Network Critical - The Window to your Network

Securing the Data Center

Back doors - is your network secure

Amid growing concerns over backdoor access and possible data leakage, the need for real-time network monitoring has never been greater. With businesses and technologies working at faster speeds than ever before, replying completely on scaling via SPAN and VACL ports is simply not an option in today’s era of high speed networking. Enterprises need solutions that scale quickly to minimize the risk of downtime, maintain security and ensure that the data center is operating at optimal efficiency. This is where our Smart Network Access (SmartNA™) System comes into play.

 A secure data center hinges on having the ability to proactively monitor the network. This can only be done if network traffic is 100 percent visible; this means being able to view activity across the network as it happens. The most efficient way to do this is by installing TAPs between the major network devices in the data center to ensure that the frames being captured are unchanged (unlike SPAN which alters frames and drops packets). This will allow IT to easily access and monitor the data for any anomalies that might be present, thereby increasing their ability to preempt the occurrence of downtime on the network.

With Network Critical’s SmartNA, you can rest assured that your data is not only secure from the watchful eyes of intruders, but also successfully delivered to the monitoring tools in your network. By housing several different modules capable of performing the necessary filtering, aggregating and regeneration functions into this single chassis, we’ve developed a solution that frees up more rack space in the data center while reducing power consumption. That’s cost savings and data center security all in one!

At Network Critical, our customers range from the financial sector, to government agencies, to global telecom companies. These sectors in particular, as well as many others from our customers’ industries, require the utmost security. To learn more about how Network Critical can upgrade your security please contact us.

Posted: 30/07/2015 15:25:11 by Global Administrator with 0 comments

The Three Pillars of Network Visibility

Three Pillars - rules related to network visibility

It’s no secret that network downtime can be costly for enterprises, reducing productivity and eroding revenue along with customer and employee confidence (as was the case with Amazon’s 25-minute outage last year). Implementing an effective monitoring solution gives you the increased visibility needed to anticipate necessary improvements to your network, providing the foresight to determine the best course of action to preempt your network from experiencing downtime. To that end, we will highlight the three pillars of visibility, to helping you determine the best possible solution for your network.

  • Unobtrusive access: Proper analysis of network data requires access to traffic flowing in, out and within the network, without causing disruptions. This is done typically one of two ways: 1) using a SPAN session (sometimes called “port mirroring”) or 2) through a network TAP (Test Access Port). Although SPAN ports tend to be inexpensive, we prefer TAPs because of their ability to monitor traffic without dropping packets.
  • Accurate network monitoring: Having a solution in place that allows you to view network activity in real-time provides numerous benefits. It allows IT management to provide a more accurate assessment of the amount of latency being experienced in the network and gives IT a more precise definition of “normal” network behavior.
  • Data analysis: Monitoring tools and data leakage prevention technologies should work in tandem to centralize data storage and enable validation of results. Data analysis and interdepartmental collaboration both improve when various departments see the same set of data, avoiding confusion by ensuring consistency across the organization. 

Taken together, these three pillars of visibility enable you to make an informed decision to determine if the network monitoring solutions you had in mind are an appropriate fit for your network’s needs.

Posted: 16/07/2015 15:34:26 by Global Administrator with 0 comments

Connecting Multiple Security and Analysis Appliances with Taps and Aggregators – A Real World Example


A newtwork security control center

We have written many times about the benefits of using in-line taps and packet brokers to connect network tools for capture, collection, analysis and security. We recently heard from the IT department at a very large government network that is using Network Critical integrated taps and aggregators to connect an amazing number and variety of appliances, all performing unique and specialized services. Some of these tools are connected in-line to take real time protective action and others are connective in a passive manner for collection and analysis. While most networks have three to five devices on a link, these guys have seven. But it is the variety — and the criticality — that really stands out to us.

First, a quick review of why network engineers do not just attach these tools directly to network links. While network analysis and security tools provide important information and protection for networks, they can cause disruption and reduce network availability. When tools need to be connected ”in-line”, meaning packets flow actively through the appliance, any downtime associated with the tool is downtime for the network. Other tools that provide data collection and analysis do not need to be connected in-line but still need a copy of the network traffic. Taps provide a copy of the packet flows to these tools. This is called a “passive” connection.

For maximum security and manageability, the team has connected a Sourcefire 3D Sensor, Bluecoat SSL Proxy, Fidelis XPS Direct and FireEye Advanced Threat Protection tool, using the SmartNA V-line modules for active connections. That was the “in-line” security stack..

For maximum manageability and visibility, they also use SmartNA passive tap modules to connect LANCOPE Network Visibility, NetWitness Decoder and SiLK network analysis tools.

This is a very large network that is using best in class tools for maximum visibility and network security. It takes many specialized tools to achieve full network protection with capture and analysis functionality. The SmartNA taps enable this high level of specialization while providing a non-intrusive connection and maintaining maximum network availability with fail-safe and by-pass functionality.

Regardless of whether tools are connected in in-line or passive modes, when a tap is used to connect tools to links, the network will maintain operation if the tool is off-line. This is accomplished by automatic fail-safe technology imbedded in the tap design. Even in the event of a power failure, the tap will keep the network link active.

Another benefit that an intelligent tap like the SmartNA by Network Critical offers is aggregation of multiple links to a single tool port. This allows information from multiple links to be accessed and analyzed, providing maximum utilization of the tool capacity and saving the cost of multiple, underutilized ports being purchased.

From the largest global networks to mid-sized Data Centers, connecting network tools using SmartNA Tap technology makes sense, saves dollars and maintains high availability.

Posted: 09/07/2015 15:35:47 by Global Administrator with 0 comments