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The Third Network: What are the security risks for Ethernet as a service?

Ethernet as a service, or the Third Network, aims to deliver faster services to users across carriers and providers, but what are the risks? Network security expert Kevin Beaver explains.

When should enterprises consider when using the new Ethernet as a service? Are there any security concerns to be...

aware of?

The next generation of Ethernet, dubbed the Third Network, is an initiative of the Metro Ethernet Forum to bring Ethernet as a service. The way I understand it, you can think of it as Ethernet in the cloud via (or in lieu of) an ISP that offers "network as a service"-like software-defined networking connectivity on-demand and across multiple carriers and service providers.

The Third Network sounds like a great solution in search of a problem, at least for the masses. As the need for cloud services grows among enterprises, government agencies and even consumers, I could see this technology being useful in the future.

As for security concerns, I suspect we will see the traditional network protocol and application level security flaws around denial of service and user sessions.

However, I can also see additional security challenges related to network/user provisioning, access and the like. Of course, as with any cloud-based service, there's always the resiliency factor: denial-of-service protection, uptime and so on. Just how resilient Ethernet as a service will be remains to be seen. Given that resiliency is a fundamental aspect of such a service, I have faith in the smart minds that are working to pull it together.

As with any new technology, beware of jumping in headfirst. Your organization will have to perform its own business impact and risk analysis to ensure it's going to be a good fit.

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SearchSecurity expert Kevin Beaver is ready to answer your application security questions -- submit them now. (All questions are anonymous.)

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This was last published in May 2015

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