Transportation communication networks: Combating the cyber terrorist threat

Next Generation Communications Blog

Transportation communication networks: Combating the cyber terrorist threat

By: Thierry Sens, Marketing Director Transportation Segment, Alcatel-Lucent

Originally posted on Alcatel-Lucent Blog February 3, 2015

Talk of “cyber armies” working on behalf of nations might once have been the work of Hollywood, but recent events have demonstrated the opening of a new front in the global war on terror: cyber security.

High-profile attacks on film studios, a US military Twitter account, and several US retailers have led President Barack Obama to declare that cyber terrorism is "one of the biggest threats to national security" and that his administration is working to develop better intelligence on cyber threats. "No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids," Obama said during his State of the Union address on January 20. 


The head of cyber defence for the French military, Arnaud Coustilliere, also expressed his concern at apparent attacks on French websites in the wake of the terrorist tragedy in Paris on January 7. "What's new, what's important is that this is 19,000 sites." Coustilliere said. "That's never been seen before."

A similar cyber attack at an unnamed German steel factory in 2014, which sabotaged parts of the control system resulting in severe damage to a blast furnace, show that it's not just web servers and databases that are under threat, but complete ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure. Train, air and road traffic control systems are as a result all vulnerable, which poses unthinkable consequences for governments around the world.

There is currently a widespread misconception that IP communication networks are more susceptible to attack than a proprietary or TDM network. However, the German steel plant attack in 2014 and the hacking of legacy and proprietary industrial SCADA infrastructure in the Middle East by Flame and Stuxnet worms in 2012 show any kind of infrastructure is vulnerable.

Alcatel-Lucent has consistently invested in researching and developing highly secure solutions for its communications networks and infrastructure to ward off potential threats and provide added peace of mind to its customers.

For example, IP network infrastructure utilizes Network Access Control (NAC), encryption, and traffic anomaly detection. IP/MPLS also uses traffic segregation and isolation, which means that if one VPN network is compromised, the attacker cannot reach out to other VPN domains.

In addition, to detect intrusions and protect optical fiber networks, Alcatel-Lucent integrates advanced security features into its DWDM optical equipment, 1830 Photonic Service Switch. Layer 1 encryption of high-speed lines (10G), which are based on AES 256, one of the most advanced market standards, guarantees data integrity and confidentiality, and by preventing latency of even a few microseconds, does not compromise performance.

This type of encryption is ideal to secure the transmission of real-time high-speed data used by data centers, cloud infrastructure, and all critical communications. For railway operators, airports, road authorities and government agencies, which rely on these networks, constant availability is essential. However, with cyber threats only likely to become more sophisticated, they should be mindful of taking necessary precautions to avoid becoming the cyber terrorists' next victim.

See a detailed demonstration of how to fully protect the confidentiality of the information carried over the fiber:

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