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DIY Taps: Build at Your Own Risk

DIY Taps: Build at Your Own Risk

Jun 17 2015

As Datacom prepares to meet and mingle with some of the top minds in network monitoring at SharkFest 2015, we are examining a growing trend in our industry today: DIY. YouTube videos and online tutorials abound, providing step-by-step instructions for building a network tap at home. While the initial cost savings might be alluring, the possible issues (and, ultimately, costs) involved make this particular DIY movement a far bigger risk than it’s worth.

Here are 4 ways a DIY tap can put your network in jeopardy:

1. Insufficient testing. A network tap purchased from a certified manufacturer has passed many rounds of testing to ensure it can withstand environmental challenges, long-term use, and unexpected issues like power surges and errored packets. These tests require sophisticated, expensive equipment that is not readily accessible to DIY builders. Without performing these tests, you could be installing a tap that will put your entire network in jeopardy with just one power outage.

2. Unregulated by industry standards. Commercial taps are built with industry regulations in mind. Installing a DIY tap that does not conform to electrical, radio, or other emissions standards could invite harsh penalties for your company.

3. No failsafe protocols. In most cases, a DIY tap is built to be immediately installed, forgoing critical testing and inspection. In addition, they are often not equipped with failsafe protocols or diagnostic analytics. Commercial taps can withstand fluctuations in temperature and other environmental challenges thanks to thermal management technology. Some models are also equipped to prevent malicious traffic from getting back onto the network. Certified manufacturers also build sophisticated diagnostics into their taps that analyze the network’s flow of data. Without these protections, a DIY tap can fail, leading to unacceptable latency, dropped packets, and exposure to serious threats.

4. Unsupported design. A custom built tap requires custom parts and repair, and unlike a product purchased through a certified manufacturer, DIY taps do not come with customer support. When it comes to maintaining visibility into your network, handling repair or replacement on your own can be a daunting and risky task.

Relying on a DIY tap for your organization’s network monitoring needs is a big risk, not only to your network security, but to your bottom line as well. While building your own tap may save some money at the start, the potential damage and exposure it can cause your network is far greater. As one of the few independent manufacturers of network packet brokers and taps, Datacom Systems works closely with our customers, providing them with advanced network monitoring solutions to fit their unique needs.

We will be exploring this and other industry trends at SharkFest 2015, June 22-25 in Mountain View, CA.