Are Your Calls More Secure With Landline or With VoIP?

Woman talking on phone outdoors
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With the increased interest in privacy these days, it is no surprise people are concerned about their phone conversations. One reason is the increasing number of tools of communication and the accompanying number of vulnerabilities and threats. Another reason is the number of privacy scandals that relate to phone communication.

Landline vs. VoIP Security

If you wonder which is the safer mode of communication — landline phone or VoIP app — you need to understand that neither of these methods of communication is completely safe and private. Authorities can wiretap your conversations in both settings. Hackers can too, but hackers find it more difficult to hack and eavesdrop on the telephone line than on VoIP. This also applies to authorities. Of these two methods, landline phone calls are a more secure option. 

Why Landline Phones Are Harder to Hack

Landline phone calls transfer data from source to destination through a method called circuit switching. Before communication and transfer, a path is determined and dedicated to communication between the source and destination, between the caller and call recipient. This path is called a circuit, and this circuit remains closed for this call until one of the correspondents hangs up. 

VoIP calls take place through packet switching, in which the voice data, which is digital, is broken down into labeled chunks called packets. These packets are sent over the network, which is the jungle of the internet, and they find their way to their destination. The packets may take different routes from one another, and there is no predetermined circuit. When the packets reach the destination node, they are reordered and reassembled.

The difference between circuit and packet switching explains the difference in cost between Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) landline phone calls and VoIP calls, which are often free. 

It is easier for hackers and eavesdroppers to intercept VoIP data thereby breaching your privacy. The packets are disseminated over the internet through unsecured channels and are easily intercepted at any node. Moreover, since the data is digital, it can be stored and manipulated in ways that PSTN data cannot. VoIP is more advanced and sophisticated than PSTN, and the avenues for hacking and breaching privacy are more sophisticated as well. Many of the nodes through which the VoIP packets pass are not optimized for VoIP communications, which renders the channel vulnerable.

Use VoIP With Encryption

One way to be less concerned about your privacy during VoIP phone calls and text messaging is to use an app and service that offers encryption and enhanced security. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption to keep your VoIP call private.