The Internet Protocol is one of the largest enablers of the last decade. It allows communications to take place wherever there is broadband connectivity. Voice over IP, video over IP, fax over IP… Just about everything runs over IP it seems. But this is old news – right? We have all tried Skype and heard countless Vonage WooHoo ads by now.
I would imagine most people probably won’t get excited about this field until they are able to order — and receive — pizza over IP. But don’t think there is nothing exciting happening in the internet protocol world these days. In fact, the latest excitement in the space could just be IP security.
You see, now that the world is enjoying an IP party by migrating phones calls and security cameras to internet protocol, we have an uninvited guest. Who you ask? Hackers and other “evil doers” who want to tap into our phone calls in order to harvest things like PIN numbers and other confidential nuggets which can be ferreted out of phone calls.
One of the premium names in the VoIP security market is Acme Packet. The company was one of the few to grow rapidly during the telecom bubble blow up. How did they accomplish this you ask?
Acme did a few very smart things. They focused on developing session border control (SBC) products that worked well and added lots of features while simultaneously inking deals with tier-one equipment providers to resell their products.
Even though the company was not first in the market they were able to ride the coattails of the large equipment carriers to the point where they rapidly made a great name themselves. In the process, they wiped a number of their former competitors away.
Now a public company, APKT is looking for ways to grow beyond the service provider market they continue to excel in.
One area which is in need of their services but may not even know it yet is the contact center space – especially hosted centers.
I was wondering how the company could help in this area and thankfully I had a chance to discuss this very question with Kevin Mitchell who is the Director, Solutions Marketing for the company.
Perhaps most importantly the company ensures that networks and services are still up… They make sure malicious or even non-malicious overload events do not harm service for legitimate callers. In addition, Acme Packet focuses on providing proper encryption for appropriate calls.
The company’s solutions are able to secure users over the open internet. Acme’s SBC takes care of encryption between home agents and the data canter. The calls are tunneled through IPSEC and Mitchell tells me neither the signaling nor media can be intercepted.
In order to ensure security is enforced the company employs topology hiding and a dynamic trust model with behavioral learning on endpoint network resource requests. This is in addition to simpler methods like access control lists.
As you might imagine, today’s SBCs can help not only in the call center and service provider network but the large enterprise as well.
In the end, IP communications security is crucial as it becomes more pervasive. Hackers and people looking for security holes can find gold in unencrypted VoIP calls. Adding SBCs into the mix makes infinite sense.
Another benefit of using an SBC in the call center space is the fact that monitoring and recording can be done more easily as CALEA requires this functionality be built into SBCs for law enforcement purposes. This is nice side benefit of a government initiative being used for the good of another industry.
Mitchell tells me the company has been playing in the large enterprise and call center space for about a year and a half. As the volume of IP communications traffic grows, it is essential that companies begin a dialogue with SBC providers such as Acme Packet so as to ensure their communications are secure.
As VoIP and SIP become more popular, it is only a matter of time before hackers throw more resources at the telephony space. Obviously it is always best to be ahead of such a curve. After all, now is the time to get your house in order as one day soon you will be dealing with how to get that pepperoni pie over your network pipes.