Internet-like Attacks Are Already Targeting the Telephony Channel

I just finished a series of blog posts asserting that the telephony landscape has changed fundamentally. Unfortunately, evidence abounds.

In the “Demise of POTS: An Internet Engineer’s Perspective” article, which appeared this week in the Internet Engineering Task Force Journal, Henning Schulzrinne, Columbia University Professor and current Chief Technology Officer of the U.S Federal Communications Commission, talks about the challenges the Internet community must address as telephony becomes IP-based like the Internet. In particular, he talks about the need for security and reliability for VoIP technology because of the high level of trust people expect from telephony.

Telephony is going the Internet way but are we seeing many attacks that target this channel? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. A recent Los Angeles Times story talks about telephony attacks that sound very familiar to people in the Internet security area. It talks about criminals demanding extortion money after denial-of-service attacks that targeted the telephone service of a hospital emergency room. Tactics include Caller ID spoofing. Sounds familiar? Stories like this provide evidence that the benefits of telephony and Internet convergence will come with serious security challenges.