Secure Your Wireless VoIP System

Updated: February 14, 2007

Many enterprises are discovering the cost and productivity benefits wireless VoIP provides. As a result, a growing number of enterprises are installing wireless hotspots inside office buildings, warehouses, shipping yards, corporate campuses and various other facilities, allowing employees with wireless IP handsets and other compatible devices to talk to each other, as well as the outside world, without relying on desktop phones.

Yet wireless VoIP technology is not without risk. Unsecured voice packets can be intercepted and WiFi networks provide a tempting entry point for hackers and other unauthorized users. Wireless VoIP security is always the network operator's responsibility, since mobile device users have no control over where their signals go.

As with VoIP security in general, gaining control over wireless VoIP systems is challenging work. But careful planning and analysis will help ensure that your enterprise's VoIP traffic flows steadily and securely. Here are five ways to make that happen:

1. Look for Equipment That Incorporates Wireless Security Standards The first wireless network security standard--Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)--was a rather weak and vulnerable technology. But newer specifications, such as WiFi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2 and IEEE 802.11i are powerful and security benchmarks. Make sure your network devices take full advantage of a least one of these technologies.

2. Take Advantage of Encryption and Authentication WPA, WPA2 and IEEE 802.11i all offer built-in advanced encryption/authentication technologies that can help secure a wireless VoIP system. WPA2 and 802.11i both support the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which provides U.S. government-level protection.

3. Use Multilevel Protection Embed security within security. An IP handset, for example, may send encrypted audio while IEEE 802.11ii authenticates and encrypts the wireless connection.

4. Use a VoIP Firewall A well-configured firewall will block hackers trying to enter an enterprise VoIP system through a wireless device.
5. Provide Adequate Training Wireless VoIP users should be alerted to security threats and encouraged to report any unusual or suspicious activities they detect.

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