Wavelength Encryption Bandwidth Security
Take your high performance dedicated connections to a higher level of security with encrypted waves.
By: John Shepler
With data security becoming more and more of an issue, every weak link in the IT infrastructure needs to be identified and hardened. If your network extends beyond your premises, like most every one does, those MAN and WAN connections represent a vulnerability that has to be addressed. A relatively new service does that now for very high bandwidth users. It’s called Wavelength Encryption or Encrypted Waves.
Security of Dedicated Lines
The vulnerability of your connection can vary dramatically, depending on how your packets are getting from point A to point B. Back when the connectivity standard was a point to point T1 line, you had pretty decent security. A single line consisting of 2 twisted pair was dedicated to your use only. It was “nailed up”, as they say, meaning it was as close to a hard wire between two points that you could get. Only when you discontinued service was the connection “torn down” and the resources assigned to someone else.
Fiber Optic WAN and Multi-Tenant Networks
That’s not the way it is today. Unless you own a complete dark fiber run and light it yourself, you are sharing facilities with some and probably many other users. Note that you aren’t sharing bandwidth itself if you order a dedicated line. It’s just that high bandwidth fiber, be it SONET or Carrier Ethernet, is multiplexed to transport multiple streams of data and yours is simply stripped off the stream when it is delivered to your door.
It gets even more complicated in MPLS networks. These networks are multi-tenant by nature. The operator routes your data and that of other customers on the same core network and hands yours and only yours to you at the network edge.
Then, there's the Internet...
The security issues of the Internet need hardly be mentioned. You would have a hard time building a network that is less secure. But you don’t use the Internet for anything critical, right? If you have SDN connections over Cable Broadband or 4G Cellular, you probably are using the Internet for transport without realizing it.
Making the Insecure Secure
The answer to security jitters is encryption. On public networks, these encrypted data streams are said to be going through a “tunnel”. You can do the encryption and decryption yourself, or you can have your managed service provider take care of it.
Who Needs Encrypted Waves?
When it comes to high demand, high stakes uses, like medical data within hospital groups, there is a need for very high bandwidth channels that also have high security built-in. Level 3 Communications is at the frontier of a relatively new high performance connection called encrypted waves. These are based on the same wavelengths that are generated by coarse (CWDM) or dense (DWDM) wavelength division multiplexing. Each wavelength or set of wavelengths can deliver 10 to 100 Gbps of dedicated bandwidth. The multiplexing refers to multiple wavelengths, called colors or Lambdas, traveling over the same fiber strand. While leasing an entire wavelength does improve your security, encrypting that wavelength really adds security.
It’s simple in concept. The new wrinkle is that Level 3 is providing you with the wavelength already encrypted and protocol agnostic. Send whatever you want down the channel without having to worry about the nuts and bolts of securing that data stream.
Encrypted Wave Services Available Now
Here’s what Level 3’s Encrypted Wavelength service offers. The encryption is AES-256, the gold standard. You handle key management through your separate MyLevel3 portal that has two form factor authentication access. Ethernet speeds are supported at 10, 40 and 100 Gbps. SONET / SDH 10 Gbps is supported, as is OTU 2, 2e, 3 and 4. FICON and Fiber Channel (metro only) is supported at 8, 10 and 16 Gbps SAN. Low latency routes are optionally available for the highest performance.
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