Data Security in a Converged Network

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1 Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper Author: Contributors: Joel A. Pogar National Practice Manager Secure Network Services Jeff Corcoran Solutions Architect, HiPath Professional Services Steve Murphy Project Manager, HiPath Professional Services Alan Medsker Engineer, HiPath Solutions Team Steve Brodson Engineer, HiPath Network Integration Services W. Bryan Dawson Security Engineer, Secure Network Services

2 Abstract Technology allowing Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has been available for a number of years, however, it has not been accepted as a mainstream technology in the enterprise until recently. There has been a strong and growing value proposition for the replacement of traditional PBX systems with VoIP. The benefits of ROI, communication flexibility and the concept of one network have been powerful drivers for the enterprise to adopt VoIP. One of the most significant questions around deployment of VoIP systems has been security. Since 9/11, security is no longer an optional line item. There has been a lot of discussion around VoIP security and there seems to be more questions than available answers. The intent of this paper is to educate you, the reader, on VoIP security issues and dispel fact from myth. The information presented in this document is technical in nature but straightforward and easy to understand. The vulnerabilities in VoIP are clearly identified and illustrated for non-technical individuals. Presenting this information in a public forum, such as this paper, does not jeopardize the security of existing VoIP systems. Most of the information presented here is already known by skilled attackers. This open discussion of vulnerabilities is intended to prompt vendors and the VoIP user community to be more diligent about their security. In the end, sharing this information will allow for a more secure and trusted environment. Introduction provides a wide variety of products and services to enable real-time communications. Specifically, our HiPath Voice Over IP (VoIP) portfolio was designed to enable real-time time communications in an enterprise environment. As with any rapidly evolving technology like VoIP, there will always be risk. Siemens Enterprise Networks is experienced and adept at providing the services and peace of mind to ensure your real-time communications are secure. This paper has evolved from years of experience in the communications and security industry. We have found that clients continue to ask the same questions when it comes to the deployment of VoIP and the associated security issues. Siemens believes it is important to understand the benefits AND risks of an investment in any technology. While many forums have discussed the benefits of VoIP, few have openly discussed security risks as they are presented here. This paper has been organized in a dialog style and attempts to directly answer key questions about VoIP security. It is also vendor agnostic. We do not discuss specific products or vendors because this paper was not meant to be an advertising vehicle or to publicly criticize competitive solutions. In writing this paper, our goal was to provide a neutral view, which would lend more credibility and open discussion of the topics presented. It is our hope and intention that this document provides the information you re looking for and it is a useful resource in your search for information on VoIP security Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 1

3 What s the difference between a threat, vulnerability and a risk? While this question is not specific to convergence, it is important to understand the differences between them. A threat is an external security issue represented by a natural or man-made attack. For example, a lightning bolt represents a natural attack as the lightning can threaten the safety and security of a data network. Similarly, an external intruder is a man-made threat, which attempts to compromise a network. A vulnerability is defined as a specific degree of weakness of an individual computer or network exposed to the influence of a threat. For example, if you have not applied the latest security patch to the operating system of your Web server then you have a vulnerability because that computer system is exposed to a threat, a potential intruder. A risk is the degree of probability that a disaster will occur in light of the existing conditions and the degree of vulnerability or weakness present in the system. The key difference between a threat and risk is that threat is related to the potential occurrence of a security issue, while risk is the probability of an incident occurring based on the degree of exposure to a threat. Risk, for security purposes, is usually calculated in dollars and cents. It s important to realize that you may have a vulnerability but without a threat, you have no risk. Evaluating each one of these factors is critical to know what security exposures you have, how critical they are and what impact they will have in your environment. Does VoIP introduce any new security vulnerabilities to an enterprise network? VoIP, by itself, represents a new vector for potential security issues but DOES NOT introduce any new vulnerabilities that have not been seen before. Some experts have argued that packetizing voice and placing it on a data network makes voice communication more accessible and easier to intercept we would have to agree with this point. In a traditional, analog environment, physical access to a switch or wring closet was usually necessary to intercept communications between two parties. By placing voice traffic on a data network, one could potentially intercept a voice communication by capturing the associated packets as they traverse a large network. Attackers have already developed easy to use tools for this purpose and one of the more popular tools is Vomit (Voice Over Misconfigured Internet Telephones, There are other concerns about VoIP from a risk management perspective, such as having all your eggs in one basket. For example, should your data network experience a critical failure you are now without voice AND data communications. The impact to your business could be greater for a prolonged outage of both systems rather than having separate systems. Therefore, you need to ensure that your organization has adequate business continuity and disaster recovery plans Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 2

4 What security threats should I be most concerned with for VoIP? As we have stated previously, there are no new vulnerabilities introduced by adding VoIP to your environment. Many of the already well-known security vulnerabilities can adversely impact voice communications and need to be guarded against. The most significant concerns in a VoIP environment are: Denial of Service (DoS) attacks: Endpoints, such as IP telephones, and VoIP gateways (SIP proxies), can be bombarded with SYN or ICMP packets in an attempt to disrupt communications Call Interception: Unauthorized monitoring of voice packets or Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) Signal Protocol Tampering: In the same category as call interception, a malicious user could monitor and capture the packets that setup the call. By doing this, it is possible for them to manipulate fields in the data stream and make VoIP calls without using a VoIP phone. Or, they could make an expensive call (i.e. International) and make the IP-PBX believe it originated from another user Presence Theft: Impersonation of a legitimate user sending or receiving data Toll Fraud: The ability of a malicious user or intruder to place fraudulent calls Call Handling OS: The call handling software of many IP-PBX systems relies on operating systems, or operating system components, that may not be secure. For example, the use of Microsoft IIS as a Web-based configuration tool for the IP-PBX may introduce significant vulnerabilities in your VoIP environment While it is impossible to completely eliminate all of these threats, they can be sufficiently mitigated in a few simple steps. There are many published and well written documents for minimizing your exposure to a Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Following these guidelines will reduce the amount of DoS traffic your network is exposed to and your overall vulnerability to a DoS attack. Signal Tampering, as mentioned above, could be considered a DoS attack depending on how it is executed. Encrypting VoIP traffic, where possible, it will prevent the unauthorized interception of VoIP calls. While many vendors cannot encrypt traffic down to the handset today, this technology is in the very near future. However, there are several options for encrypting VoIP traffic while it is traversing the core of your network enroute to its destination. Presence theft offers a unique challenge in today s VoIP environment. The best countermeasure for presence theft is strong authentication (i.e. two factor authentication), although few, if any, vendors can support this today. Strong authentication at the IP endpoint is another emerging technology, which will be available soon. Until then we will have to rely on some security features built into the SIP and H.323 protocols such as address authentication, CSeq and Call-ID headers. To manage the threat of toll fraud, it is important that IP-PBX administrators employ the same call restrictions on an IP-PBX as they would a traditional TDM-PBX. International calling, blocking 900 numbers, etc. should all be employed on an IP-PBX. These systems are just as vulnerable, if not more, to the traditional phreaking attacks seen on TDM systems. Finally, and perhaps the most critical issue, is the operating system security of the call handling software. Many call handling systems run as applications or services on Microsoft or Linux platforms. These applications are installed and deployed without regard for the security of the underlying operating system. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that the OS of your call handling software is not using any unnecessary services (i.e. FTP) and has any security patches applied. The only caveat here is to make sure that disabling these services will not adversely impact your VoIP system. For example, as an administrator you may feel an HTTP server is unnecessary and disable it. However, that HHTP server could be a required component for remote configuration or administration. Check with your VoIP vendor before making any operating system changes or applying any OS patches Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 3

5 Do the endpoints, or IP phones, have any specific vulnerabilities to be aware of? The IP phones are intelligent devices with a processor, memory an operating system and communication capability. The good news is that they have a relatively limited input scheme from the twelveposition touchpad for dialing and a few programmable buttons. The most significant vulnerability, and this varies by vendor, is the ability to reset the IP phone to factory defaults via a reset button or function. When the device is reset, some vendors provide a greater level of access to the VoIP system to configure the phone for the first time. A malicious user could compromise or reset administrator level passwords during the configuration process. The best solution is to limit the deployment of IP phones in public environments such as lobbies or public phone banks. Ensure that it is not possible to reset the phones used in these locations. Other than this small possibility, the IP phones of today do not represent a significant security threat. As the phones get more intelligent this may change. Is it easy to intercept or monitor a VoIP conversation? It s not that difficult considering most of the tools used are available for free download on the Internet. Consider the following hypothetical scenario. An attacker that had physical access to the LAN, perhaps an employee could plug into the network and identify a target phone they wanted to monitor. With any tool like tcpdump, it would be very easy to identify the IP and MAC address of the phone to be attacked. By using an arp spoofing tool, the attacker could impersonate the local gateway and the IP phone on the network. This allows IP traffic to and from the target IP phone to be monitored by the attacking workstation. FragRouter or IP forwarding would have to be enabled on the attacking machine so the data packets would reach their ultimate destination. Next, using tcpdump again, the attacker would capture VoIP packets and save them to a file. Once the attacker has captured the amount of data desired, it can be played back using Vomit and the appropriate codec. This example represents a simplified scenario but it would work. The risk of experiencing this ARP Spoof of IP Phone Attacker Linux Workstation with DSniff ARP Spoof FragRouter Vomit L2 Switch ARP Spoof of default gateway Router Victim IP Telephone attack is somewhat limited because it would require physical access to the local network or remote access to a compromised L2 Switch Router Call handling software Router L2 Switch IP Telephone #1 host on the local network. In addition, ARP spoofing does not work across the Internet or a wide-area-network (WAN). What tools are available to monitor or manage the security of a VoIP environment? VoIP is just now becoming a mainstream technology. Many of the available VoIP tools are designed for performance management and enhancement, not security. Because we have discussed that VoIP is not a unique vulnerability in a data environment, traditional data security tools would be sufficient to monitor and manage your VoIP network. Some components, like IDS, may have specific tuning needs but they should still be effective Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 4

6 Can my firewall/nat infrastructure handle VoIP traffic? First of all, you will need to examine the topology of your network. Most VoIP traffic today does not traverse a public network, VPNs excluded, such as the Internet. The availability and use of the Internet as a carrier for VoIP is not reality today. This can and most certainly will change in the future as the technologies evolve and mature. If your environment has layers of internal firewalls between networks and VoIP will traverse these devices, it is doubtful your firewall can efficiently VoIP traffic. Most conventional firewalls, today, cannot natively support SIP or H.323, the two primary VoIP protocols. Native support does not mean opening the ports that SIP or H.323 would use. Native support does mean the firewall has a predefined service type for VoIP and has the capability to open and inspect these packets. While there are some commercial firewalls capable of doing this, this feature is not yet pervasive in the firewall industry. A second issue with conventional firewalls is their inability to efficiently handle large amounts of small packets. Large amounts of small data packets are what most VoIP traffic consists of. On average, VoIP conversations generate packets per second and packets that are bytes in size. If this were an FTP download, the network could handle the same volume of data content in a fewer number of larger packets yielding much less information for the firewall to inspect. A good analogy for this concept is a shipyard. If you had 100 crates to inspect and ship would you rather put them on a single boat that can handle all 100 crates or would you want to put them on ten boats that can only handle 10 crates each? It would obviously take more work and effort to ship your crates on ten different boats. The small packet size allows low latency and better performance for the VoIP system but not for the firewall, which is used to handling larger ships. Because firewalls cannot efficiently handle large amounts of small packets, the throughput capability of the firewall begins to degrade along with the quality of service. Therefore the voice conversation may begin to falter or other data traffic will be delayed or dropped based on a variety of configuration options in your network. Finally, most firewalls utilize some type of Network Address Translation to conserve IP address space. However, many VoIP systems will not work properly with complex NAT environments. Depending on the firewall vendor and product, some NAT implementations embed IP address information in the payload portion of the packet. When the VoIP system receives the IP address data instead of voice data, it does not know how to handle it. Thus, another opportunity for a dropped call, poor voice quality or complete inability to make a call on a VoIP system due to firewall or NAT issues. If firewalls cannot efficiently handle voice traffic today, what technology should I have at my network perimeter? For security and performance issues, it is best to offload your real-time or VoIP protocols from your data network. If your VoIP data is going to traverse a public network, it is our recommendation to use a reverse proxy or multimedia gateway designed to handle real-time communications. There are several vendors now making these gateways to act as firewalls. They offer the advantage of better security for real-time communications and the performance to handle large amounts of small packets. Data traffic Voice traffic L2 Switch Router Firewall Multimedia gateway Internet Do I need an Intrusion Detection System on my VoIP network? It certainly would not hurt to have an IDS system on a VoIP network. However, in our experience, we have seen IDS systems generate a substantial amount of false positives on a voice network. Many, but not all, IDS systems use pattern matching to detect anomalies. To an IDS system, voice traffic is just a series of 1s and 0s. It is inevitable that the conversion of voice to a data value for network transport will match some IDS signature and generate an alert. If you choose to use IDS on your voice network, be aware that a larger number of false positives can be generated and considerable grooming may be required to have the IDS system operate effectively. If your IDS system has the ability to disconnect potential intruders this could disrupt voice calls if they have been incorrectly assessed as an attack by the IDS system Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 5

7 Of the two most used VoIP protocols, SIP and H.323, which is more secure? From a security perspective, both protocols are fairly equal. It s very difficult to say one is more secure than the other. They both offer authentication and encryption features within the protocol but few vendors are leveraging the complete capabilities of either protocol. They also share a common vulnerability in their signaling or call setup. As we have discussed previously in this paper, the call signaling is crucial to VoIP communications and disrupting or attacking the signaling process could be a type of DoS or a way to fraudulently use the IP-PBX. Although they both have pros and cons, we would feel very comfortable recommending either of these two protocols based solely on their security capabilities. has a very good, side-by-side, comparison of the two protocols. Based on the technology available today, what would you recommend to secure a VoIP environment? Keep in mind there is no such thing as a secure environment. As security professionals, it s our job to minimize risk. To minimize the security risks in a VoIP environment, we would recommend the following: Virtual LANs Make use of VLANs to segregate VoIP from data traffic. The VLAN will give you some quality of service benefits as well as add another layer of complexity for an attacker trying to sniff or capture packets off the network. Keeping voice and data on separate VLANs is a good idea for increasing security and performance. Unauthorized devices or spoofing can be mitigated if the switch/router can deny forwarding packets for devices with MAC addresses/ip addresses not matching lists of allowed devices. However this measure is invalidated with soft phones running on PCs since these are allowed devices that reside on the data network. Additionally, the best practice for securing a voice VLAN is to control the traffic between the voice and data VLAN using filtering and/or firewalls. This can prevent DoS attacks and spoofing as well as providing general filtering that limits malicious footprinting. Finally, it s a good idea to use RFC 1918 addresses for IP phones to make external scanning for voice devices very difficult and to ensure that no packets can ever be routed out of the corporate network. Encryption Where possible, implement encryption through VPNs or any method available to you. Encryption does the potential to delay voice packets and adversely affect the performance of VoIP on your network, especially if there are multiple encryption points. However, as long your network is operating efficiently, the overhead of the encryption should have little impact on the performance of the VoIP system. You can minimize the risk to voice quality even more by employing hardware crypto systems rather than those performed in software. Direct firewall support If VoIP traffic will be traversing a firewall, make sure your firewall is capable of direct support for SIP or H.323. If you have to open a port to allow these protocols through, then your firewall does not adequately support VoIP. Use of reverse proxies Segment your VoIP traffic from your data traffic and consider using a multimedia gateway or reverse proxy. These devices offer greater security and are designed to handle VoIP traffic more efficiently than a traditional firewall. Secure OS of call handling software Use a commercial scanning tool to probe the call servers in your VoIP system. If any critical or high-level vulnerabilities arise, contact your vendor to have them corrected as soon as possible. Care should be taken to allow only necessary services to run and to limit the number of listening ports that could be attacked. This might warrant placing core VoIP devices in a safe zone behind a firewall or a router with access filters. Routine monitoring Managed services are a good idea if you do not have the resources to keep an eye on your network. It also makes sense when your VoIP system becomes mission critical. You should establish daily, weekly and quarterly milestones of activity to watch for. This ensures your system is performing adequately and that your VoIP has not been compromised. Sound practices Observe sound security practices. Strong passwords, anti-virus protection, reliable backup, etc. are all part of a good data security program. If you have a good data security program already in place then you have that much of an advantage when implementing VoIP Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. Data Security in a Converged Network A Siemens White Paper 6

8 Will security issues slow the adoption of VoIP technologies? Probably not. Although several organizations have delayed implementing VoIP technologies until the security impact to the organization could be analyzed this delay has only been a few weeks in duration and is negligible in the overall adoption rate. Many organizations quickly realize the issues we have presented in this paper and concluded that no additional security risks are introduced through the implementation of VoIP. Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. 900 Broken Sound Parkway Boca Raton, FL Collateral stock number G0303-W Availability and technical specifications are subject to change without notice. PDF Produced in the U.S.A. Siemens Information and Communication Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Siemens is a registered trademark of Siemens AG. All other trademarks, product and company names are the property of their respective owners.

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