To provide insight into the networking industry, Westbase Technology run a “What Is” blog series. Take a look at the latest edition; What Is Parallel Networking.
What is Parallel Networking?
Parallel networking – also known as “air-gapped networking” – essentially creates an independent network which runs alongside, or in parallel, to the primary network location.
According to research firm Gartner, in 2016 30% of advanced threats targeted branch offices as the entry point – and with the adoption of new in-branch technologies increasing at a fast rate, securing this expanding network edge is essential.
Parallel networking is key to solving this issue as it allows organisations to connect non-critical applications which are connected via the primary network. This keeps the core enterprise network and data secure, while still connecting all necessary applications in the branch.
Consider the attack on Target in the US in 2013; customer data was stolen from their core network and systems, but the hack was achieved using credentials from their HVAC system maintenance company. As the HVAC system was connected via their primary network, it was all the hackers needed to access the customer data. By using a parallel network to connect such an application however, it is kept totally separate to the core network where valuable data is stored – so even if a hack into such a system is successful, the hackers still can’t access the business’ primary data.
As well as ensuring security for the primary network though, parallel networking can be used to deleverage it to improve performance. Technological development, and the resulting adoption of multiple new applications, is putting the enterprise network under strain as more and more bandwidth is needed. This could ultimately impact the performance of critical systems if the core infrastructure cannot cope with the added bandwidth requirements – and may even lead to the network being “toppled”. By connecting the new, non-critical applications over a parallel network however, this bandwidth strain is removed and the core network can continue to focus on supporting only critical applications.
The Use Cases for Parallel Networking
It is clear today that more and more businesses are adopting new technologies and applications to drive efficiencies and enhance customer value, and parallel networking is helping to deliver this securely:
Digital signage is often used by businesses to maximise visual impact and enhance customer experience. These applications usually require connectivity to enable their remote management by a third-party service provider or central team; but by allowing access to the primary network to achieve this, it increases the risk of security breaches.
In-branch CCTV is highly common today as it is essential to ensuring employee and customer safety. Much like digital signage applications though, it is often operated and monitored by a third-party service provider who require remote access to the equipment, posing an information security risk if connected over the primary network.
Kiosks, ATMs and Vending Machines
Kiosks, ATMS and vending machines are often used across multiple industries to improve on-site services. Again, they are typically managed by third parties and require connectivity for remote monitoring of the systems – so, again, a security risk could be created if access for such is provided via the primary network.
All of these application examples, even if managed by the primary network owners, still create risk at the network edge and could also impact on network performance by taking up bandwidth needed for critical applications – making them prime use cases where parallel networking can offer real business value.
Cellular for Parallel Networking
Connecting applications over a parallel network can prove to be expensive if using a secondary fixed line – plus they are less flexible in their deployment as they have to be installed where the fixed line can reach, and it requires a longer lead time.
By using a cellular networking solution instead though, the application can be connected almost immediately, requiring no additional deployment time, and can be positioned to suit the best fit location – not where connectivity dictates.
Providing high bandwidth and speeds, 4G LTE parallel networking can power even the most advanced applications, facilitating business advancement while maintaining network security and performance.
We hope you found our “What is Parallel Networking” article useful, to find out more about our 4G LTE parallel networking solutions simply follow this link.