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New security tool to detect eavesdropping on fibre comms

By Shannon Williams
Tue 26 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Allied Telesis has announced the release of a new security measure to prevent eavesdropping on fibre communications.

Active Fibre Monitoring is designed to detect when a cable is being tampered with, and will raise an alarm to warn of a possible security breach, the company explains.

Fibre-optic links are used extensively for long-range data communications and are also a popular choice within the LAN environment. One of the perceived advantages of fibre is that eavesdropping on traffic within the cable is not possible.

However, it is now possible to acquire devices that can snoop traffic on fibre cables; and even more disturbing is that these devices are readily available and very easy to use,” Allied Telesis says.

In response to this threat, the company developed Active Fibre Monitoring, a technology that detects small changes in the amount of light received on a fibre link. When an intrusion is attempted, the light level changes because some of the light is redirected by the eavesdropper onto another fibre.

As soon as this happens, Active Fibre Monitoring detects the intrusion and raises the alarm. The link can either be shut down automatically, or an operator can be alerted and manually intervene.

“The security of data on fibre links used to be taken for granted,” says Graham Walker, senior product manager at Allied Telesis.

“But companies need to be made aware that it’s now very easy to snoop traffic on fibre undetected,” he says.

“Until now, the only countermeasures have been encryption, which is expensive and introduces latency, or sensitive light meters, which are complex to set up and can give false positives,” Walker explains.

“Active Fibre Monitoring is an effective alternative that is easy to use and completely free.”

Active Fibre Monitoring is built-in to all Allied Telesis “x” Series switches and firewalls running the latest AlliedWare Plus Operating System firmware. It requires the use of DDM-capable optical modules, which are readily available from Allied Telesis.

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