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August 14, 2006

Pretty Good Security for SIP Communications



By Erik Linask
Group Managing Editor


BorderWare Technologies and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) founder Phil Zimmermann announced this week that the company is poised to become the first commercial licensee of Zfone, a secure VoIP media encryption software solution also created by Zimmermann.  
 
By integrating integrates Zfone with BorderWare’s SIPassure VoIP Security Gateway, this agreement brings a new level of security and ease of use to VoIP systems.
 
VoIP and other real-time communication applications (e.g., video conferencing and instant messaging) continue to attract new users on a daily basis. In addition to the cost savings, carriers and customers alike are seeing the added benefits of VoIP services that allow voice messaging and video conferencing to be conducted securely, like email, over traditional phone networks and the Internet, with a slew of productivity and convenience features never before experienced during phone conversations.
 
Between them, BorderWare and Phil Zimmermann have the knowledge and experience regarding IP and related security to provide secure VoIP solutions to the marketplace. 
 
BorderWare has built its reputation on protecting network email, IM, Web, and VoIP for a dozen years. Zimmerman has more than two decades of experience specializing in cryptography and data security; his e-mail encryption software, Pretty Good Privacy, was originally developed fifteen years ago.
 
Zfone is secure VoIP. It secures the communications system better than its predecessors because it does not rely on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), key certification, trust models, certificate authorities, or key management. Rather, it uses a new protocol called ZRTP, which does not rely on SIP signaling — it does not rely on servers at all, in fact. 
 
ZRTP performs its key agreements and key management in a pure peer-to-peer manner over the RTP packet stream. It interoperates with any standard SIP phone, but only encrypts the call when communicating with a second ZRTP enabled device.  The ZRTP protocol has been submitted to the IETF as a proposed public standard to enable interoperability of SIP endpoints from different vendors.
 
“As VoIP grows into a replacement for the PSTN, we will absolutely need to protect it, or organized crime will be attacking it as intensively as they attack the rest of the Internet today,” commented Zimmerman. “VoIP is far more vulnerable to interception than the PSTN.  Corporate VoIP calls can be captured and organized on disk for convenient point- and-click wiretapping by criminals half a world away.”
 
According to BorderWare, SIPassure is the industry’s first VoIP security gateway that takes VoIP application security to a new level by combining the best features of an enterprise firewall, application layer gateway, and a Session Border Controller.
 
SIPassure is designed to secure all SIP-based applications, including VoIP services, video conferencing, and other messaging applications.  SIPassure ensures that organizations using SIP-based communications remain harbored from impairment and service disruption from internal and external attacks, interference spam, and other threats.
 
The integration of Zfone media encryption with SIPassure ensures that BorderWare’s customers have the security to ward off Spam threats, DoS attacks, eavesdropping, spying, and wiretapping,--all without limiting the performance and convenience customers have come to expect from their e-mail. 
 
Implementing Zfone into an office phone system can be as easy as a few keystrokes to complete installation—it does not entail replacing all the handsets.
 
“We’re pleased to be the first security company to license Zfone, as it is poised to become the global standard for VoIP media encryption,” said Tim Leisman, CEO of BorderWare.
 
Leisman added: “Phil’s reputation and proven track record in email and data encryption offer a very logical foundation for VoIP media encryption, and our vast experience in security makes an unbeatable and reputable combination to deliver VoIP security through the SIPassure offering.”
 
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY. Most recently, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.

 

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