April 12, 2022

Is it possible to hack fibre internet?

Fibre optic cables have revolutionised the quality and speed with which we can access the internet. These connections, which transfer data as light pulses, allow information to be transmitted at the speed of light, which is a game-changer in an age of instant communication. Whenever possible, communities around the world are switching to fibre because it provides a quicker, more reliable, and less interrupted internet connection.

With the introduction of fibre optic cables came the assumption that they were safe and immune to security breaches because they were buried beneath the earth. Many people assume that hacking into a fibre network would necessitate advanced expertise, specialised equipment and an illegal combination of skills and techniques. This perception, however, may be incorrect.

Why is it possible to hack fibre internet?

The hard reality is that monitoring the entire fibre optic network around the world is untenable and hacking is not as complicated as many of us imagine. According to a recent report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), fibre technology hacks can be carried out by extracting light from the fibres and then using analysis, monitoring and recording software to decipher the stolen data.

The following are some things to think about:

  • Although fibre optic cables are typically difficult to detect and out of reach, it is also true that these networks may travel across relatively unpopulated rural areas. They're marked in certain areas so people don't dig them up or damage them, which makes them easier to find.
  • Signal weakness in the early days of fibre optic technology could have suggested an attack or breach of some sort. However, networks are becoming more tolerant of data loss, which occurs frequently as data flows from point A to point B, making it far more difficult to detect a leak.
  • Hacking fibre optic cables requires technology and expertise that are more readily available than one may expect. In some cases, network analysis tools used by IT professionals combined with a clip-on coupler applied by a cable installer are all that is required. "How to" videos are already available on the internet and there are several case studies for individuals who want to learn from other hackers.

Steps to make your data a lot more difficult to hack

1. Encryption

Many IT and cloud service providers offer a strategy for secure encryption of sensitive and essential data, whether it is stored in the cloud, on devices, in databases, or when it is transferred. This safeguards your information both "on-site" and "in-flight."

Data is conveyed as encrypted text that is readable to authorised users but garbled nonsense to hackers who lack the "key" to decrypt it. This adds another degree of security to your system and serves as a deterrent to hackers, as they won't be able to do anything with the data if they do get it.

Another way to safeguard sensitive data while transferring it is to disguise the optical channel whereby the data is conveyed inside the existing noise on the channel so that only the intended receiver is aware of its presence and can access it.

It becomes much more difficult for hackers to do what they do with these kinds of measures in place. Nonetheless, companies that handle sensitive data must be vigilant and not dismiss anything that appears as a glitch, bug, or anomaly - they all indicate a possible threat and must be investigated immediately.

2. Monitoring

Having physical control over who has access to the fibre optic connections and equipment, as well as monitoring the power supply for any abnormalities, can help to avoid a breach. Some people have security measures in place, such as sensors, that check for physical disturbances and if you operate in specific areas, it may be possible to invest in owning your fibre supply so that you can physically secure and manage your network.

There are also companies that assist businesses in designing and monitoring their networks to ensure optimal security. Any small changes will alert your power screening devices and sensors, and any undesirable activity will be detected immediately if your system is monitored.

3. Access control

While fibre internet is obviously beneficial for companies with a large number of users, the fact that so many individuals have access to the network can be a source of concern and a potential security threat. Internal hacking can be avoided by limiting and carefully managing who has access to the network.

4. Quality control

Another measure that aids in the protection of sensitive data is ensuring that you invest in high-quality fibre optic systems as part of the above-mentioned processes. Since the market is growing so quickly, many inferior products are being manufactured and sold. While they offer a comparable design at a lower price, they also come with a corresponding reduction in quality - one that can make a significant difference when it comes to possible hacking.

To summarise, while fibre internet is hackable, there are various steps that businesses and individuals can take to prevent or at least reduce the risk of this happening. Personal data is extremely valuable in today's information age, and it should be treated as such by anyone who stores or sends sensitive or significant information.

SEACOM Business offers a wide selection of modern IT security solutions, ranging from cutting-edge software to complete end-to-end protection for your company's computers and servers. Any modern business that utilises fibre networks and the cloud needs these solutions. For more information or to get a quote for our various cyber security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s largest network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including fibre optic networks and subsea cables. We offer a wide range of industry-leading scalable ICT solutions for large companies that operate throughout the region.

SEACOM is privately owned - making it adaptable to the needs of the client. We are the preferred ICT and internet connectivity supplier for African enterprises. We can guarantee fast, reliable and secure internet and networking services at affordable prices.

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