Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing leak on the NSA’s PRISM program retrieving American citizens’ phone calls and Internet data came as a shock to the nation. As it turns out, the practice of government call tapping has been going on for decades longer than once thought. It may never be revealed just how long such practices existed for, but there are ways to deal with the spying pre-emptively.
VoIP and hosted PBX systems rely upon the Internet for the transfer of data and, surprisingly enough, they are incredibly secure from unpermitted viewing. Small businesses using VoIP communications can rest easy knowing that their sensitive information is safe from any unwanted eyes.
When calls are made over traditional telephones, the data is converted into analog electrical signals. This signal is not encrypted in any manner, and anyone with a connection to the telephone wire carrying the call and access to the right bugging tools can simply listen in on information shared. This could include important business information, like credit card numbers, names, and addresses.
On the record, a warrant is needed for this kind of data retrieval by the government, but as has been shown by PRISM, a warrant doesn’t quite extend as far as many would like it to. Off the record, it is impossible to know who is being watched and when.
VoIP systems, on the other hand, compress all of the phone signals into digitized packets of encrypted data. If a government agent were to get ahold of this, there would be no way for them to decipher the data into anything usable. While the intended purpose of data encryption is to reduce filesize and bandwidth consumption, security ends up being a pretty nice side-effect.
Data sent through phone lines, as well as other unencrypted Internet data, is transferred along a single fixed path. These phone lines stretch for miles, and even across oceans. In the past, the government has sent submarines to place and monitor bugs for accessing this information in programs like Operation Ivy Bells. These bugs make it easy to spy on data transfer, and potentially spoil business deals that find out that a third party was privy to their information.
Hosted PBX systems use multiple nodes to transfer data through the most convenient route, since bandwidth traffic plays a large factor in Internet speed. Instead of taking one path, packets of Data from calls are sent through every open channel, reuniting at the other end of the phone call.
This is possible because the transfer of Internet data depends on bandwidth space, instead of geographic distance. The “fastest route” is constantly in flux, making it harder to track down. Even if data were intercepted and somehow decoded, all a spy would have is a small piece of incomplete information.
VoIP and hosted PBX phone services are great for saving money with small businesses, and owners can rest happy that their information is safe. Worries that someone is listening in on every phone call can be quenched, whether the agent on the other end is government or otherwise. Many of the popular mobile phone carriers were blasted for being willing collaborators with the PRISM program, but VoIP services are small enough for the government to ignore. The secret is safe with business VoIP phone services.