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High Level Visibility, Budget Friendly


Traffic visibility is a critical component of network management best practices. It is important to

see and to understand what types of traffic are traversing the network at all times. Visibility is

not a short term diagnostic session when presented with an alarm. In order to see and

understand traffic patterns, continuous permanent, accurate and complete traffic visibility is an

absolute requirement.


Every Network is Vulnerable

Beyond the basics of monitoring network activity to manage traffic patterns and network

availability during busy periods, permanent monitoring is a critical component for security.

There are many tools available to help organizations develop robust security. These tools go

beyond the basic firewall protection. The average network may have about seven unique tools

monitoring different aspects of traffic on each link.


To underscore the importance of a strong defense against malicious software, look at the news.

AT&T, the third largest cellular network provider in the United States, was recently breached.

Over 73 million records were stolen, some of which were published on the dark web. These

customer records contain personal information such as social security numbers, account

numbers and birth dates. Those customers affected are now at greater risk of identity theft.

The consequences for AT&T are that they are now defending themselves against seven law

suites in the state of Texas alleging failure to implement adequate security measures that could

have prevented a breach.


Over the last few years, both Verizon and T-Mobile have also suffered similar breaches of

confidential customer information in their possession. If these large network companies can get

hacked, it seems that there is no hope for smaller businesses with limited IT budgets. In fact, a

Spectrum Enterprise report found that 64% of North American organizations reported the total

cost of a breach is over one million dollars. The conundrum for small to medium businesses is

that they do not have the budget to fully protect their network from an attack. However, neither

can they afford to fund the cost of a breach.


Top Level Security on a Budget

Nearly everyone has Next Generation Firewalls for level one intrusion protection. This is, of

course, a basic necessity for any network. However, there are ways that even the best firewalls

can be penetrated. Some vulnerabilities are compromised credentials that can be used to

penetrate a firewall. Rogue or disgruntled employees who have the proper credentials are

another vulnerability. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) puts corporate network credentials on

personal devices that do not usually have the same protections as corporate devices. Phishing

attacks often dupe unsuspecting employees into providing confidential information to bad

actors. There are many ways around firewalls. This is the reason that the market is strong for

specialized tools that supplement firewalls helping to identify and block or delete malicious

software. These tools, many utilizing Artificial Intelligence technologies, analyze traffic patterns

to differentiate between normal and anomalous traffic. Traffic anomalies can then be quickly

discovered and deleted before serious damage is done.


The need for multiple security and monitoring tools on every link and getting them all connected

can be a strain on most budgets. Intelligent TAPs and Packet Brokers offer many connectivity

and management features but the cost for advanced systems can be burdensome.


Network Critical SmartNA-PortPlus-TA

Network Critical, an innovator in safe, permanent, complete and accurate network visibility has a

solution. Of course, Network Critical has a large portfolio of the most sophisticated, feature rich

monitoring and tool management solutions. However, a newer addition to the Smart NA product

family is the entry level SmartNA-PortPlus-TA that offers up to 48 ports for tool management in a

budget range for mid-level organizations.


It is important to note that being budget friendly does not equate to reduced functionality. The

PortPlus-TA is a robust traffic aggregator that can connect to links at various speeds ranging

from 1Gbps to 100Gbps.


Many links, particularly at speeds of 10Gbps and greater, are under utilized. Organizations can

map multiple links to a single tool thus saving CAPEX on tool purchases. For example, using

one security tool to protect three links can offer significant savings. In a network of 36 links,

only twelve tools need to be used to manage all 36 links assuming the traffic load was about

one third the link speed. The savings grows even more when one considers that four to seven

unique tools may be needed to protect and monitor each link.


The PortPlus-TA also helps network tools work with maximum efficiency by providing user-

defined bit level filtering. This feature allows the user to define the type of traffic that is actually

being sent to the tool from the link. By filtering traffic prior to passing it to the tool, the PortPlus-

TA allows even more links to be managed by any single tool.


Network Critical’s innovative Drag-n-Vu Graphical User Interface is embedded in the PortPlus

providing simple and accurate drag and click configuration and tool deployment. Included in the

Drag-n-Vu GUI are Layer 2-4 packet filtering, application session filtering, persistent load

balancing, static load balancing and dynamic load balancing.


The SmartNA-PortPlus-TA is budget friendly but also offers the critical features required to

connect multiple tools to links for robust network security and visibility. For more details on the

PortPlus-TA or to talk with a network visibility expert go to

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