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November 2006

Optical network security: Inside a fiber-optic hack

Fiber-optic networks aren't hack-proof: A savvy hacker can crack them with ease, making optical network security a priority. You know that your copper-wired networks and wireless LANs can be sniffed and that your data can be compromised. But fiber-optic networks are a different story, right? Not really. Despite their reputation for being more secure than standard wiring or airwaves, the truth is that fiber cabling is just as vulnerable to technical hacks using easily obtained commercial hardware and software. There have been few public reports of fiber hacks: In 2000, three main trunk lines of Deutsche Telekom were breached at Frankfurt Airport in Germany. In 2003, an illegal eavesdropping device was discovered hooked into Verizon's optical network; it was believed someone was trying to access the quarterly statement of a mutual fund company prior to its release—information that could have been worth millions. International incidents in-clude optical taps found on police networks in the Netherlands and Germany, and on the ...

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