Article | 31 August 2023

Enhancing Network Security: Exploring Air-Gapped Networks with LTE Connectivity

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Written by
Elvin Lim, Global Head of Product and Applications Singapore

The advent of sophisticated cyber threats and hacking techniques has made safeguarding sensitive information a formidable challenge. Today’s enterprises are in a relentless battle to protect their data, intellectual property, and operational infrastructure from prying eyes and malicious actors.

One way for organisations to fortify their defences and secure critical data against attackers is to introduce air-gapped networks, also called parallel networks.

What is an air-gapped network?

An air-gapped network is a secure and isolated computer network that is physically separated from the primary enterprise network. Effectively, this prevents anyone from accessing any type of application or data in one network from any device or vulnerability connected to a separate, air-gapped network. Long story short, even if both networks are working on the same site, they are simply not direclty connected to each other.

Benefits of an air-gapped network

Air gaps effectively segment networks in a way that ensures that if hackers exploit vulnerable applications in one network, they cannot access vulnerabilities in another isolated network. Some of their key benefits include:

Protection Against Remote Hacking: Air-gapped networks are less susceptible to remote hacking attempts, as there is no online bridge from nearby networks for cybercriminals to infiltrate.

Data Privacy and Confidentiality: Air-gapped networks ensure the utmost privacy and confidentiality of data. Information within the network is shielded from eavesdropping, data leaks, or any form of cyber espionage, providing peace of mind for organisations handling sensitive data.

Protection Against Insider Threats: Air-gapped networks also protect against insider threats since employees, visitors, or any individual within the organisation cannot easily transmit sensitive data outside the network. This can deter malicious insiders from attempting data theft.

Speed of Deployment for New Technologies or Applications: Traditionally, network teams require a lengthy security review before implementing any new application. Today, using cellular broadband to set up an air-gapped network, new technologies can be deployed quickly, without requiring access to the primary network.

Additional Bandwidth: In some cases, air-gapped networks are used to connect IoT devices or real-time applications without compromising the bandwidth of the enterprise network.

Air-gapped networks in the retail industry

Retailers interested in implementing digital signage, self-service kiosks, or CCTV cameras can now set up a separate network using cellular LTE broadband that doesn’t require access to or use of the primary enterprise network. In this way, new, innovative technologies can be deployed quickly and securely via air-gapped or parallel networks. (Source: How Air-Gapped Networking Improves Retail Network Security)

How to implement an air-gapped network

Implementing an air-gapped network involves careful planning, stringent security measures, and a focus on maintaining the physical isolation of the network. Some of the key steps for implementing an air-gapped network include:

Knowing its scope and purpose: Clearly define the purpose and scope of your air-gapped network. Determine what sensitive data or systems it will protect and why physical isolation is necessary.

Ensuring physical isolation: Ensure that the air-gapped network is physically isolated from the primary wired network – this is easily achieved by using an LTE/5G enterprise router, fully reliant on cellular broadband.

Implementing security policies: Establish comprehensive security policies and procedures for the air-gapped network. This includes defining who has access, what data is allowed, and what activities are permitted within the network.

Implementing strong access controls: Implement strong access controls. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for user access and restrict access to only those individuals who require it for their job responsibilities.

Providing user training: Train users and staff on the unique security protocols and procedures required within an air-gapped network. Emphasise the importance of compliance with security policies.

Answering some of the common questions

You may think that implementing an air-gapped network is a difficult undertaking. Good news: it is not. By deploying LTE/5G networks, independent from your primary wired network, Blue Wireless can provide your organisation with robust, dependable air-gapped networks on day one.

Here are answers to some of the questions we’re most commonly asked when it comes to air-gapped network deployments.

Will it be difficult to provide access to an air-gapped network?

No. While strict security protocols and firewall settings are applied to the networks, access can be easily granted to additional users through network management software (included in all our wireless solutions), where you can also customise the degree of access for individual users.

Will network segmentation setup take a long time?

No, not if you’ve partnered with an experienced provider like Blue Wireless. In most cases, we can deploy air-gapped networks in as little as one day.

Will more IoT devices on an air-gapped network make it more complex?

Again, no. All devices and applications, whether you have 10, 100, or 1,000, can be managed remotely and in real-time through a single central platform. With superfast 5G/LTE speeds, you can count on being able to manage your devices quickly and from anywhere, 24/7.

Is an air-gapped network expensive?

Compared to the average cost of bad security leading to a data breach—$4.45 million in 2023 according to IBM—air-gapped networks are comparatively low cost and a no-brainer for any company that handles sensitive organisational or customer data.

Further, when choosing wireless networks, these parallel networks are easier to deploy and less costly than wired networks.

Let Blue Wireless help you out

Blue Wireless offers a unique range of enterprise-grade LTE/5G solutions, unlimited data plans, configuration, installation, and ongoing management across more than 80 countries globally, making us the ideal partner for global businesses looking to achieve reliable network connectivity, quickly.

We recently worked with a leading fast-food company to deploy an air-gapped network for its delivery pick-up branches. This network was designed to enable a wide range of business applications, including self-service kiosks, inventory management, and providing Wi-Fi to delivery partners, while keeping it completely separate from core infrastructure and business data at the branch.

Talk to

Elvin Lim, Global Head of Product and Applications

Let's explore the opportunities of wireless connectivity for your business. Contact us to get your wireless journey started.

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