Q

Do gigabyte converter and SPF records present a security threat?

Do gigabyte interface converters or sender policy framework transceivers retain any of the information that passes through them? Network security expert Anand Sastry explains.

We use a variety of gigabyte interface converters (GBICs) and sender policy frameworks (SPFs) in our network. To my knowledge, these devices do not contain any memory nor do they retain any information about the network traffic that passes through them. Is it safe to reuse these devices between systems without risking security problems? I think of these devices more like media converters than anything else.

A gigabit interface converter (GBIC) or a small form-factor pluggable (SPF) are transceivers that convert electrical

signals into optical signals and vice versa. They generally transmit data at high speeds, typically 1 Gbps or faster. SPFs are primarily small form factor versions of GBICs.

As you mentioned, a gigabyte converter and SPF primarily act as physical medium converters (electrical to optical transceivers) and the built-in EPROM (programmable read-only memory) modules primarily provide information describing the transceiver's capabilities, standard interfaces and manufacturer. Thus, GBIC and SPF records don't usually exist. I see no issue with moving these devices between systems.

This was first published in February 2011

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