Airport Security Depends on Secure Network Infrastructure

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By: Larry Loeb|

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Modern airports are hugely complex installations compared to what they were in years past. It’s not just about passenger capacity and baggage organization anymore. Security is now top of mind, and airports are all about access to loading areas, pre-flight baggage scans and no-fly lists. Airport staff must be able to consume and sort vast quantities of information to perform these necessary functions. As such, airports need a secure, reliable and always-on network infrastructure.

Scaling With Commercial Needs

Today’s airports have to cope with networks whose needs are growing progressively larger. Not only do airports carry an increasing number of operational nodes, but there is increased traffic associated with each node. The commercial shops that support passengers between flights are growing as well, and these revenue-generating outlets depend on an airport’s network for their own communication. If the network goes down, so do they.

From Legacy to Optical Network Infrastructure

The need for larger amounts of secure data can quickly overwhelm an airport’s legacy network. Many coax systems were fine for the loads placed on them when they were designed, but they simply can’t handle today’s data sizes. Network speeds have to be faster and show an assured security posture. This is the kind of pressure all transportation hubs are facing today, but it’s more acute when the Transportation Security Administration shows up at your office every day and wants to connect to your network.

Airport decision-makers should think optical for the new network’s physical layer. The installation of a thinner physical layer such as optical fiber is usually simple, and tapping into an optical network unnoticed is also harder to do — another security win.

Security Operation Centers

However, to be worth the investment, fiber has to be made useful. A security operations center in the fiber network is essential to asserting a security posture that is demonstrable. The exact implementation of the security operations center will vary depending on the situation, but having the position available from the network design stage forward will yield a far better outcome than having to graft one on at a later date.

A security operations center should provide a central point for monitoring, synthesizing and acting on threats and responding to cyberincidents. It will also enable business continuity and efficient recovery while preventing cyberthreats from affecting the business infrastructure. It gives insightful cyber-risk and compliance reporting and, finally, ensures groups managing crucial infrastructure components — such as firewalls, IPS and routers — are aware of potential threats quickly enough to address them.

Don’t forget that a security operations center is a great way to monitor overall network function. It’s not just a network operations center that keeps things running — a security operations center focuses on handling security changes through the resources available. A trusted partner can help identify what those resources might be in a specific situation.

The factors driving network infrastructure design for public spaces have changed in the past few years. For an airport, security has to be one of the most influential considerations.

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