Gateway Implementation of Phil Zimmermann’s ZRTP launched by UM Labs

UM Labs Ltd announced the release of the first Gateway Implementation of Phil Zimmermann’s ZRTP. ZRTP safeguards the security and integrity of VoIP calls by encrypting both the voice and video streams.

ZRTP differs from other VoIP encryption schemes by providing a superior key exchange mechanism, eliminating the risk of unauthorised call monitoring and eavesdropping.

The UM Labs announcement means that ZRTP secured calls can be made from a growing number devices, including many of the newer cell phones, to any SIP based VoIP system including those from manufacturers such as Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Nortel, Siemens and many others.

The ability to provide this level of integration with targeted security is a key milestone on the path to effective Unified Communications.

As the use of VoIP services grows, the security and confidentiality of voice calls and video conference sessions routed over IP networks becomes a concern. One obvious technique to combat this problem is to encrypt the voice and video streams.

A number of encryption techniques are available, but most suffer from the problem that the encryption keys are exchanged in the signalling channel.

In layman’s terms this means that encryption keys are sent along with the request to set up a call. As every call routing device between the caller and call recipient must obviously be able to see the call request, these devices are also able to see the encryption keys.

This risks the confidentiality and integrity of the call because the keys can easily be recovered and used to decrypt a monitored call.

Phil Zimmermann designed ZRTP to overcome this problem by implementing the encryption key exchange in the voice channel where it remains invisible to intermediate call routing devices. ZRTP also includes features to detect and prevent Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

With this technology caller can talk freely, confident in the knowledge that their conversation is secure.

UM Labs have added ZRTP support to both the branch office and enterprise versions of their SIP Security Controller product.

Installing a UM Labs SIP Security Controller at a company’s network perimeter means that home workers and remote users are now able to make secure calls into the corporate VoIP network and from there reach any other connected user or to call any PSTN number.