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3 Security Threats in an IMS Environment

Security is critical for the management of cyber threats. The digital nature of everyday business operations means that organizations must protect themselves from potential intrusions.

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) services are being adopted by Service Providers as a way to enable “anytime, anywhere” services and support the delivery of multimedia applications. These services have associated money flows and are prone to attacks and fraud.

All parties involved in IMS services should understand that it is their responsibility to participate in the security of these services.

Many different threats, vulnerabilities and attacks can be carried out at the service layer. We list the 3 main threats and vulnerabilities for IMS-based services:


  1. Volumetric DDoS

Volumetric Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks are common in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) space. Attackers seek to overwhelm the target with excessive data and make use of as much bandwidth as possible.

Crafted DDoS attacks involve bombarding Session Border Controllers (SBC) with a large quantity of packets. These packets are expertly crafted to force the SBC to devote a large portion of its resources to processing them.


  1. Protocol Attacks

Protocol attacks originate from deliberately manipulated Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) messages. These attacks make SIP applications vulnerable by flooding servers with huge quantities of fraudulent data, eventually overwhelming the server.

To be protected against this type of attack, SBCs need to be able to fix the malformed SIP. They should be flexible enough to defend against new attacks without the costly code enhancements.


  1. Encryption, Integrity & Privacy

IP media packets travelling over the Internet are sent as an open packet stream. This means media conversations are not encrypted or protected in any way and anyone having access to the underlying network can listen in on conversations.

By using encryption and integrity checks, organizations can ensure that only trusted recipients can read the contents of the message. However, these do not run end-to-end because the devices in the network core need to be able to inspect and modify the messages.


Cybercrime is one of the biggest issues that is facing our industry. According to Gartner, worldwide enterprise security spending is to total $96.3 billion in 2018, an increase of 8% from 2017.

Our IMS workgroup are working together to establish best practice and guidelines for the entire ecosystem. As more people get involved and work together, we can tackle emerging threats with valuable recommendations that support organizations and their digital security strategies across the globe.


If you’d like to get involved you can join our IMS work group here:

To read our IMS workgroup whitepapers, click here: