Tapping fibre-optic cables

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. Used to be thought to be difficult or even impossible, can currently be done
    with less than USD1000 worth of equipment
    <http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=222&tag=nl.e036>.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 27, 2007
    #1
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  2. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    RL Guest

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > Used to be thought to be difficult or even impossible, can currently be done
    > with less than USD1000 worth of equipment
    > <http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=222&tag=nl.e036>.


    Tapping fibre can be a simple process, as you've now discovered. There
    are however complexities. With coax cable you only have one signal, with
    fibre you can carry multiple signals at different wavelengths. So, the
    device probably only works with Ethernet, not telecommunications
    backbones etc.

    Another potential issue is that tapping of optical fibres can be
    detected even if the connection is not broken in order to insert a
    monitoring device. Bending of the cable alters the angle of incidence,
    preventing total internal reflection, and reducing the strength of the
    signal at the destination. Any network that needs to be truely secure
    should employ such monitoring. It makes sense even on encrypted links,
    as a lot of traffic over a network is likely to be of a known structure.
    This means someone silently listening on the network would have clues
    that could weaken the encryption.

    RL
     
    RL, Sep 27, 2007
    #2
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  3. In message <fdfo9a$6tm$>, RL wrote:

    > Another potential issue is that tapping of optical fibres can be
    > detected even if the connection is not broken in order to insert a
    > monitoring device. Bending of the cable alters the angle of incidence,
    > preventing total internal reflection, and reducing the strength of the
    > signal at the destination. Any network that needs to be truely secure
    > should employ such monitoring. It makes sense even on encrypted links,
    > as a lot of traffic over a network is likely to be of a known structure.
    > This means someone silently listening on the network would have clues
    > that could weaken the encryption.


    Detecting eavesdropping is almost certainly a waste of time. Far better to
    rely on eavesdropping-resistant protocols, such as the secure ones used
    over the Internet (e.g. SSL, SSH).

    The trouble with worrying about eavesdropping is it increases your exposure
    to cry-wolf-type attacks, which are a form of denial-of-service attack.

    This also is the fundamental problem with quantum encryption--it's so
    sensitive to anything that looks like eavesdropping, that it will probably
    be useless in practice.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 27, 2007
    #3
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