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Only half of small and midsize business users feel they can trust the security behind IP telephony, according to a survey released Jan. 18 by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and IDC.

User sensitivity to any disruption of service in voice communication and knowledge that IP telephony relies on the same systems they know are vulnerable to viruses, worms and Trojan horses make it hard for any more than 50 percent of those surveyed to say they could rely on the technology, up from 48 percent a year earlier, researchers said.

“People are much more sensitized to disruptions in voice communications than they are with data communications,” said John Venator, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA, which commissioned the study.

“If the delivery of an e-mail is delayed by 30 seconds, neither the message sender nor the receiver is likely to notice. But a 30-second gap in the middle of a phone call is another story entirely.”

Conversely, 82 percent of the 350 respondents said they trust the security of traditional telephone systems, 72 percent trust Ethernet data networks and 60 percent wireless local area networks, according to CompTIA.

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“Security concerns continue to present a significant obstacle that has to be overcome to sell converged solutions to SMB customers,” Brian McCarthy, chief operating officer for CompTIA, told eWEEK.

“There is still a level of newness to IP telephony for many businesses that may make them skeptical about its quality, reliability and security,” he said. “Organizations have high confidence in the security of their legacy telephone systems but in the new IP-based communications environment, the system’s functionality resides on standard computing platforms, which are vulnerable to the same types of attacks that plague the data environment.”

IDC queried 350 SMB users, defined as businesses with 500 or fewer employees for the study commissioned by CompTIA.

Large enterprises face the same concern for “good, secure voice and data communications,” but “SMBs may not have the sufficient resources to understand or implement the best practices,” McCarthy.

McCarthy said the industry expects to level of confidence in IP telephony solutions grow as “customers become more educated about and comfortable with the technology.”

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