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May 2005

Snapping on SNMPv3

BITS & BOLTS The ubiquitous management protocol is more secure, but upgrading isn't simple. The "S" in SNMP never stood for secure; it was always meant to be "simple." Simple Network Management Protocol provides a critical functionality for facilitating network monitoring and management with products such as Hewlett-Packard's OpenView and IBM Tivoli. But it always came with a risk. The protocol's first version was inherently insecure; it lacked encryption and authentication, and was vulnerable to a number of easily exploited attacks. SNMPv2 was designed to fix many of the original security issues, but failed to close all the holes. It did add minimal authentication and some encryption, but it wasn't backwards compatible and was significantly slower than version 1. SNMPv3, on the other hand, gives security and network managers a protocol that is robust, uncomplicated and secure. However, while backwards compatible, it isn't supported by all devices out of the box. SNMPv3, of course, is not new. But, not everyone has upgraded, and...

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