VOIP and IPR: The sales potential of new security technologies

April 21, 2011

By Steve Gold (@stevewgold)

Late April again – and it’s time for a show or conference every week for the rest of the spring. This week there were two security shows on the agenda: Infosecurity Europe at London’s Earls Court and Counter Terror Expo at London’s Olympia. At Infosecurity I explored the potentials of VOIP security and converged security, and at Counter Terror Expo I learned about opportunities involving intellectual property rights.

At Infosecurity I bumped into Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of security distributor Wick Hill, who has been coming to Infosecurity for as long as I have (a long time) but, like me, never ceases to be excited by new security technologies as they come down the technology turnpike.

This year’s new flavours, said Ian, are VOIP security and converged security. The former is largely a by-product of the increasing use of VOIP telephony by organisations due to the economic imperative, and the number of services is proliferating.

With call rates significantly below those of conventional POTS (plain only telephony service) calls – especially on international destinations – the take-up of VOIP is exploding.

But surveilling VOIP calls is ridiculously easy because of the widespread availability of open source software capable of decrypting the header traffic on such calls, and the fact that many companies are unaware of the security risks of chatting about company secret via internet telephony circuits.

This is where convergence comes into the frame. Ian says that while clients are buying an IP security system in order to encrypt their data traffic, they can also add on a VOIP encryption/security system at the same time.

Over at Counter Terror Expo, the more understated aspect of security – which only a handful of people at Infosecurity are seemingly aware of (other than Ian Kilpatrick of course) – involves intellectual property rights (IPRs).

At Counter Terror Expo there were lot of military clients, including a couple of senior squaddies in full camouflage, who clearly wanted their communications hidden from the enemy, especially in the theatre of war.

But what about business communications? According to Ed Gibson – EdTheFed on LinkedIn – former security czar with Microsoft, now holding a similarly exalted position with PWC – the risks of information in cyberspace are astonishing.

Ed revealed to a spellbound audience how – during his tenure with the FBI – he had discussions with his colleagues on how to take down websites, something that Microsoft was keen on while he worked with the Redmond-based software giant.

The problem with taking down websites – or indeed any information posted to the web, most notably Facebook  – is that once it is posted, it stays on the web after about 20 minutes.

That’s the amount of time it takes for Facebook and other Web 2.0 portals to cache your data, meaning that, even if you delete it, it stays in cyberspace forever.

Why is this important? Okay, what happens when the graduates from university apply for a job with a US government department? Their Facebook profile and other Web 2.0 vapour trails are looked up by their potential bosses.

And it’s happening in private industry as well, says Ed.

The same principles also apply to IPRs, which companies are now discovering, to their detriment.

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