The risks when networks collide

The increasing convergence of multiple networks for voice, data, video and other services onto a single infrastructure based on IP, has the potential to leave serious gaps in security according to the Information Security Forum (ISF).

Driven by the promise of reduced costs and increased flexibility, network convergence can expose organizations to unknown or unmitigated threats from malicious or malfunctioning infrastructure, devices and services. In addition, these problems are compounded if migration is not properly planned, structured and documented.

The new research from the ISF identifies the potential risks and rewards of convergence and details four key steps to secure converged networks.

Below are specific tasks to help organizations secure converged network services:

1. Protect core network services and infrastructure from malicious attack, accidental mis-configuration and equipment failure.
2. Authenticate and authorize users, devices and services to manage and restrict access to the converged network.
3. Create and implement a protection framework for end-point devices that can no longer rely on the network for protection.
4. Protect and manage services using the converged network using technologies such as encryption and virtual LANs.

“Convergence is shifting protection towards the devices, services and data itself with the network providing little more than guaranteed availability,” said Gary Wood. “While IPv6 does go some way to address these challenges, it is still not widely implemented in many organizations largely due to its complexity and incompatibility issues. Converged networks clearly offer considerable benefits but securing them requires a planned joint approach from network operations and IT departments to facilities and senior management and business users.”

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