Using Secure Hardware Solutions to Keep Hackers Out of Your Network

By Keren Lipshitz

To combat increasingly complex and prevalent cyber security threats, IT managers use all the latest security software in their arsenal, limit installations of external applications, and separate the external network from the internal network. The question is, is this enough?

Firewalls, antivirus software and network isolation do deal with a significant number of serious threats. But we forget that hackers can also penetrate the network through bi-directional USB or HDMI DDC lines.

In work stations setups, this vulnerability happens when we connect PCs with different security levels to the same KM or KVM switchers. The solution is fairly straight forward. Secured KM and KVM switchers have a single-direction USB line.

This enables a secured connection and limits the USB for use only with the keyboard and mouse. With secured KM and KVM switchers, the HDMI DDC lines are blocked, preventing malicious activity between the connected PCs. The result is a highly effective approach to protecting an organization’s network and devices.

Secured KM switchers such as the Kramer K304 and K308 can safely switch between four to eight computers connected to one keyboard and mouse. Secured KVM switchers such as the K202B and K204 can safely switch between audio, video, keyboard, and mouse.

Today, with the rise in popularity of high resolution video content, there is an increase in the need for high quality secured switching and extension solutions for video, keyboard and mouse setups. Kramer has a variety of solutions (by HighSecLabs) that offer maximum computer and peripheral isolation for organizations with highly sensitive security needs such as government agencies, military, and financial institutions.

The solutions are built to comply with the highest security standards, including EAL4+ security requirements and the latest National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Protection Profile PSS V3.0 requirements for peripheral sharing switch devices.

In meeting room setups, malicious attacks on the internal network can happen via guest devices (e.g., laptop, tablet or USB memory stick) connected to a matrix switcher.

An easy and effective way to prevent such attacks is by placing an isolator [such as the HKS100] between the guest device and company equipment.

For mission critical applications and command and control, the K424F secured KVM combiner along with Kramer’s KVM range extenders (e.g., TP-590RXR and TP-590TXR) is the way to go. This solution lets the user connect several isolated HD sources to one combined display.

With flexible layout design and seamless keyboard and mouse switching, the user can safely enjoy simultaneous interaction with multiple sources. The K424F secured KVM combiner includes features such as multi-touch support, continuous up-and-down scaling, screen duplication, and extended view.

For organizations whose workers depend on the ease of use of a single keyboard and mouse to switch between multiple screens and different security levels, software solutions alone just don’t cut it. Secured switching components are imperative to make sure hackers are shut out even if security software can’t get the job done.

Editor’s Note: Though this contributed article mentions solutions from Kramer and HighSecLabs, we published it as we felt that it is important that system integrators who are involved in high security projects, take note of how easy it is for hackers to gain access to secured locations, if precaution is not taken.

*This article was originally published in Systems Integration Asia Feb – Mar 2016.