Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is VoIP communication being Abused?

We have heard a lot of stories about how VoIP communication medium has been used by terrorist and criminals for illegal activities. The recent Mumbai attack on Indian soil makes it more compelling for VoIP to support Lawful intercept requirements. So what makes this kind of communication more attractive to illegal activities. Hard to wiretap the conversation. The regular PSTN and wireless communication standards have very good wiretapping capabilities and most of the vendors support Lawful Intercept features, using which, voice or text conversation can be wiretapped by Law enforcement agencies. Though the FCC has been pushing for Lawful Intercept requirement for broadband and VoIP, very few vendors are really compliant with the requirement

Using proprietary protocols and encryption makes it harder for the Law enforcement agencies to wiretap the conversation. Skype is a classic example of a VoIP client that uses proprietary protocol and encryption. In addition, the whole architecture of skype makes it harder for law enforcement agency to wiretap the conversation. ( More on the architecture and issues with skype to support Lawful Intercept ) . With more than 350 million users, and no initiative to support lawful intercept has law enforcement agencies on their toes.

Apparently, European authorities are tightening screw to fix the loophole in the current lawful intercept laws, and start listening to VoIP calls. A group made up of 27 national representatives called Eurojust has plans in the coming weeks to get together to discuss the issue and come up with a solution to this big security problem. The issue was raised earlier by Italian authorities who discovered that most of the criminals were using both VoIP and skype to frustrate investigators, and skype not cooperating with them. Police officers in Milan say organized crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype and other systems of VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony in order to frustrate investigators. Without skype cooperating with the law enforcement agents, wiretapping skype calls would be next to impossible.

Is skype listening?

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7 comments:

mvid said...

And thank god skype isn't complying.

Anonymous said...

This is a big privacy issue and i wouldnt want anyone listening to my conversation. If skype supports wiretapping, i would bid good bye to them.

omfut(Ravi) said...

Folks,
Don't freak out. Lawful intercept requirements have been supported by wireless and wireline switches for years now with the exception of few VoIP vendors and clients. So the ability to wiretap your conversation is already available to law enforcement agencies. Having said that, to wiretap any user, law enforcement agency should get a prior approval from the court. So just because a product supports wiretapping doesn’t mean that anyone can listen to your conversation. So unless your involved in any illegal activity, rest assured, your privacy is intact.

Eddy said...

I think this issue will resolve but it takes time because there are several VoIP providers like Jajah, Fring, Vopium, Rebtel and others...but as above said that wiretapping will cause big privacy issue and I would'nt want anyone listening to my conversation. If skype, Vopium or any other supports wiretapping, I would bid good bye to them. This will destroy VoIP industry.

Jack Chrysler said...
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Jack Chrysler said...
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Jack Chrysler said...
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