Air-gapped networks have been around for a long time and are simple in concept: a network that is completely isolated from the public internet or any other external network. This “islanded” network setup is used when a network cannot afford to be compromised from the outside. Air gapping networks comes with advantages and disadvantages. Diodes can help mitigate some of the disadvantages of air-gapped networks while maintaining security.
What is an air-gapped network?
An air-gapped network is a type of network that is isolated from external networks, including the internet, to ensure maximum security and confidentiality of data.
How are air-gapped networks implemented?
Traditionally, air-gapped networks are physically isolated from external networks, meaning that there are no physical connections between the air-gapped network to the outside world. Air gapped networks can also be implemented digitally using logical isolation or virtualization technologies.
What kind of industries use an air-gapped network?
Air-gapped systems are commonly used in high-security industries, such as military, intelligence, and government organizations, where the confidentiality of sensitive data is critical. Other industries that may use air-gapped computers include financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and critical infrastructure facilities, such as electric utilities and water treatment facilities.
Cybersecurity of air-gapped network
Air-gapped networks represent the ultimate cybersecurity backstop, limiting data access to only those with on-site physical access to a network. Having no digital access requires a bad actor to be present on site to cause any damage. This makes air-gapped networks ideal for storing data backups of critical systems, securing critical equipment or processes, and protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access.
Challenges of air-gapped networks
While air-gapped networks can be incredibly secure, they also come with challenges. The biggest challenge is limited access. To make use of an air-gapped network, a user must be physically present. Retrieving data from an air-gapped network requires some form removable media like a flash drive or optical drive, which leaves them vulnerable to insider attacks and physical media attacks. For the same reason, air-gapped networks are also difficult to monitor, maintain, patch, and upgrade. Air-gapped networks limit data sharing and collaboration with external parties. These limitations often lead to well-intentioned users attempting to circumvent an air gap, opening it up to cyber threats.
Air Gaps and Data Diodes
Conventional wisdom says that a properly maintained air-gapped network provides the ultimate digital protection at the cost of visibility, but what if you could have both the security of physical isolation and visibility offered by connectivity? A data diode is a network security device that uses optical isolation to ensure that data can be sent out of a protected network, but no traffic can get back in. Data diodes can be used in conjunction with air-gapped networks to provide complete network segmentation with the added ability to send data from protected computers and equipment to monitor performance, enabling real-time visibility of critical assets within a protected internal network.
What cybersecurity solution is best for you?
Need data from an air-gapped network without compromising security? Browse Fend’s data diodes and protect your systems today!