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tplink Posted:
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HildBeft Posted:
You can recollect
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The devices are
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Hi these are most
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scerruti
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:15 pm    Post subject: Encrypting VoIP Calls Reply with quote Back to top

You may have seen the news recently about zphone. zphone is a software package from Philip Zimmermann, the creator of PGP, that allows Voip calls to be encrypted. Currently the software is available on Linux and Macs and should work with any SIP softphone client. Mr Zimmermann hopes that softphone authors will incorporate this software directly into their clients.

Because Mr. Zimmerman designed the protocol so that it could exist passively between two SIP endpoints it should also be possible to make it work with Vonage to Vonage calls from standard adapters. It might be possible to route the adapter traffic through a PC on each end of the call, that PC could run the zphone software. A better solution would be to put the zphone software in a box like the D-Link DI-102 or one of the other Voip traffic shapers.

While technically it should be possible to add the zphone software directly into the voice adapter I see two drawbacks to this method.

First, there is an acknowledged limitation to the zphone protocols that make it somewhat susceptible to a man in the middle attack. Some mechanism to provide for an initial key exchange would have to be added to the adapter, either via a web interface or via a display on the adapter itself.

Second, Vonage is regulated to provide access to voice calls under court order. Supplying encryption equipment may make it impossible to abide by those regulations.

Some additional notes:

SIP encryption has been available previously, but this method is simpler because it does not require any complex setup or public key infrastructure. It also does not require any changes at the service provider level.

D-Link has announced a box (DI-103) to support pop up blocking and virus detection based on the DI-102. It is not a stretch to think that the DI-102 could be enhanced to provide zphone capability.

At the point where Vonage begins peering to other Voip providers this mechanism should work on those calls as well.

I do not believe that the mechanism used will survive a SIP<->POTS<->SIP transition.

Ability to simply and freely encrypt calls is one more feature that will drive people towards Voip. Encryption is not just for criminals and terrorists. It is useful for lawyers and doctors with legal requirements to protect information. It is useful for journalists attempting to protect confidential sources. It is useful for business persons protecting proprietary information from corporate espionage. It is useful for people whose conversations are being monitored by an oppressive government.

This mechanism is not intended to protect the identity of the callers, merely the content of their calls. However the ability to make calls from anonymous softphone accounts in public access places would provide anonymity for at least one end of the call.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

excellent reading.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Encrypting VoIP Calls Reply with quote Back to top

scerruti wrote:
SIP encryption has been available previously, but this method is simpler because it does not require any complex setup or public key infrastructure. It also does not require any changes at the service provider level.


I could be wrong, but everything I've read about this product is that it encrypts RTP audio, but not SIP. In fact, using standard SIP is perfectly fine. If you did employ a secure SIP protocol (outside of Zfone) it will use certain parameters within the protocol as one of the pieces in the derivation of the DH keys, but it doesn't need it.

Quote:

D-Link has announced a box (DI-103) to support pop up blocking and virus detection based on the DI-102. It is not a stretch to think that the DI-102 could be enhanced to provide zphone capability.


It certainly seems logical to me. However, the zfone protocol mandates the use of 128-bit AES at a minimum as its encryption algorithm. Since we're talking about voice traffic, that encryption is going to have to be done in hardware, or call quality will be shot. Performing the encryption in hardware will certainly increase the cost of the device beyond what consumers are generally used to seeing for a D-Link, Linksys, etc. but will certainly be worth it for those who need it.

Quote:

At the point where Vonage begins peering to other Voip providers this mechanism should work on those calls as well.


Indeed.

Quote:

I do not believe that the mechanism used will survive a SIP<->POTS<->SIP transition.


Again, Zfone does not encrypt the SIP traffic. SIP also doesn't pass through POTS. SIP is terminated on a gateway then the signalling is passed out onto a local PBX or to the PSTN. There could be another SIP gateway at the destination, but your SIP gateway has no knowledge of it.

Although, I would have to believe your encrypted RTP audio stream would survive the trip. I reason I think this is because the data in the RTP stream (your conversation) contains no information that a PBX needs to know, it just passes it on. In other words, a gateway converts your RTP stream into a format a PBX can understand and passes it on, but it doesn't matter to the PBX what that information is, unlike signalling information. I could be misunderstanding that though...PBX guys?

Good info on Zfone though. I didn't even know a software product like it existed.

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