The internet’s power to connect our devices to the world comes with a weakness—security risks. This is true for all internet-connected devices, even VoIP phones.
But do VoIP phones pose a greater or lesser security risk than traditional landline phones? In this post, we’ll compare VoIP and landline phone security, note concerns with each and share what to look for in a VoIP provider to ensure your calls are as secure as possible.
Landline Security vs. VoIP Security
No online network is foolproof. Not even the U.S. government. In 2020, it confirmed that the National Nuclear Security Administration had suffered a significant data breach.
VoIP and landline phone systems are vulnerable to security breaches in unique ways. Here’s what to look out for to minimize your risks.
Landline Phone Security Issues
On a traditional landline phone, your voice data is converted into electrical signals that are sent through a network of interconnected telephone lines. When these signals reach the person you’re calling, the recipient’s phone translates the electrical signals back into voice data. This system has three landline security risks.
After your phone converts your voice data into electrical signals, anyone with access to the physical phone lines can listen to your conversations by using a wiretapping device that converts those electrical signals back into voice data mid-stream.
You may be familiar with radio scanners that some people use to listen to local police or emergency weather communications. These same devices can also pick up conversations on analog cordless phones. So, if you are using old cordless phones, splurge and purchase a digital cordless phone. Plus, it’s nice to be able to move around your office while on the phone. However, even newer digital cordless phones can be hacked, but they require advanced equipment to do so.
Government Surveillance Efforts
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Law & Order,” you probably think it takes an iron-clad reason to secure a wiretapping court order. It generally does. But once a warrant is issued, government entities can tap landline phone conversations at any time.
You may be surprised to learn the National Security Agency began collecting data on millions of domestic calls since September 11, 2001, through large-scale surveillance efforts. Due to legal and logistical headaches, that bulk collection of phone data was curtailed in 2015. But it makes you wonder if similar surveillance programs are out there.
VoIP Phone Security
VoIP technology converts your voice into tiny packets of data and transmits them digitally through your internet connection. The privacy of your VoIP phone calls depends on your provider’s VoIP security protocols.
Any data transmitted through the internet is vulnerable. That’s why it’s important for your VoIP phone service provider to have robust security measures to reduce the danger posed by hackers.
Government Surveillance Efforts
Both VoIP and landline phone service providers are subject to the same legal regulations when it comes to granting law enforcement access to phone conversations. These regulations enable law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance once the proper warrants have been obtained. The risk is equal compared to a landline phone.
VoIP Security Best Practices: What to Look for in a VoIP Phone Service Provider
Without getting too technical, VoIP encryption uses a complex algorithm that makes the voice data packets unreadable while they travel from the caller to the recipient. So, if eavesdroppers intercept the packets, they won’t be able to decipher them.
Note, however, that not all providers offer the same level of security. When comparing different providers, focus on these VoIP security best practices:
To get a pulse on a VoIP provider’s reputation, look for online reviews from their current users. Customer reviews provide an unvarnished view of customer satisfaction.
Search news articles about all the companies you are considering and see if any red flags pop up about security breaches.
Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) Encryption
Before selecting a VoIP service provider, ask if they use Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) or some other industry standard encryption to protect phone data within its network.
Some VoIP encryption can affect phone call quality, and not in a good way. You should never trade good phone call quality for security. Look for a provider that offers both HD VoIP calling and a barrier to keep out hackers and eavesdroppers.
If you’ve ever tried logging into an online account and have been prompted to answer a unique question or asked how you want to receive a security code, you’ve encountered two-factor authentication. This is more secure than simply entering a username and password. Two-factor authentication may seem like a nuisance, but it helps prevent unauthorized access to your account information.
Can VoIP Phones Be More Secure Than Landlines?
Depending on the service provider, yes, VoIP phone service can be more secure than landline phone service. The key to VoIP network security is finding a company committed to maintaining stringent security protocols. That alone will greatly reduce the chances of someone eavesdropping on your phone conversations.