Uncovering the Next Infrastructure Blind Spot: SSL

By: Ananda Rajagopal, Vice President of Product Management AnandaRajagopal

Visibility: the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as the “capability of affording an unobstructed view”. In the world of business, visibility delivers relevant insight, which can be the difference between just-in-time action and a missed opportunity. This is why traffic-based visibility powers the business of NOW! Yet, the nature of traffic visibility is such that underlying shifts in payload types and patterns requires solutions that can readily adapt to these shifts and provide an unobstructed view of traffic to the administrator.

Many security and network administrators are facing up to an underlying shift in enterprise traffic: a growing portion of it is encrypted within SSL. According to an independent study done by NSS Labs, anywhere from 25%-35% of enterprise traffic is encrypted in SSL and is growing further every month. In some verticals, that number is already higher. By itself, this statistic would not cause a flutter but this is exacerbated by other findings on the state of today’s security and performance monitoring infrastructure:

  • Although inline devices such as ADCs, firewalls etc. have integrated SSL support, out-of-band monitoring and security tools often do not have the ability to access decrypted traffic to perform security and performance analysis. This allows SSL traffic to fly under the radar, creating a potential security loophole.
  • Consequently, performance management tools and many out-of-band security tools are either completely blind to SSL traffic or get overloaded if they decrypt SSL. In discussions with many of our customers, they have pointed out a drop in performance by almost 80% if the tool decrypts SSL.
  • Many security administrators are using larger ciphers for increased security today. A study by NSS Labs noted a performance degradation of 81% in existing SSL architectures.
  • Hackers and cybercriminals are increasingly using SSL sessions to dodge network security defenses. Indeed, a Dec. 9, 2013 Gartner report titled “Security Leaders Must Address Threats From Rising SSL Traffic” by Jeremy D’Hoinne and Adam Hils, “Gartner believes that, in 2017, more than half of the network attacks targeting enterprises will use encrypted traffic to bypass controls, up from less than 5% today”.

In short, the very technology that was supposed to ensure confidentiality is now being exploited by nefarious actors. These are precisely the reasons that have driven us at Gigamon to come with the next innovation in visibility—the industry’s first and only visibility solution with integrated SSL support. With built-in hardware to decrypt SSL sessions at high performance, this new capability provides visibility into a critical blind spot facing administrators today. It is not without reason that analysts, customers and our technology ecosystem partners who have been privy to this development are all agog with excitement!

This new capability is yet another proof point of what GigaSMART can offer to IT and security administrators. GigaSMART is a platform that allows advanced traffic intelligence to be extracted via various applications that can be dynamically enabled and run in combination on a common underlying platform. Contrast this with other visibility products that offer point features to address point problems with point hardware—over time, both capital and operational costs of managing point products rapidly add up until they can no longer offer visibility to the next blind spot the administrator seeks to uncover. Gigamon’s GigaSMART technology solves visibility challenges holistically with a platform-based architectural approach. If you are a Gigamon customer who has already invested in GigaSMART on any of the GigaVUE-H Series platforms, you do not need any new hardware to run this new SSL application! The benefits of this platform-based approach are considerable. Here are three examples related to SSL decryption:

  • You can service chain multiple GigaSMART applications together. Interested in sending encrypted traffic at a remote site to a centrally located data loss prevention appliance? Not a problem. You can run both the tunneling and SSL decryption applications on GigaSMART in combination. Want to monitor secure VM-VM traffic between specific enterprise applications and generate NetFlow records on that traffic? Amen! You can combine tunneling, SSL decryption and the NetFlow generation applications on GigaSMART to generate NetFlow records on encrypted traffic. Have a concern about data misuse after decryption? You can combine SSL decryption with the packet masking/slicing applications on GigaSMART to support compliance with regulatory and/or organizational policies.
  • By combining SSL decryption with clustering in a Visibility Fabric, traffic from low-cost edge ports in the visibility infrastructure is automatically routed to the node in the cluster that has SSL decryption capability. This eliminates the need for SSL decryption solutions to be distributed at multiple locations, saving cost and ensuring better security in key management.
  • By delivering ‘Decryption as a Service’ via the Gigamon Visibility Fabric implemented with GigaSMART, administrators can increase the overall performance of their tooling infrastructure. The SSL traffic is decrypted once and then delivered to every tool that needs it, such as IDS, DLP, anti-malware, and even APM and other non-security tools.

For those who think that visibility can be obtained through mere “tap aggregation”, think again. Visibility must provide insight into infrastructure blind spots. Visibility is about extracting traffic intelligence to increase the performance of security and operational tools connected to the visibility infrastructure so that administrators can get the right insight. The nature of visibility is such that new challenges will arise tomorrow that today’s visibility solution should be able to adapt to—something that a repurposed Ethernet switch is simply not designed for. After all, isn’t visibility about offering an “unobstructed view”?

For more information including example use cases, visit our webpage on SSL Visibility.

De-risk New Service Provider Technology Deployments: Addressing The Triple Challenge of Network Transformation

Andy_HuckridgeBy: Andy Huckridge,
Director of Service Provider Solutions, Gigamon

Operators are facing a slew of new technologies to roll out, but this time around there’s a difference. In the past operators have been able to deploy new technologies in series, that is, one after another. With the current new technologies, due to the interdependency on each other, they are linked. Therefore instead of deploying the new technologies in series, the deployment of one new technology forces the deployment of another new technology, and so on until all three new technologies are deployed. Gigamon has developed a strategy to explain the three technologies, the interdependencies between them, highlight why this is bad from the operators perspective and explore ways to overcome the resource crunch which will become evident by the deployment of a unified tool rail approach in parallel with the new technology rollouts.

Linear Diagram

What is the Triple Challenge & Why will it occur?

The Triple Challenge defines the operator’s predicament to be able to deploy next generation technologies, which are made up of:

IP Voice

  1. VoLTE, IR.92 primarily for Mobile carriers; PLMN
  2. VoWiFi, applicable to Mobile, Fixed or Cable providers; PSTN, PLMN & MSO
  3. VoIMS, as the underlying technology to all modern day IP Voice implementations

High speed transport pipes

  1. Multiple bonded 10Gb
  2. 40Gb
  3. 100Gb

Network Virtualisation

  1. Traditional server virtualisation
  2. Software Defined Networking
  3. Network Functions Virtualisation

The operator is faced with a number of decisions to make:

  • Virtualize the core first, then deploy VoLTE as a virtualized network function, or deploy VoLTE as a legacy function in their traditional network since the network is already in place?
  • Upgrade the core beforehand due to worries about DiffServ, MPLS transmission or QoS issues in general, or wait until bandwidth requirements placed upon the 4G/LTE RAN force the move of voice services from the existing circuit switched 2G RAN?
  • Upgrade core routers in anticipation of rising RAN traffic, or virtualize the core routing network elements first?

It appears there is no correct answer to whether the horse or the cart goes first. Indeed – it seems there is even a virtual horse involved. So with this level of uncertainty and all-encompassing network transformation, there is only one constant – the need to be able to monitor the new technologies completely and comprehensively; and the network changes involved to make sure the newly deployed technologies are working in the way the network equipment manufacturer has promised during the design phase and are satisfying expectation whence turned-up and actually deployed. It is said that the person who is wrong is the person who can’t prove they are right. Monitoring of packets-in-motion greatly helps to add the legitimacy required in the conversation between the operator and the NEM when deployments of new technology don’t quite go to plan.

Circular DiagramHere we see a graphical representation the resource hit and how one technology causes the in parallel rollout of the other “Triple Challenge” technologies:

This is due to the three technologies being interdependent; deploying any one will result in either of the other two technologies also being deployed. Thus catching the operator out with regard to the amount of resources needed to deploy the new Triple Challenge technologies.

Monitoring can play a great part in de-risking the deployment of these three new technologies, and being able to not only find the needle in the haystack, but to find the real needle as opposed to a fake needle, in a reduced number of haystacks