Voice Over IP: Privacy and Forensic Implications

Voice Over IP: Privacy and Forensic Implications

Jill Slay (University of South Australia, Australia) and Matthew Simon (University of South Australia, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-515-5.ch002
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Abstract

With the tremendous growth in popularity and bandwidth of the Internet, VoIP technology has emerged that allows phone calls to be routed over Internet infrastructure rather than the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) infrastructure. The issues faced by law enforcement authorities concerning VoIP are very different from that of traditional telephony. Wiretapping is not applicable to VoIP calls and packet capturing is negated by encryption. This article discusses experimental work carried out to explore methods by which electronic evidence may be collected from systems where VoIP conversations play an important role in suspected criminal activity or communications. It also considers the privacy issues associated with the growing use of VoIP.
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Introduction

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, a growing technology, is set to radically change the way voice data is communicated and thus to revolutionise the Australian and International Telecommunications industry. With the tremendous growth in popularity and bandwidth of the Internet, technology has emerged that allows phone calls to be routed over Internet infrastructure rather than the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) infrastructure. It is currently estimated that there will be more than 24 million VoIP users in the USA by the end of this year, 2008.

This article reports on research designed to provide significant input into the current concern regarding the security and privacy implications of widespread adoption of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for personal and business telecommunications. The aims of the project were to:

  • Examine the potential threat to the privacy of telecommunications users’ by the capture and reassembly of VoIP packets from a computer or network after a VoIP conversation has taken place and

  • Evaluate the potential use of such reassembled packets in forensic computing investigations.

This work is intended to inform policymakers on the legislative issues surrounding privacy, telecommunications interceptions and electronic evidence preservation. It also advises, technically, as to whether this technology should be used in restricted environments, and will drive future technological security control developments.

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