Securing the Optical Layer with OTN Encryption (.PDF Download)

Oct. 30, 2017
Securing the Optical Layer with OTN Encryption (.PDF Download)

The rapid rise in cybercrime, along with the well-documented costs to enterprises that manage the fallout of data breaches, has pushed the issue of network data security to the forefront as a strategic business issue. The Ponemon Institute estimates that the annual cost of cybercrime to an organization can be as high as $65 million USD.1 The deluge of data traffic hitting networks worldwide, including the mass migration of enterprise and personal data and workloads to the cloud, is the primary flashpoint for this issue. 

The privacy of data is most exposed as it transits optical-fiber links between data centers, enterprise, and central office sites that serve as the sources and end points of these services—the point at which extensive physical security measures commonly in place at these sites are no longer effective. It’s no surprise, then, that “in-flight” network layer encryption is quickly becoming a main (in some cases, mandatory) requirement for the optical transport equipment servicing these networks (Fig. 1). Key factors include:

  • Complexity and cost: The complexity and cost of implementing and managing encryption end-to-end in the network increases at higher layers in the network stack.
  • Network latency: Securing traffic “in-flight” must not compromise what is currently defined as an acceptable user experience for on-demand, mission-critical cloud-based services.
  • Network throughput/utilization: Given the CAPEX and OPEX costs associated with bringing new network capacity online, any tradeoffs in network efficiency resulting from encryption must be weighed carefully.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Operators need to carefully evaluate any trade-offs associated with the compatibility and impact of encryption techniques on the large diversity of clients, rates, services and network technology and architecture choices in play today.

Encrypting data at Layer 1 (L1) with Optical Transport Network (OTN) provides network operators with a compelling option for securing traffic in OTNs effectively, efficiently, and flexibly without trading off service performance or fiber efficiency.


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