Ixia Debuts New Network Tap

Among the most useful pieces of physical hardware that networking professionals can utilize is a network tap. With a network tap, physical networks can be monitored for outliers as well as potential injection attacks. Network security vendor Ixia is now expanding its portfolio of network taps with the new Flex Tap Secure+.

Kevin Formby, VP of market development at Ixia, told Enterprise Networking Planet that the new  Flex Tap Secure+  is a net new addition to Ixia’s portfolio and doesn’t replace any existing network tap. He added that Ixia currently has 24 different Flex Tap modules.

The Flex Tap Secure+ can support speeds up to 100 Gigabit Ethernet and is a passive tap that should help prevent it from being detected by a potential hacker. The tap is inserted into the telecommunications line, not directly into a switch or router.

“When you deploy a fiber tap on a line, there is always an additional insertion loss inserted into the circuit that may or may not be detected,” Formby explained. “The entity using the link would only see a decrease in signal strength which in most cases would go unnoticed.”

He added that if an organization was using a standard fiber tap, there is the chance that the law enforcement agency/government undertaking the tapping could accidentally connect the monitor ports to a device that could transmit, for example, by connecting the tap to the transmit side rather than receive side of a transceiver. In that scenario, it’s possible to send light and data back onto the line being monitored. As such, the entity using the link would then see data such as MAC address information from an unknown device, which would reveal the presence of an unknown piece of hardware and hence the presence of a fiber optic tap.

“With the Flex Tap Secure plus, there are extra components within the tap that prevent light and hence data being injected into the device and hence into the monitored link,” Formby said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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