Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Swiss government tests VoIP bugging

Cuckoo clocks, chocolate and now Trojans.

Article comments

The Swiss government has been testing a "white hat" Trojan that can listen in to phonecalls made using VoIP services such as Skype.

Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung , reports that the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK) hired ERA IT Solutions some time ago to come up with a program capable of infecting PCs and tapping conversations without the need to crack VoIP PC-to-PC encryption.

The program - which would have to find its way onto a target computer using some form of Trojan-like deception - would be able to record and save conversations, sending them to a remote server hidden inside normal network traffic.

If the PC was turned off before transmission had been completed, the program is would resend missing parts after the machine was next powered up.

Under Swiss law, using such a program would require judicial permission, but it is still not clear whether the country’s Federal Post and Telecommunications Surveillance Act would make use of VoIP taps submissible as evidence.

The effectiveness of the program will depend on it not being detectable by conventional anti-virus scanners, a style of subversion that is uncomfortably close to how conventional criminal Trojans work. The authorities have already indicated that it will be for official use only and they will not offer details of its operation to security companies.

This does raise an important question about the effectiveness of conventional security systems. If the scanners can’t see this program, can they necessarily see other programs with a similar design? There is growing evidence that a specially-crafted Trojans can beat most scanners, most of the time.

It is also highly unusual for a government to admit it is creating a program that subverts PC security, albeit for what is claimed to be legitimate reasons. The Swiss are the first to admit to such a thing, but they are highly unlikely to be the first government to have used the technique.

Finally, where does this leave VoIP security? Many suggestions have been put forward as to how such software, which employs tight encryption, might be stopped. The Swiss appear to have come up with a neat answer.

So VoIP will from now on offer a high degree of confidentiality only if the host PC in question can be guaranteed not to have been hacked by a Trojan, or can somehow detect the extra traffic that results from it.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *