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Phonotactic Reconstruction of Encrypted VoIP Conversations: Hookt on Fon-iks

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4 Author(s)
White, A.M. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA ; Matthews, A.R. ; Snow, K.Z. ; Monrose, F.

In this work, we unveil new privacy threats against Voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. Although prior work has shown that the interaction of variable bit-rate codecs and length-preserving stream ciphers leaks information, we show that the threat is more serious than previously thought. In particular, we derive approximate transcripts of encrypted VoIP conversations by segmenting an observed packet stream into subsequences representing individual phonemes and classifying those subsequences by the phonemes they encode. Drawing on insights from the computational linguistics and speech recognition communities, we apply novel techniques for unmasking parts of the conversation. We believe our ability to do so underscores the importance of designing secure (yet efficient) ways to protect the confidentiality of VoIP conversations.

Published in:

Security and Privacy (SP), 2011 IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

22-25 May 2011

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