You might be asking, ‘what is “Doxware?” DarkReading defines it as: “With doxware, hackers hold computers hostage until the victim pays the ransom, similar to ransomware. But doxware takes the attack further by compromising the privacy of conversations, photos, and sensitive files, and threatening to release them publicly unless the ransom is paid. Because of the threatened release, it's harder to avoid paying the ransom, making the attack more profitable for hackers.”
This cyber security threat is still relatively rare in the wild. While this new form of malicious attacks is in its infancy, it's important that service providers educate themselves and customers now. We predict that the trend is moving away from 2016, the year of ransomware, towards 2017 and that we will begin to see larger impacts of doxing. That means the possibility of eavesdropping and capturing conversations and then threatening to broadcast the stolen information for extortion purposes.
Doxware VoIP and Unified Communications Services (UC)
It’s undeniable that VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) adoption is on the rise, particularly for SMBs. Yet we are left wondering if service providers are keeping pace with security practices as virtualized environments are deployed. With security gaps, hackers can easily eavesdrop on conversations from CEOs, accountants, or any employee. These communications can be filled with personal information or insider business knowledge that would be massively damaging if shared by malicious actors.
Taking Inventory of Weak Spots
Communications filtered through a cloud can be a potential security gap. Customers might even identify this fear as a reason to stay with an on premise solution. However, with the right efforts, business of all sizes can be confident that they are protected. The first step towards that direction is taking inventory of the possible weak spots in your VoIP or UC arrangement.
- Default Passwords: If administrators don’t change default passwords that are hard-coded into IP phones, that places an automatic target on the business. Criminals will first look for anyone that does not take the most basic security measures. Passwords should be lengthy, a mix of characters, and kept in a password manager if shared between employees.
- Unencrypted Voice Packets: Any communications traffic that doesn’t first flow through a session border controller (SBC) puts companies at risk. Without SBCs, hackers can easily gain control of IP telephony services and listen in or record whenever they please.
- Out of Date Patching and Updating: It’s always best practice to keep software up-to-date, fix bugs, and implement patches. Be aware that as our technology evolves, so do the potential exploits. It’s not enough to set up security and forget it.
Security Starts Here
In order to ensure complete security for any network, you may need a solution that includes built in security such as encryption for SIP User Agent passwords, stateful packet inspection firewalls, VoIP aware firewalls, and Denial of Service protection. Without a full suite of security tools, companies are putting themselves at unnecessary risk and giving an opening to hackers to make 2017 the year of doxware.
Protection doesn’t have to slow down or degrade your communications. The good news is that every network can be protected from all of the threats mentioned above. Learn more in our white paper, Network Edge Orchestration—Supporting Advanced VoIP Deployments.