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MPLS Security Considerations: How MPLS and Network Inventory Management intersect in assisting to safeguard data

30 October 2023
Melanie Gomersall

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

We’ve heard it before: data is the new currency and running in parallel, we see cyber threats evolve at an unprecedented pace in order to hack this data. We hear it all too often with friends and family, of personal accounts and bank accounts being hacked…it goes without saying, the state of data security has never been more critical for businesses and individuals alike.

In the Telecoms Industry specifically, where the uninterrupted flow of data is the lifeblood of global communication, securing that data isn’t just a necessity—it’s an urgent imperative for national security, business integrity, and personal privacy. With the advent of sophisticated cyber-attacks, the need for a robust and secure network is more crucial than ever. Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is often cited as a secure technology, but it’s important to clarify that while MPLS offers several features that can enhance security, it is not inherently secure in and of itself. Rather, its architecture can be leveraged to build more secure network infrastructures. In this blog, we will explore the inherent security features of MPLS and how effective inventory management can either make or break your network’s security posture.

Security Features of MPLS

Logical Segregation of Traffic: With MPLS, data packets are assigned to Label Switched Paths (LSPs), which keep different types of traffic segregated. This segregation can be critical for ensuring that sensitive data is kept separate from general-purpose traffic.

Traffic Engineering: MPLS enables detailed traffic engineering, allowing administrators to define explicit paths for data to travel. By controlling the exact path that data takes through the network, network operators can route sensitive traffic through the most secure and reliable paths.

Predictable Paths & Monitoring: Due to the deterministic nature of MPLS paths, traffic always follows a predictable route. This makes it easier to monitor the network for suspicious activities. Anomalies can be easier to detect when you know the expected behavior of your network traffic.

VPN Capabilities: MPLS supports Layer 3 (L3VPN) and Layer 2 (L2VPN) Virtual Private Networks. These VPNs are isolated from each other and from the public Internet, providing a level of security against external threats. While VPNs can be established without MPLS, the technology makes provisioning and managing VPNs simpler and more scalable.

QoS and CoS Features: MPLS allows for advanced Quality of Service (QoS) and Class of Service (CoS) configurations. While this isn’t directly a security feature, prioritizing sensitive or critical traffic can ensure that during a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, for example, critical data still gets through.

Inherent Resistance to Some Attacks: Traditional IP routing can be susceptible to certain types of attacks that exploit the stateless nature of IP. MPLS, by virtue of being a connection-oriented technology, offers a measure of protection against these types of attacks.

Reduced Exposure: MPLS networks can be privately operated and isolated from the public Internet. This reduces the exposure of the network to external threats. Although this is also true for non-MPLS private networks, when combined with the other features of MPLS, it provides a robust platform for secure communication.

Fast Reroute Capabilities: In the event of a network failure or an identified security threat on a particular path, MPLS offers fast reroute capabilities. This ensures that there’s minimal disruption, and traffic is quickly redirected away from compromised or failed links.

However, it’s worth noting some caveats:

  • MPLS does not provide encryption by default. If data confidentiality is required, additional encryption mechanisms (like IPsec) should be employed alongside MPLS.
  • MPLS does not protect against threats from within the MPLS network itself. Proper network management, monitoring, and internal security measures are essential.
MPLS and Securing Data VC4

Tracking and Auditing within the Inventory Management System

Your network is only as secure as its weakest link, and in many cases, poor inventory management can be that weak link. An effective inventory management system should be able to track all devices, configurations, and software versions. Such capabilities are crucial for auditing purposes and allow for quick identification and remediation of any security vulnerabilities. In case of a cyber incident, a robust inventory management system can help trace the origin and nature of the breach, providing vital information to security professionals.

Security is an intricate web that involves multiple layers of protection, and both MPLS and Telecom Network Inventory Management play a critical role in fortifying that web. While MPLS provides features like data isolation and support for VPNs to safeguard data traffic, effective inventory management ensures that all network elements are tracked, configured correctly, and up-to-date, thus eliminating potential vulnerabilities.

VC4-IMS: Network Inventory Management forms a crucial backbone in combating Cyber-Threats

Your network’s security is a collective responsibility that can be substantially fortified by understanding and implementing the strengths of both MPLS and Telecom Network Inventory Management.
VC4 specializes in providing Inventory Management Solutions designed for telecom networks, utilities, smart cities, NRENs, greenfield projects and more. IMS is modular and is built with an understanding of how technologies like MPLS integrate into complex network architectures. VC4’s IMS (Inventory Management Solution) can track and manage not just physical components but also the logical layers that MPLS operates within. This makes it easier to carry out security audits, identify vulnerabilities, and ensure that your network is configured for optimal security. Given the critical importance of both MPLS and network inventory management in ensuring a secure network, leveraging a specialized solution like VC4’s IMS can make the difference between a network that is vulnerable to attacks and one that stands as a fortress of data security.