After several months in stealth mode, VoIP super-expert Peter Cox has finally taken the wraps off his new security company, UM Labs.

The UK-based startup is planning a range of hardware-based VoIP security gateways for release this year, and is at an advanced enough stage of development to announce the feature set of the first three.

The RC-2100 will be a gateway box designed to secure SIP-based voice, IM and video connections from roaming or mobile users calling back to HQ, to be launched in Q2 of this year. The EC-4200 will be a rack-mounted SIP controller for enterprises that require policy-based security to be applied, while the SC-6600 will do the much the same but for service providers. Both of the latter are scheduled to appear in Q3.

The apparently self-funded company has been Cox’s brainchild ever since he left Borderware, a company he also co-founded, last summer. Initially running under the flag of his own VoIP security consultancy, Voipcode.org, he ran a number of seminars preaching to the unconverted on the perils of using the technology without proper security.

Cox also wrote on the same theme using his SIPtap proof-of-concept program to highlight the ease with which VoIP networks could be eavesdropped upon.

The news release on his new company made clear his belief that VoIP security needs to be rolled out as soon as possible, but without introducing yet more complex integration problems along the way.

“The security model applied to many VoIP networks is one of isolation, physically separating Voice and Data or using VLANS to keep them apart and preventing any external IP connections. Unfortunately separation sacrifices many of the benefits of VoIP and makes Unified Messaging and the integration of all communication applications impossible,” he said.

“It should come as no surprise that the best way to secure applications such as VoIP and UM is to deploy a specialist security gateway. Both web and email have spawned their own security markets, in each market there are a number of products delivering security controls that standard Firewalls cannot deliver.”

The UK isn’t over-endowed with new companies in this area of tech, but at least Cox won’t be on his own, having teamed up with the prominent Scottish co-founder of security integrator, Peapod, who also worked with him at Borderware. Another influential friend is Phil Zimmermann, inventor of PGP and secure VoIP client, ZFone, and whose key encryption protocol, ZRTP, will be supported by UM Labs’ first products from day one. The SDES algorithm from German vendor SNOM is also mentioned alongside ZRTP.