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Volume 23 / Issue 10

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OnionSIP: Preserving Privacy in SIP with Onion Routing

Alexandros Fakis (University of the Aegean, Greece)

Georgios Karopoulos (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)

Georgios Kambourakis (Engineering, University of the Aegean, Greece)

Abstract: While more and more users turn to IP-based communication technologies, privacy and anonymity remain largely open issues. One of the most prominent VoIP protocols for multimedia session management is SIP which, despite its popularity, suffers from security and privacy aws. As SIP messages are sent in plain text, user data are exposed to intermediate proxies and eavesdroppers. As a result, information about users participating in a call can leak from header data, which cannot be omitted since they are needed for the correct routing of SIP messages to their final destination. Even more, traffic analysis attacks can be mounted with data stemming from lower layers. To redress this kind of problems, privacy can be achieved either by the construction of a lower level tunnel (via the use of SSL or IPsec protocols) or by employing a customtailored solution. However, SSL and IPsec are known for leading to undesirable, non affordable delays, and thus the need for a SIP-oriented solution is preferable. In the context of this article, we evaluate three alternative solutions to encounter the above issues. More specifically, we use two well-known anonymity networks, Tor and I2P, for secluding both caller's and callee's actions by securing SIP messages content. As a third solution, we present our proposal for preserving privacy in SIP signaling, by using an onion-routing approach, where selected sensitive fields of SIP messages are encrypted using either asymmetric or symmetric encryption. We compare these three alternatives in terms of performance, mentioning the pros and cons that come up with each proposal. Our work also presents the reasons why other existing anonymity networks fail to be considered as appropriate for preserving anonymity in SIP.

Keywords: I2P, Tor, anonymity, privacy, session initiation protocol

Categories: H.4.3, H.5.1