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Spam Comes to VoIP

In the world of Voice over Internet Protocol phone systems, spam is called ‘spit,’ and it can make a mess out of a company’s system.

December 2, 2008
You may have seen baby bibs sporting the slogan "Spit Happens." Unfortunately, whoever coined the phrase may have been prescient. Spit, the Voice over Internet Protocol equivalent of e-mail spam, isn’t a huge problem today, but as technology changes and more people add VoIP as their telecom platform of choice, that may change, explains Dan York, best practices chair of the Voice over IP Security Alliance, an industry group that promotes education and awareness.

    Spit, which stands for "spam (over) Internet telephony," can happen when one VoIP system connects to another and overwhelms it with digital voice mails. There are several fixes. One would be to ask callers to press a set of buttons—for example, to press #1—to leave a message.

    However, since the majority of VoIP users are calling traditional telephone systems, the chances that your VoIP network will be the target of a spit attack are very slim. Still, it’s a factor to think about, says York.

    "We’re all drowning in spam in our e-mail in boxes. If you bring that image across to voice mail, it’s very scary," he says. "No one wants to come into work and have 100 voice mails and 99 of them are trying to sell you pharmaceuticals."