Make no mistake – securing your organization from outside cyber threats is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of IT. In all likelihood, attackers are continually probing your network, seeking passwords, vulnerabilities or unprotected ports to gain entrance and privileges. Today it seems as if you need an army of appliances – firewalls, intrusion detection, forensics and more – to properly protect your organization.
Here's the hard truth – none of these elements will function properly without complete and total access to every piece of traffic that flows in and out of the organization.
The Value of Network TAPs
A network TAP (Test Access Point) provides a best-practice approach for connecting security devices to the network. It is attached inline along network pathways, and copies and sends every bit, byte and packet of network traffic to the designated appliances – all without interrupting or diverting that traffic in any way, shape or form.
Clearly, the way in which a security solution is connected to the network will directly impact its ability to do its job. Think about it. Inband applications such as firewalls and intrusion detection solutions need 100% visibility to effectively analyze traffic patterns and preempt problems in real time. Often, companies simply insert security devices into the live network between the router and the switch and assume they’re getting all the information they need.
However, trouble starts when traffic spikes occur. Applications can easily become overburdened, their performance can degrade and the solution can fail to a point where that additional traffic doesn’t even get analyzed at all.
Instead, network TAPs copy all the traffic flowing through the network and send a complete reproduction to each security device without dropping packets, altering the data or changing its timing. Without this additional precaution in place, a company’s malware detection, threat assessment, granular policy controls, content filters and other real-time analytics solutions could easily miss an eminent problem.
A network TAP also provides an untainted stream of data that can be used as a basis for forensic analysis, lawful intercept and other offline activities. If a breach has been found, you can analyze stored traffic to determine how they got in, what systems were accessed, what level of privilege was used and what data may have been stolen. This can be essential in helping to mitigate damage and determine the sequence of events surrounding the attack.
Network TAPs Provide Unseen Advantages
Network TAPs are purpose built hardware devices which makes them the least hackable part of your security program. Unlike the other elements in your solution stack, they don’t have IP addresses. Even if an attacker is in the network and actively hacking computers and other network devices, an external network TAP is not at risk and will continue to provide data on exactly what is happening and when.
By providing a purpose built solution that offers external access to 100% of your network traffic – both in front of the firewall and inside it – a network TAP adds an extra measure of security to every aspect of your program. When you eliminate the gaps in the traffic being read by your both inline and out-of-band appliances, you limit the number of vulnerabilities in your security program as a whole.
Want to learn more about the many network tools that help you manage your network? Download What Your Network Is Missing: 7 Tools To TAP