Allied Telesis has released what it says is an innovative security measure to prevent eavesdropping on fiber communications, Active Fiber Monitoring. The patent-pending technology can detect when a cable is being tampered with, and will raise an alarm to warn of a possible security breach.
Fiber-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 fiber is that eavesdropping on traffic within the cable is not possible. However, it is now possible to acquire devices that can snoop traffic on fiber cables; and even more disturbing is that these devices are readily available and very easy to use.
In response to this threat, Allied Telesis has developed Active Fiber Monitoring, a technology that detects small changes in the amount of light received on a fiber link. When an intrusion is attempted, the light level changes because some of the light is redirected by the eavesdropper onto another fiber. As soon as this happens, Active Fiber 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 fiber links used to be taken for granted,” said 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 fiber undetected. 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. Active Fiber Monitoring is an effective alternative that is easy to use and completely free.”
Active Fiber 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.