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January 18, 2007

SMBs Continue to Have Concerns about VoIP Security

TMCnet News

By Rahul Prabhakar
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The success of any business lies in the hands of its interest groups and how well informed they are; a slight disruption in the lines of communication can prove fatal and ruin profitable opportunities any moment.

When it comes to technology especially, you can never assume certain things for granted - security and quality, for example. In a recent survey conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), it was noted that concerns over security of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony solutions continue to haunt small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

This survey was conducted among 350 SMBs having 500 or fewer employees. The study revealed that only half of businesses trusted the current security level offered by IP telephony product and solution vendors. These figures are slightly better than last year's survey, where 48 percent of the SMB population voted their trust in IP telephony security. The results clearly showcase the popularity of traditional telephony systems, Ethernet data networks, and wireless local area networks.

According to the CompTIA survey, the security confidence level SMBs have in IP telephony still lags behind traditional telephony systems (82 percent), Ethernet data networks (72 percent), and wireless local area networks (60 percent).

John Venator, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA, said in a press release that “Even a brief interruption in voice service can have disastrous consequences for an organization, in lost business, downtime, customer dissatisfaction, or negative publicity. That’s why it is incumbent on IP telephony vendors and solution providers to place security at the forefront of their offerings, and not leave it as an afterthought.”

Venator believes that “People are much more sensitized to disruptions in voice communications than they are with data communications. If the delivery of an email is delayed by 30 seconds, neither the message sender nor the receiver is likely to notice. But a 30-second gap in the middle of a phone call is another story entirely.”

Much of IP telephony focuses on the challenge to deliver voice, fax, or video packets in a dependable flow to the user. In addition, it is imperative that IP telephony vendors and solution providers address the concerns of customer security and privacy, keeping the delivery modes in check.

IP telephony did not catch the general attention of hackers and criminals even after a few deployments were made. When the technology caught up with the business and consumer markets, new security threats emerged such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. This made it necessary for an organization’s IT department to be aware of new and changing threats to IP-based communications systems.

As IP telephony starts gaining acceptance as the universal transport for an organization’s voice and data communications, the emphasis is shifting to its security. The irony is, if one pays too much attention to security, the quality of IP telephony goes for a toss. So far the service providers are struggling to strike a balance between the security and quality. They have been unable to offer guarantee for quality of service.

This is where CompTIA comes into the picture. CompTIA has served as the voice of the world’s IT industry for 25 years, representing the business interests of more than 20,000 member companies worldwide.

With a view to facilitate proper analysis, implementation, and management of data, voice, and multimedia convergence applications, and provide mastery of critical practices related to security, CompTIA, the world’s largest provider of vendor-neutral certifications for IT workers, offers professional credentials to raise the skill level of workers dealing with such technologies.

Certifications, such as CompTIA Convergence (News - Alert)+ and CompTIA Security +, equip information technology (IT) professionals with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the area of telephone, broadcast media, cable, and Internet networks.

In the coming times, IT data networking and telecommunications networks will join to form a unified communications solution. This is when we will require a new set of skills to install and support these solutions. The validation shall benefit everyone - from vendor/ employers, employees, to end-user businesses.

For businesses to maximize these growing business opportunities, resulting due to convergence, we must start investing in developing the workforce.

Want the latest scoop on all things VoIP? Make sure you attend INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo East, January 23-26, 2007 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While you’re waiting for the show to start, check out Rich Tehrani’s analysis of the communications industry in 2007.


Rahul Prabhakar is a contributing writer for TMCnet.


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