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SDN cyber security benefits of leased line bandwidth on demand

Online security for business is more than just keeping intellectual property safe from unlawful extraction. In the modern age so much of daily business, from customer service to data analysis, depends upon secure online access. With the cyber threat assessment continuing to grow, and with the damage a successful attack can do to an organisation, then it is important to realise the benefits of FlexFibre’s SDN leased line built in security packages.

Ciaran Martin is a man whose words should be heeded. As head of GCHQ’s cyber defence unit, he sees the daily attempts to infiltrate the UK’s digital infrastructure and to hack into company systems. And his warning, given in April 2018, is brutally stark: “It is a matter of if, not when, Britain faces serious cyber attack.”

It is a consensus shared by others in the IT security field too. Professor Nick Jennings has warned of genuine physical harm to individuals if hacks in medicine, transport, or power could take place. And even Dick Cheney, the former US vice president, has revealed how he has de-activated the ability of his pace maker to transmit and receive data from his medical provider due to fears it could be hacked.

With hackers successfully gaining access to control a BMW via tricking their way in through the tyre pressure sensors, is anything safe in this ever more connected world? And what can companies do to protect themselves?

If we go back to Ciaran Martin’s words, then it seems that there is nothing we can do to stop the attempted hack itself, but we can certainly limit the damage of any attempt through two key principles: timeliness and resilience.

These are the two guiding principles that have formed the core of FlexFibre’s leased line service. With its Software Defined Networking (SDN) infrastructure giving our clients near real time control over their bandwidth use, the controlling hub of our product provides a core module for cyber defence, with a number of built in features that can help detect and manage most forms of cyber attacks. It is a capability which previous networking systems have been unable to include due to their more decentralised set ups: having to physically change a router or a switch at a different physical location is far harder to do than with the SDN interface, where routers and switches are represented virtually and can be controlled via this graphical display.

Real time adaptability and monitoring, and all from a centralised SDN hub:

With timeliness a key issue in responding to cyber attacks, the ability of having a central hub to view your network’s traffic and users is a key advantage in threat assessment. And having the availability to react in near real time is absolutely vital to preventing an attack being successful. The simple truth is that the earlier an attack is detected the less damage it will do.

Traffic patterns can be monitored to ascertain any irregularity, and points of origin can be checked to ensure that that same traffic is originating from a either a legitimate source or a from a zombie computer, hijacked by malicious software, perhaps marking the start of a denial of service attack.

With FlexFibre’s SDN controller and its centralised hub, such traffic can be diverted to Cloud servers in data centres to ensure a continuation of service for real users.

Embedded security analytics that are continually updated, and in one place:

The attack that caused the NHS so much trouble in 2017 was simply because the most basic security precautions had been neglected: the software the hospitals were using hadn’t been updated, and an exploitable flaw, patched on newer releases, was used to take over tens of thousands of computers. Having a company’s access to the wider Internet passing through a single gateway allows it to be scrutinised by more robust security software, with Firewalls and virus checkers continuously updated to ensure the best possible security. Having it all in one place also means there is less chance of human error leaving a back door open for a hacker to exploit, as is the case with de-centralised networks and their armies of switches and routers. Being installed in a single point also means that your leased line can be protected in a more timely manner as well, as updates only need to be installed in a central point rather than across multiple servers over a wide network.

SDN Dynamic enforcement for real time countering:

When a threat is detected, resilience is key to damage limitation. With the central controller, trespassers can be kept confined to local areas rather than gaining access to the whole network. Furthermore, emergency back ups and traffic diversions can ensure that data is kept safe and that normal service can continue for clients and company users. By reacting to a threat on your network in such a dynamic way, FlexFibre’s leased line can help keep your organisation’s property secure and your systems running.

If you think your IT and Network security is in need of a review then it might very well be worth talking to one of FlexFibre’s consultants about how our SDN based system can benefit your organisation.