High-security networks, like those used in government, healthcare, retail, and financial applications, require a higher level of network security than commercial applications. While fibre optic networks are well known for their speed, they also present significant security benefits compared to CATx networks. The following security benefits are important to evaluate when considering fibre for high-security networks:
No Radiated Emissions
CATx cable, the network standard, carries a risk of radiated emissions while fibre optic cables do not emit or absorb electromagnetic energy. To transmit data, CATx cable uses electrical signals which conduct an electromagnetic field. Although CATx cables might be wrapped in shielding to help prevent leakage, the risk of possible exposure of the data poses a risk to security. The effectiveness of the CATx cable shielding depends on the material, quality of construction, and necessary flexibility. Conversely, fibre does not radiate electromagnetic signals and is extremely difficult to tap.
Travels Long Distances
By using light to transmit data at high speeds and great distances, fibre optic cable has very little loss. Unlike the native 328 foot (100 meter) limit of copper, the distances possible with fibre depend on the style of cable, wavelength, and network. As noted in 8 Advantages of Choosing Fibre over Copper Cable, fibre can travel from 550 metres to 40 kilometres depending on speed and cabling. Longer distance requires fewer signal repeaters and signal boosters and therefore fewer breaks in the system that may be exploited to compromise security. The less equipment there is, the easier it will be to centralising the system, improving overall security.
Harder to Tap
Because fibre is extremely difficult to tap, it offers data security unmatched by copper. Any attempt to break the physical security of a fibre network will be immediately apparent because the leak will cause the entire system to fail. Instead of having wiring closets and equipment throughout the building, fibre networks typically feature a secure central location to house all of the network equipment.
While single-mode fibre offers the greatest bandwidth, the exact speed of transmission depends on the specific types of cable. Fibre carries more information with greater fidelity than copper at speeds of 10 Gbps or better.
Reliability and Immunity
The core of fibre is made of glass, which is an insulator, so no electric current can flow through, providing extremely reliable data transmission. Because it is completely immune to environmental factors that affect copper such as electrometric interference and radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI), crosstalk, and impedance problems, fibre cable can be run next to industrial equipment without concern. Fibre is also less susceptible to temperature fluctuations than copper and can be submerged in water.
The proliferation and declining cost of media converters has made migrating from copper to fibre much easier. Media converters provide seamless links that extend the life of existing hardware. Fibre upgrades may include 12- and 24- strand MPO cassettes, cables, and hardware possibly in preparation for future 40- and 100-GbE networks.
Meeting Future Networks Needs with Fibre
Fibre optics are the right choice for most modern networks. Although other technologies may be sufficient, the capabilities of fibre are vast. As technology continues to emerge, fibre optics are making great strides, extending its superior capabilities even more.