Autumn 2017 Optical Connections Magazine


Designing security into optical networks

Optical networks support the Internet, enable data centre

up in SAS uniform,” he says, when it’s as easy to pose as a broadband engineer to access the fibre where it emerges from the ground. Technology exists to spot these kind of attempts. Fellow cyber security expert Marco Essomba, founder of iCyber- Security, points to ‘Intrusion Detection Systems’ (IDS), which monitor network trac for suspicious activity, alerting administrators and potentially taking action. But for both experts, one of the best solutions is physical security. “If I have got my fibre terminating on the ground and coming into a building, the first thing I want to do is make sure that building is secure,” says Essomba.

functionality and cloud computing. But these networks and networking technologies are increasingly susceptible to security attacks. What can be done? Ellen Manning reports.


T hey are the enablers of the internet, from data centres to cloud data also make them a perfect target. “Optical fibres carry over 95% all the digital data we generate and receive,” says Prof Polina Bayvel, professor of Optical Communications & Networks at infrastructure supports all the utility, health and transport services - water, electricity, hospitals and transport and its integrity is, therefore, paramount to our safety and prosperity.” Yet hacking into an optical network is easier than you think, says Information Assurance and Cyber Security expert computing systems. But optical networks’ ability to carry huge amounts of University College London. “Moreover, the optical fibre

Vince Warrington. “To undertake a virtually undetectable hack, the attacker only needs a few commercially available tools, such as a laptop, optical tap and packet sning software. There are even tutorials on YouTube,” says Warrington, who has worked with organisations including GlaxoSmithKline and HM Treasury. The main problem is gaining access to the cables themselves, which mainly run underground or under the sea. But it’s not impossible, says Warrington. “If the wiring is in a publicly accessible location – and usually there is a point on the outside of a building where the fibre optic cable enters – then it is susceptible to being hacked.” That can even be done by “hiding in plain sight,” he adds. “People think you have to go hiking over the countryside in the dark, dressed

To undertake a virtually undetectable

hack, the attacker only needs a few

commercially available tools

For Warrington that means integrating IT security and physical security. “If you’re an organisation or a business and you have got reasonable grounds to suspect


| ISSUE 10 | Q3 2017

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