! oh noes!

  • At lease they (engineers and techs) are thinking ahead this time. They need to head this one off at the pass. All of this new technology is great but it is also a means for the wicked to exercise thier craft. I solved the spam problem a long time ago. It's called 'delete'. If they use voice mail, then a text message with then name or number of the caller needs to be read so you can use 'delete'. Better yet, you need an option: if no caller ID - no voice mail allowed.
  • in having a Vonage ad under an article about VOIP security risks?
    • Give them a call. I bet they'll say something like we own and control all the equipment (no you can't get the password for the unit on your desk), we disabled all the peering so you either get calls from other POT lines or as we mentioned earlier the equipment we control so no anonymous from the internet SIP calls.

      I even had an [discussion] with a salesman with Charter a couple months back. He was trying to tell me that the telephone service they sell isn't VoIP. If it walks like a duck and talks like

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:38AM (#15524408) Homepage Journal

    Yet Again, I say: use public key crypto and a web-of-trust to authenticate that a call is from somebody who has a reputation to lose.

    Nothing to lose? Then the call is lowest priority, probably the bit bucket unless you're expecting an unverified call, or you're just bored and feel like risking a talk with a telemarketer.

    (Sorry, it's not my fault that so many current topics are related to problems that PK happens to solve. Really, I do know that there is more to life than spreading-the-gospel-of-openpgp.)

    • A few thoughts to the contrary:

      1) Until someone has called you once before, or you've talked to them in some out-of-band way, you have no way of knowing what your friends/relatives/etc keys are. So, unless everyone who might contact you is quite technical, you will likely *always* be accepting unsigned calls. If you're accepting unsigned calls anyway, why bother setting up the keys?

      2) Given peoples propensity to re-build systems (sometimes forced by bit-rot), personal keys will rotate rather often. When
      • Until someone has called you once before, or you've talked to them in some out-of-band way, you have no way of knowing what your friends/relatives/etc keys are.

        True, unless you use web-of-trust, in which case it's sufficient that they've talked to someone you've talked to etc.

        Or unless there's some server you trust enough that you'll take thats servers word for the link between a certain email-adress and a certain public-key, and you know the email-adress of your friends/relatives/etc.

        Setting up a se

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Webs of trust are easily compromised, just look at your average email worm.

          Currently it goes..

          Step 1: Infect PC
          Step 2: Extract email addresses from email client
          Step 3: Propogate!!

          With PK it becomes..

          Step 1: Infect PC
          Step 2: Compromise keys through passphrase capture
          Step 3: Extract email addresses
          Step 4: Propogate!!

          Heck, if you used the same key to sign your emails as your VOIP headers (not a bad idea under a Grand Unified PK Scheme) then getting bitten by an email worm means your friends are open to
      • That's just a UI issue. I installed GnuPG, and an exention for mail. GUI's exist for GnuPG, and then anyone can use it.
    • I think I've found your problem...

      Instead of telling people who matter, you're just posting it on Slashdot. No matter how many times you sound like a broken record, you're not going to get anything done here, buddy.

      In any case, how do you know about somebody's key before they've called you first? With your system, every time a new person got a VOIP phone, I'd have to go though my "low priority" calls anyway, and your system has solved nothing.
      • Instead of telling people who matter, you're just posting it on Slashdot.

        Noted. I have tried explaining this stuff to my hippie non-geek (but still somewhat-suspicious-of-government) girlfriend, and it's harder than I thought it would be. I don't have a clue how to get the message out to Joe Sixpack.

        In any case, how do you know about somebody's key before they've called you first?

        Web of Trust. There are tens of thousands of nerds [cs.uu.nl] whom I have never met or communicated with in any way, whose PGP keys

  • by w33t (978574) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:39AM (#15524417) Homepage
    Am I correct in assuming much of this spam will originate internationally (meaning outside the US and major European countries)?

    I would imagine that the "do not call" registry will still apply to VOIP and that national companies will still have to abide by it.

    If this is the case, could not a VOIP inbox be set to filter unsollicited international calls to a spam-inbox?

    Yes, I understand that there is still the possibility that an unsolicited, international call may be warrented for some or even many - but this seems like at least one way of combating the enevitable deluge of voice advertisement.
    • hmm will the do not call registry apply if the call never touches pots?

      and ofc you can always call from out of country while sticking within the same voip provider (generally making the call both free and hard to identify as international)
    • No, the majority of calls will be originating, from the point of view of your computer, from compromised American boxes. See, for example, the recent case where someone ran up $1 million of charges on some businesses VoIP account by reselling the service. Granted, these compromised boxes will be taking dictation from servers in China which are pointed to by proxies in Russia which were purchased from the Mafia by a marketer in Miami... but your computer will only see "Betsy Sue, 555-555-5555, Anytown, USA
  • Turing test! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jackjeff (955699)
    What is bad about email is that it's not always obvious to know whether some email is spam or not. And there is also the risk of phising.

    Obviously it's no concern here. If they have to make it cheap, they'll use no operator and revert to pre-recorded messages. You will know right away if the person is "human" or a "recorded message"... as long as machines fail the Turing test :)

    There is nothing new about it. Junk calls existed before VOIP.
    • Don't some humans fail the test too?

      When they do the compertition don't they have an award for the most computerlike human aswell as most human computer?
    • So when you've just been hauled out of the shower, been called away from your favourite tv prog, interrupted in your meal, it will be OK because you'll know as soon as you answer it.
  • Now i accept that there are security concerns regarding interception, and consequently authentication/identification/billing and a whole host of other stuff. But did the author actually read that line about spammers? Email is an inappropriate analogy - mobile phone networks are a much better guide to the kind of abuses you will see. I don't currently get voice mail messages from His Rt Hon Umbago De ConArtist (could be a good laugh though), but i do get all sorts of "would i like to change my mobile tarif"
  • Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:47AM (#15524500)
    VoIP is more like the pre-spam IM era than the pre-spam e-mail era. And guess what. We're past the pre-spam IM era and it isn't even close to a problem. I get a spam IM about once every few months, if not rarer, and all it contains is an obfuscated link to some camgirl website or something (I haven't clicked, I'm just guessing).

    VoIP, like IM, is a medium that does not lend itself to spam. What can they do, hire telemarketers? You can't very well robot a voice system. And because each system, like IM, is closed within a company, unless that company itself is spamming, they will quickly close down the accounts of anyone who spams because it's easy for them to track.
    • I get spam on Y!Messenger, on myspace, on ICQ on the rare occasion that I connect to that network... It's not a problem or anything, outside of occasionally viewing a NSFW profile.
    • You can't very well robot a voice system

      Hi, this is Super Annoying Incorporated. We sell V14gr/\! Press 1 to buy (forwards to waiting agent), or visit our website at superannoying.com!

      Might be easier for annoyed callees to DDOS, and the requirement to have a short URL might be difficult to meet, but it's certainly possible to advertise by an automated system. Stock pumping spams would also be very easily automated.

      • Hi, this is Super Annoying Incorporated. We sell V14gr/\! Press 1 to buy (forwards to waiting agent), or visit our website at superannoying.com!

        While your response is definitely funny, several co-workers and I just got a call a few days ago exactly like this from Comcast in Philadelphia. I consisted of a 2-3 minute recorded message letting us know how Comcastic they were and allowing us to press 1 to hear their new cable offers, or press 2 to hear about their new overpriced VoIP phone service...etc. Sad.

    • I get a spam IM about once every few months, if not rarer, and all it contains is an obfuscated link to some camgirl website or something (I haven't clicked, I'm just guessing).

      I'll agree that I very rarely get IM spam --- and I subscribe to five different accounts, including ICQ --- but have you visited a Yahoo chat room recently? It's... unfortunate. Rooms will contain 30 bots (usually spamming in 48pt blink red) and, if you're lucky, maybe three actual people. They're practically unusable.

    • I hope you are right. However, there is one problem with what you said: user accounts. With VoIP, you don't *need* user accounts. Download any one of the free SIP phones, for example, and you'll notice that you can directly phone someone's IP address. This makes VoIP spamming (Spit, as some people call it) easier than email spamming.

      We're talking about:

      for i in do
      dial i
      done

      It's as simple as that for most purposes. Even easier if you have access to a list of usernames (In the sa
  • The attack on VoIP systems started last week -- in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • and are calling for pre-emptive security measures.
    Hey, you! ...Yes, you, with the fancy "pre-emptive security mesures!" DO you know where you are? This is the Internet, darnit, and we just don't do that sort of thing around here! We've got a reputation to protect, after all. Now, get outta here kid, ya bother me.
  • Fortunately, VoIP is also more like e-mail than like the traditional phone system in that filtering should be a lot easier. Ever tried to get a traditional phone company to block a phone number from calling you? Some companies will charge you extra for the privilege, while others (especially cell phone companies) will refuse to do so at all. On the other hand, VoIP companies have no excuse - the request is rather obviously implementable in software, perhaps even programmable into the user's phone, and ca
    • Except that VoIP providers are just as unlikely to give you administrative access to your endpoint (your Cisco, Sipura, Telco, or whatever box). So, they would have to set it up for you. And they will (more than likely) be just as unresponsive and unwilling simpy because they don't have the support staff to handle the request.

      VoIP prices are too low for any serious support infrastructure to exist as well. If you ever talk with anybody who works for Vonage or any other large VoIP proider in a technical ca
      • There is a method around this. A few, actually.

        - The VoIP provider could decide it's enough of a feature to implement, and even devote some GUI space to.
        - Hackers could reverse engineer the VoIP provider's protocol and implement their own client, which would almost certainly have that feature.
        - The VoIP provider, to cut costs, uses an open source solution that already has a good client with this feature and merely rebrands the client, at most.

        Really, requiring a particular VoIP client is much like requiring
      • But with VoIP service, internet access is a given. The VoIP companies can then implement these features and make them customer-configurable with a handy web interface. But you do have a point - when Sprint hires a guy in India to read questions to me off a screen and choose the multiple-choice answer that sounds closest to my response, rather than putting it on the web and letting me navigate through it myself, how can we expect a phone company to let the end user handle anything?

    • I think you have it the wrong way round. Unfortunately, VoIP is also more like e-mail than like the traditional phone system. The problem you experience with traditional phone companies and number blocking is not so much a technological one, more a beaurocratical one - you even mention that traditional phone companies will perform this service (for a charge), so it can't be a technological barrier at all. They just don't want to get into the habit of providing such a service, so price it accordingly (or ev
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:52AM (#15524551)

    E-mail brought us basically free international communication with text and images and attachments. Having to filter spam is a very small price to pay, especially since my off the shelf bayesian filtering (combined with temporary accounts for commercial transactions) lets through one or two "maybes" a year. If I can have basically free voice/video communication around the world, I'll gladly put up with having to secure that as well. Anything off my white-list can go to the "maybe" pile and be routed to voicemail unless I feel like taking random calls. ISPs are already implementing security to prevent spoofing. And I already use voice and video communication without any problems. Really, this is a minor inconvenience that comes with a major advance.

  • Whitelist Only (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bahwi (43111) <incoming&josephguhlin,com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:53AM (#15524561) Homepage
    I know wish Asterisk it should be possible to set up a database centric version of a whitelist, and only allow those calls in. All others are given infinite rings, or route-to-ex.

    Maybe the time is now to start this. If they have your #, they should have your email, IM, and there should be a web address with a captcha that gives 24 hour access or something? Maybe that's what it should do instead of infinite ring, "To access my phone, please go to www.whatever.com and type in the number you are trying to dial, and follow the instructions. Thank You."

    • Parent says: "[Spam can be sent via] route-to-ex"


      Kool. So I route all my voice spam to that bitch? Where do I sign? How much? (Not that I care, I just need to note it down.)

    • by patio11 (857072)
      I hate challenge/response systems with a burning passion. Every time I get a C/R email it might as well have Subject: My Time Is More Valuable Than Your Time. I would be pretty incensed if businesses I had to call implemented this -- its bad enough that I have to deal with menu heck to get to an actual human being if I dial the generic tech support line, but if I'm dialing Mr. I Have Your Business Card then I had darn well better get him or his voice mail as soon as the phone picks up. If the matter were
  • from TFA

    "VoIP calls are often routed over the public Internet, and details of those transactions can be spied on by outsiders"

    It compares voip to email and talks of spam and phishing. Intercepting email is not how spammers get email addresses. They get addresses posted online and lists of addresses gotten from people who have used the addresses to sign up for shit. I have an old email acct. that is loaded with spam because I have had it posted online and signed up for stuff. I also have an acct. that is o

    • I have used voip for my home phone for almost two years. I have never gotten a telemarketer or even a wrong number, not once in almost two years. I think this is probably due more to the fact that the number is not listed anywhere. If I don't give it to you it would take a lot of effort to find it.

      Algerath

    • I'm guessing you give out your credit card details to the pizza parlour, which while no more risky than letting a waiter in a restaurant walk off with your card after a meal, is still not perfectly safe yet. But you are right, this is not something to lose sleep over.

      I am, however, surprised that the email address you use for people you know gets no spam. I set up a few of these and they all get some spam, just not nearly as much as my "public" ones. A lot of spam comes from having your friends' PCs become
  • I already have to delete 7 or 8 unsolicited vendor calls from my voicemail every day.
    • solved that problem (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gstovall (22014)
      I solved this problem years ago. I programmed my (VoIP) phone service to respond to all anonymous calls with a message requesting them to put this number on their DO NOT CALL list. Then dropped them immediately into voice mail in case there really WAS something they wanted to say. In the initial voice mails, I heard lots of background noise, and people saying, "Hey! Listen to this!" to their coworkers, but they all got the hint.
  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:56AM (#15524601)
    would they?
  • Imagine the messages from relatives of deposed Nigerian dictators -- only this time they're on voice mail, too.

    I'm not saying I would want hundreds of these calls, but I would love to hear at least one of them. I seem to always put a voice to these poorly-worded emails, as I sit wondering how someone could send out tens of millions of copies of a letter without having someone first proofread the text.

    I guess if there's money in it, the spammer could hire a good voice to make the call that much more appealin
  • by cecom (698048) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:10AM (#15524717) Homepage Journal
    All high-speed Internet providers that I have ever had (Comcast, Yahoo/SBC/AT&T) suffer outages periodically - say, about once every two months for several hours on the average, and this is only the outages that I know about, since I don't use my home computer all the time. Happens at work too - at one time our business DSL was out for two days (thank you "new" AT&T). The electrical power has also been out several times. At the same time I don't remember a single problem with my land line. Note that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so this is a relatively high-tech place.

    You end up depending on both consumer-grade Internet service and electrical power, neither of which is completely reliable. Which is probably OK, esp if you have your cell phone, so I am not advocating against Vonage.

    However it strikes me that people generally do not realize that the Internet connection (as the Internet itself) is not completely reliable. At a trade show a sales person was trying to convince of the benefits of their credit card authorization software, which resides on their own server and is accessible as a web service. The idea is that the consumer pays for a service (e.g. in a hair salon) in advance and then gets to use it for a period of time. Not bad stuff, actually, but that is beside the point. When I told her that I am worried about reliability in case the internet connection is down and the customer will not be able to be authorized for the service they already paid for, she looked at me silly and said: "Ihe Interned connection down ? Does that ever happen?" Duh! It happens!
    • "All high-speed Internet providers that I have ever had (Comcast, Yahoo/SBC/AT&T) suffer outages periodically - say, about once every two months for several hours on the average, and this is only the outages that I know about, since I don't use my home computer all the time. Happens at work too - at one time our business DSL was out for two days (thank you "new" AT&T). The electrical power has also been out several times. At the same time I don't remember a single problem with my land line. Note tha
      • Good point, thanks.

        It also seems to me that regardless of the infrastructure, consumer Internet connections are not treated with the same importance as phones, yet. So the provider will not jump through hoops to avoid a service interruption. Unless it is their own VOIP service :-) Any idea how reliable Comcast's digital phone is ? I used it only briefly a couple of years ago, but had to give up because the quality was terrible (I have no idea why, I suspect it was a local problem in the building).
  • E-mail can be presented in a much more convincing manner than voice mail. Spamming on VOIP would be more akin to telemarketing on traditional phones. E-mail spam is sent en masse and is impersonal.
  • What no one seems to have mentioned is that at least with email you can employ spam filters which do text searches and pattern matches, along with other spam-recognition techniques. It seems impossible that VoIP spam could be filtered this way, thus leading to a glut of voicemail spam which could threaten the viability of VoIP altogether, if the spammers can find a way to do it without being detected.
  • There is a huge difference.
    How much is avg email? about 1kb
    How much would a prerecorded voice msg be?
    You gonna need a lot of bw to send a lot of voice messages and it will take too long...
    Targeted phishing could happen on the other hand.
  • Spam via VoIP is an interesting thought, but how about the more immediate threat of someone, say in some remote country, cloning my SIP and using that to make a load of international phone calls? This would run up my bill very quickly, and every VoIP provider I've checked requires that the account be tied to a credit card. My guess is that if this has already happened, it's been hushed by the VoIP provider, which covered the startled customer's bill to avoid bad publicity. And if it hasn't yet happened,
  • by OlivierB (709839) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:23AM (#15524824)
    Yes sending millions of emails is "free", and so is making unlimited VoiP, but Voip is less unlimited than emails, here's why.

    When you decide to send an email to a group of people from domains A, B and C, where you have multiple recipients in domains A, B and C you only need to send server A one copy of the message with a list of the recipients it handles. The server then spawns copies of this message to all the mailboxes. Theoretically, you only need to make as many connections are there are domains in your distribution list.
    Moreover Spam scales well with bandwith. Meaning a large message will arrive faster with more bandwith, not so much with Voip where you have real-time delivery; i.e. think of Voip as a VCR vs downloading your TV shows as files.

    What this means for Spit is that they need to make individual connections for each recipient (although I know of some email like systems, but that's another story). Also they need to connect with each recipient's server or terminal as long as the message is.
    What this means is that twice as many recipients will cost you twice as much in time and in bandwith for your spit message.

    This fondamental difference is in my opinion a deterrent for any spammer worth his salt willing to reach thousands of recipients.

    Spit doesn't scale well, spammers know that and will not pursue this activity as agressively as spamming.
    • I'm not convinced, though I could be wrong.

      I'm pretty sure that on the voicemail systems I've used it's possible to forward stored voicemails to multiple recipients.

      So:
      - VoIP spammer records "LOL, \/\/e g0t \/!agra ch33p" voice message
      - VoIP spammer saves voice message "for twenty days"
      - VoIP spammer uploads list of skimmed voicemail numbers
      - VoIP spammer automates sending of saved voice message to list of skimmed voicemail numbers
      - profit!

      The recipients phone need not ring, but their "message waiting" ligh
  • You know folks, this isn't a completely alien concept. Why do you think residential phone subscribers can sign up for the federally enforced national "no-call list".

    Just because it's a new technology doesn't mean it's a new idea. It's a shame that people completely overlook the obvious when dealing with new technologies (see Dot Com Bust [wikipedia.org].

    Obviously we are aware there is a problem..Thank you TFA.. Now.. everyone run to your terminal to enterprise off the enterprising SOBs that are going to be haxoring my

  • The current policy at credit card companies is retarded. More than once, I've come home to an answering machine message saying "This is Discover's Anti Fraud unit. We'd like to discuss some recent activity on your card. Please call us at 1-800-555-1212". As soon as you call, they start asking for personal information. ...How the hell am I supposed to know I'm actually talking to Discover? I'd much rather have them send me to a URL (discover.com/fraud) that lists the number, since I at least have *some*
    • AMEN! I had the same experience with a different company, and when I called the 800 number their IVR system didn't even bother to indicate that you had called the right company - it just immediately went in to prompting me to enter my credit card number.

      I must've hung up a dozen times before deciding to simply #, * and 0 my way through their menu system until it finally dumped me to a human being with whom I could ask a question (or two, or three...) before giving any personal information.

      And the kicker

  • by Norbert_05 (982191) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:30PM (#15525584)
    The way SIP works makes voice spam impractical. Basically, a call is set up in two steps. 1) The calling party sends an INVITE message to your provider's PBX / main server / whatever. This would be vonage, or whoever your VOIP provider is. This 'call' connects, and an audio path is established between your provider and the calling party. From the caller's perspective, he has a live, answered, call at this point. 2) your provider sends an INVITE message to your phone. This establishes an audio path from your phone to the carrier. At this stage, the carrier either connects the two audio streams internally, or can use another pair of INVITE messages to direct the audio streams of the two phones to each other. There's no way for the calling party to identify when that second audio stream has been established; from their perspective, the call exists as soon as the provider accepts the initial INVITE message. Obviously, you could start playing audio at that stage, but there's no guarentee someone's actually on the other end of the line. If you're doing a recorded audio play, you're faced with either loosing part of the message, or playing dead air for a while. The only way around this is to dial the direct SIP extension of the customer's phone, but you need know their userext (which is different than their actual phone number) and the IP address of the user's phone, which is highly unlikely since the end user doesn't even have those bits of information (usually) Furthermore, filtering is easy. An INVITE message has to specify a valid IP for the audio stream to be set up. It's trivial to simply block INVITE's from certain IP's in software, if your carrier / phone supports that. Spoofing an IP at this stage is impossible, since that would just prevent the RTP stream from working, and it also makes it easy to figure out who's actually calling you, since you have the IP of the server the audio is coming from. (assuming your provider did the reinvite bit, which virtually all SIP implementations do) That's totally ignoring the much higher bandwidth requirements of transmitting that many audio streams and associated problems with that.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ummmm, no. The INVITE is sent from the calling party to your SIP Register's server. It sends back a TRYING message to the calling party and will then forward the INVITE to your currently registered location(s). Your phone, upon receiving the INVITE, will send a TRYING message back to the SIP proxy. When you pick up your phone, an OK message then flows back to the SIP proxy and back to the calling party. An audio path is then set up directly between you and the calling party. All signalling info goes t
      • It all depends on whether you're connecting through a SBC (Session Border Control), or a standard Registration server.

        If you are dialing from the internet, to a standard PSTN line (or vice-versa) then you are going through an SBC. Essentially, *both* the signalling and media paths get sent to/from the SBC. The SBC then establishes the "other side" of the call. Just to re-iterate, two calls are established, and then virtually joined through the SBC.

        The majority of SBCs that I know of don't answer the local l
    • Right, then.

      Paragraphs, anyone?

  • If you would like to better understand this case, the US Department of Justice has made the information available online:

    They do make for interesting reading and outline how Edwin Pena put his scam together.

    Dan York
    Best Practices Chair, VoIP Security Alliance (VOIPSA) [voipsa.org]
    Producer & Co-host, Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast [blueboxpodcast.com]

  • From TFA:

    ... but not before the problem has succeeded in wreaking havoc. It happened with e-mail and is happening now with instant messaging and mobile devices ...

    From my brain:

    Really? Havoc? C'mon! Yes, spam is a problem, but my email has never been close to a state of "havoc" because of it, and filters came along pretty quickly. No, they don't work as well as I would like, but they work.

    From TFA:

    ... Here's what VoIP security breaches could mean for consumers. For starters, it's a big cha
    • >> Really? Havoc? C'mon! Yes, spam is a problem, but my email has never been close to a state >> of "havoc" because of it, and filters came along pretty quickly. No, they don't work as >> well as I would like, but they work. You're just looking at it from end user point of view. Spam is indeed very costly to the Internet in general, and ISPs in particular. It consumes the lion's share of e-mail bandwidth, it requires every incoming e-mail to be parsed, and requires continually updating
      • mea culpa!

        I was, indeed, just looking at it from an end user point of view. I understand the "social" costs as well, but TFA seemed more focused on scaring the bejaysus out of me as an end user, rather than any reasoned analysis of the true ("social") problem.

        And ... the hype worked! I ignored the "true" problem! (Unless you agree that part of the true problem is the hype.)
  • First all those companies that charge $ for VoIP suck. I'm talking about Skype here. What is nice at this point in the evolution is how only a certain "crowd" are using Skype. This is like the crowd that built free BBSs and other early internet devices before corporate America and every moron were building sites to make a $. I talk to some girl in China for the simple reason that she likes English.. . (she works translating other languages for a company) It's cool to be able to communicate with anybod
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Then there are potential phishing attacks, where fraudsters posing as banks lead consumers to fake sites.

    I don't remember this word for word, but this is the gist...

    Years ago, someone called me (with an Indian accent) and told me they were from my bank, specifically from the fraud investigation unit of my bank. They told me that some suspect activity with my credit card account had been detected and asked if I had made a purchase of x dollars at y vendor. I told them that I had not, so they said that they n
    • The very prolific Anonymous Coward wrote:

      Somehow, someone got at least the following personal information about me, to attempt this attack:

      What bank my credit card was with.
      Card type (VISA, MCRD, AMEX, etc).
      My name.
      My phone number.


      Although they did indeed need your name and phone number (actually, maybe not even those, if they autodialed incrementally or randomly and just didn't bother to use your name, but that would have probably been too big a tipoff to the ripoff).

      For bank and card type,
      • You could spam the entire Chicago phone book with "Dear Valued LaSalle Bank Customer: This is an automated message which is urgent. We have discovered suspicious activity on your credit card. As you may know, identity theft has been increasing recently, and our computers have flagged a transaction on your account as possibly fradulent. We are calling you to verify whether the transaction to Ernie's House of Delectable Delights for $234.40 on 6/1 was authorized. If we do not receive communication from yo
  • Now we will have to have awards for the best voice acting in spam VOIP messages.
  • by Checkered Daemon (20214) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:19PM (#15526796)
    "Think of the Viagra ads that flood your e-mail inboxes now. They work because the cost of e-mailing thousands of people at once is so low, only 1% to 3% or so need to respond for it to be worth it, Ingevaldson says."

    That's gotta be a misquote or typo, or Ingevaldson is nuts. 1% to 3% is around the accepted minimum for dead tree spam. In an interview with a professional email spammer about a year ago (yeah, I'm too lazy to look it up) she said that she could make a good profit with a 1 in 10,000 response rate! Probably helps explain why I still get penile enlargement spam even though almost everyone on the planet who'd fall for it has undoubtedly already sent in the $50 and gotten the rock and the string.
  • This really depends on how open it is. I mean IM spam hasn't exactly taken off like email spam and people have claimed that IM spam would've gotten really big. And voice spamming requires an actual person on the other side. If you have an automated message, you'd get hung up immediately.

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