We all are aware of cyber-security risks to our information and Internet-related systems—hacking, intrusion, interruption of service, identity theft and espionage hiding in every computer and network. The federal government is zeroing in on cyber security, cyber crime and cyber warfare as a major part of its homeland security priorities. Businesses and governments are spending vast amounts of money to protect against an unknown threat. But, the situation is getting worse and now is time to ask: Should your agency be worried about its phone service?
Unfortunately, the answer is "yes." With the rise of Internet telephone services known as voice over Internet protocol (referred to commonly as VoIP) we need to examine these risks in relation to phone service, because they raise the specter of cyber-insurance issues for users of VoIP, as well as for VoIP providers and vendors. Small-business owners have grown comfortable with the reliability and security of the telephone system. We don’t even think about the possibility of someone hacking into our phone system, monitoring our calls or stealing our identity (or the identity of a client) through the telephone. Other than the absurd possibility of a determined spy climbing a pole or sneaking into our agency to plant a bug in a phone, we can’t even imagine how this might happen. But, the cozy life of telephone security is over.