Learn to keep your TAPs and NPBs secure

Security management of taps and network packet brokers (NPBs)

In previous articles we reviewed the overall topic of management interfaces to Taps and NPBs and in subsequent chapters took a deep dive into the topics of Fault Management, Configuration Management, Software Management and Performance Management. In this final chapter we will focus on Security Management which includes Accounting (as it applies to security access) and Remote Access and their related topics.

Security Management

Security management, and the associated topics accounting and remote access, of taps and network packet brokers (NPBs) is a critical aspect of ensuring the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of network traffic in an organization’s infrastructure. NPBs play a vital role in network visibility, monitoring, and analysis by directing, filtering, and forwarding network packets to various security and monitoring tools. Here are some key considerations for effectively managing the security of network packet brokers:

  • Access Control and Authentication:

    • Implement strong access controls to restrict who can access and manage the NPB.
    • Enforce multi-factor authentication for administrators to enhance security.
    • Regularly review and update user access permissions based on the principle of least privilege.
  • Encryption:

    • Encrypt communication between management systems and NPBs to prevent eavesdropping or tampering.
    • Use secure protocols such as SSH or HTTPS for remote management.
  • Accounting, Monitoring and Logging:

    • Enable detailed logging of NPB activities, including configuration changes and access attempts.
    • Monitor logs for any suspicious activities and set up alerts for anomalies.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention:

    • Deploy intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) to detect and respond to potential attacks against the NPB infrastructure.
    • Use behavioral analysis to identify abnormal patterns in network traffic.

Security Management Protocols

Network devices often have various interfaces that play crucial roles in their security. These interfaces include both management interfaces for configuration and monitoring, as well as data interfaces for actual network traffic. Here are some important network device interfaces related to security:

  • Management Interfaces:

    • Web Interface (HTTP/HTTPS): Many network devices provide a web-based interface for configuration and monitoring. It’s important to secure this interface with HTTPS to encrypt data transmission and prevent unauthorized access.
    • Command-Line Interface (CLI): Network devices are often configured and managed using command-line interfaces over SSH (Secure Shell) or Telnet. SSH is preferred due to its encrypted communication.
  • Data Interfaces:

    • Ethernet Interfaces: These are the physical or virtual interfaces that connect the device to the network. Proper configuration of VLANs, MAC address filtering, and port security can help control access to these interfaces.
    • SPAN/RSPAN/ERSPAN Ports: These are used for network traffic mirroring to send copies of traffic to monitoring or security devices. Secure these ports to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive network data.
  • Console Interface:

    • The console interface is often used as a last-resort access method, typically requiring physical access to the device. Console interfaces are usually RS-232 or Serial over USB, but other options are sometimes used. It’s important to secure physical access to the device to prevent unauthorized console access.
  • Out-of-Band Management Interfaces:

    • These interfaces provide separate network paths for management purposes, isolated from the main network. They can be used for remote management even if the main network is compromised.
  • Remote Management Interfaces:

    • Some devices offer remote management capabilities, allowing administrators to manage the device even if they are not physically on-site. Ensure these interfaces are properly secured with strong authentication and encryption.
  • API Interfaces:

    • Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow external applications to interact with the device. Secure APIs with proper authentication, authorization, and rate limiting to prevent abuse and unauthorized access.
  • Loopback Interfaces:

    • These virtual interfaces are often used for internal communication within the device itself. Properly configuring access controls on loopback interfaces can prevent unauthorized interactions.
  • Routing Interfaces:

    • Interfaces that handle routing functions need to be properly configured to prevent route manipulation and unauthorized changes to network paths.
  • Virtual Interfaces:

    • Some network devices support virtual interfaces, like virtual LANs (VLANs) or virtual tunnel interfaces. Ensure these interfaces are properly configured and secured to prevent unauthorized access between network segments.
  • Redundant Interfaces:

    • Many devices support redundant interfaces for failover and load balancing. Properly securing these interfaces helps maintain network availability and prevents potential security vulnerabilities in failover scenarios.
  • Monitoring Interfaces:

    • Interfaces that connect to monitoring and security tools, such as Network Packet Brokers, need to be protected to prevent attackers from interfering with monitoring or manipulating data streams.

Securing these interfaces is essential to maintaining the overall security and integrity of your network devices and the data they handle. Regularly reviewing and updating security configurations, using strong authentication methods, and staying informed about the latest security practices are important steps to ensure network device security.

Security Management Best Practices

  • Physical Security:

    • Secure physical access to NPBs to prevent unauthorized tampering.
    • Store NPBs in controlled and monitored environments.
  • Vendor Security Guidelines:

    • Follow the security guidelines provided by the NPB vendor, including recommended configurations and best practices.
  • Redundancy and High Availability:

    • Implement redundancy and failover mechanisms to ensure continuous operation even in case of hardware or software failures.
  • Regular Audits and Assessments:

    • Conduct regular security assessments and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities.
    • Perform audits to ensure compliance with security policies and industry standards.
  • Incident Response Plan:

    • Develop a well-defined incident response plan that outlines steps to be taken in case of a security breach involving NPBs.
    • Regularly review and update the plan to address evolving threats.
  • Employee Training:

    • Provide training to staff responsible for managing NPBs regarding security best practices, threat awareness, and incident response procedures.
  • Firmware and Software Updates:

    • Keep NPB firmware and software up to date with the latest security patches to address vulnerabilities.
    • Regularly check for vendor-provided updates and ensure a robust update process.
  • Network Segmentation:

    • Isolate the NPB management network from production networks to prevent unauthorized access.
    • Implement network segmentation to limit lateral movement in case of a breach.

By implementing these security measures, organizations can enhance the overall security posture of their network packet brokers and effectively manage the risks associated with network traffic monitoring and analysis. It’s important to continuously monitor and adapt these measures to address emerging security threats and vulnerabilities.

Recent Posts


We'll be Glad to Help You

For the latest information, product updates, and to check the status of your service agreement, please contact our support team