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EU backs advanced network tech to boost resilience

IPv6 and DNSSec to bolster backbone

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An EU security agency is calling for greater use of advanced networking technologies - specifically IPv6, DNSSec and MPLS - to improve the resilience of communication networks.

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) argues that these advanced technologies have the potential to improve the security and resilience of telecom networks from hacking attacks or other forms of disruption. However, knowledge of how to deploy these commercially available next-generation technologies is thin on the ground.

ENISA advocates the pooling of best practice and operational experience as a way to bring everyone up to speed. The agency interviewed 12 network operators in the EU and found that lack of management and coordination between stakeholders, as well as a dearth of operational best practices, were potential potholes on the road to building more secure networks.

The agency carried out two reports. One looked at the benefits of the selected technologies in improving network resilience (here (pdf)) while the other looked into deployment issues and other practical concerns (here (pdf)), drawing its findings largely from interviews with network operators.

Andrea Pirotti, Executive Director of ENISA, said: "The recent spotlight in the news on networks unavailability, caused by cyber attacks and physical phenomena, highlights the urgency and the importance of ENISA’s work on improving the resilience of public communications. This is an area vital for European e-government, e-business and ultimately, the economy."

Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a traffic management protocol important in telecom networks. Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSec) adds digital signature to domain names requests, thus making the system more secure. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is a replacement for IPv4, the current generation, which is running out of addressing space.

All three technologies have been IETF-approved standards for years, but only MPLS is widely deployed. ®

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