Privacy issues w/ VOIP CallVantage or others

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by phkhgh, Jan 28, 2008.

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  1. phkhgh

    phkhgh Registered Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    I'm considering switching to some VOIP service because my basic phone bill is outrageous (not because of long distance). AT&T owns the phone / DSL lines in my area.

    I now have AT&T local phone service & their 1.5 MB/s DSL. I get a $10 disc / mo on the DSL because I have one of their "plans" w/ more features. Going to a cheaper POTS plans *might* put the DSL at $30/ mo (I think) vs. $20 now.

    As an ISP can record every website you visit (unless you take action to prevent that), can a VOIP PROVIDER RECORD YOUR CONVERSATIONS, w/o your knowledge and w/o a court order?

    I'm concerned about privacy AND security w/ VOIP & the gov't, partly because my understanding is VOIP does NOT has the same protection under current laws as POTS land lines (which itself is pretty shaky nowdays), and in general VOIP is not as secure as a land line. Am I correct?

    But more concerned that if I'm talking to my bank, for ONE instance, someone (hacker or whom ever) could intercept the conversation & acct #s or passwords.

    Am I wrong in my understanding, and is there a way to make VOIP more secure w/o it becoming my full time occupation keeping up w/ software, technology, etc?

    I've also heard some VOIP providers have really poor voice quality & dropped calls. I'm not even sure AT&T will provide DSL w/o having some form of voice land line service.

    Last edited: Jan 30, 2008
  2. kareldjag

    kareldjag Registered Member

    Nov 13, 2004

    Like any other protocol, VOIP has its pros and cons.

    An overview of VOIP threat can be found in this paper that does not contain hacking tools links:

    Of course evesdropping is an important threat, and your ISP is not the only one that can listen to your conversation, but any ill-intentioned and awared person:
    many tools are vailable for free (sniffers, scanners etc).

    A solution to mitigate the risk is encryption, even if this is not the panacea.

    Using Skype when we deal with security is not serious, not only becaused this soft is a target (here).

    There is more secure alternative solutions:

    -ZFone (here)

    -ClosedTalk (here)

    There also some providers that may have secure solutions in relation to your country (here).

    Of course, for paranoiac users of phone (not only VOIP based ones) there's specialized products, but they're expensive.
    Erphone is well known in France, and there's also CryptPhone and many more...

  3. phkhgh

    phkhgh Registered Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    Thanks for the reply. AT&T Call Vantage reps tell me (tho haven't seen it in writing) they DO use encryption on their VOIP, at least now.

    I'm not worried about a gov't agency legally tapping my calls (well, I am, but I don't have anything to hide in that respect).

    What I am worried about is whether laws differ for landline conversations vs VOIP, because VOIP is using the wide open, non regulated internet. Whether because of that, a provider has the right (or the law doesn't SPECIFICALLY prevent them) from recording your conversations, much like an ISP can record which web sites you visit.

    Now, if AT&T encrypts the conversations, that presumably would prevent a "hacker" from intercepting your calls. But since no one has been able to tell me what laws, if any, regulate the VOIP provider, I don't know if they could, if they desired, record & UNencrypt your conversations. That is, w/o any gov't involvement.
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