Improving Cybersecurity Posture With Passive Optical LAN

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History has far too many high-profile, worst-case scenario examples of network data breaches. These situations drive CIOs and IT pros to invest in transforming IT infrastructure and ensure that corporate info is secure, protected, and highly available. From stolen corporate digital assets to lost productivity, security is important to enterprise network staff because there are significant costs associated with data breaches. The LAN switching equipment and infrastructure are all possible entry points for malicious activity.

With that in mind, it is best for CIOs and IT pros to have a proactive data breach response plan. With a secure, proactive LAN in place, an organization may experience fewer lost costs, more reliable network KPIs, and lower cybersecurity insurance premiums. Better yet, a highly secure LAN can create a productive, less stressful, and healthier work environment for corporate employees.

Passive Optical LAN plays a vital role in providing a more secure LAN where security policies and procedures are implemented consistently, with fewer human errors across a more reliable network.

To that end, this article will cover the top security benefits for contemporary Optical LAN compared to legacy copper-based LAN, element management security, the optical plant (cabling infrastructure) security, and specifically the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) security.

Optical LAN vs. Legacy Copper-based LAN

An active, legacy copper-based Ethernet LAN can portray a complex distributed network. Its resources are dispersed to the furthest reach of the LAN, making it tricky to implement and manage consistent security policy and process. With network intelligence distributed to all end-points, security policy and procedures, and equipment configurations – more human touches are required, increasing the chance of errors and lowering security.

In comparison, a Passive Optical LAN architecture promotes centralized intelligence and software-defined networking management. As a result, implementing consistent security policies and processes can be done with confidence. Additionally, an Optical LAN design reduces network vulnerability points by lessening or eliminating full-functioning switches from the data center and telecommunication rooms.

Optical LAN is ideal for improving physical LAN security, enabling consistent security policies, reducing human error, and increasing network stability via:

  • A shorter Information Assurance (IA) process
  • One or two devices to the Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) versus hundreds
  • Fewer network devices to secure and manage the STIG
  • Protection of one or two telecommunication room doors
  • Elimination of the ability for bad actors to access full-functioning switches and ports

Fiber Optic Cabling

The in-building fiber cabling infrastructure can make significant contributions to overall security. Fiber optic cabling is far more secure than copper cabling. With fiber, security is not susceptible to interference from cross-talk, EMI, RFI, and EMP. Copper cabling is the opposite, enabling radiated emissions to eavesdrop without physical access. You cannot listen to fiber from just any distance and would need to gain entry into the infrastructure to do so.

The process of physically tapping fiber is very complicated and requires the right expertise and equipment. G-PON and 10-gigabit XGS-PON are protocols used to detect any abnormal, rogue, or intrusive events. Therefore, any physical tapping attempts will be thwarted.

Optical Network Terminal (ONT)

The Passive Optical LAN ONTs are inherently secure. ONTs are designed without local management access because there are few needs for human touches. LAN ONTs are simple optical-to-electrical terminals and are highly stable and reliable, ultimately improving security.

Because Optical LAN has central intelligence and software-defined networking management, network information is not stored through the ONTs – user and provisioning information does not live physically on the ONT. ONTs are a thin client, meaning that user/device policies are managed solely back at the OLT and management software. Therefore, ONTs can move freely around the LAN and be sent to the manufacturer for repair/return without the risk of network or user data being compromised.

Don't Be the Next Victim of a Hack

It’s evident that no one wants their company to be the victim of a data hack with their security weaknesses showcased across media outlets. An unfortunate cybersecurity breach creates real costs for businesses and a negative impact on employees.

More and more CIOs and IT pros are implementing Passive Optical LAN solutions and fiber-based LAN infrastructure as viable options for building more defensible LANs. With the right security solution, policies and procedures can become consistent, and vulnerable network points can soon be secure.

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