Word of the Day: air gapping

Word of the Day

Daily updates on the latest technology terms |September 8, 2017

air gapping

Air gapping is a security measure that involves isolating a computer or network and preventing it from establishing an external connection. For example, an air gapped computer is one that is physically segregated and incapable of connecting wirelessly or physically with other computers or network devices.

Air-gapped networks are used to protect many types of critical systems, including those that support the stock market, the military, the government and industrial power industries. The U.S. National Security Agency TEMPEST project provides recommendations for using air gapping as a security measure. To prevent unauthorized data extrusion through electromagnetic or electronic exploits, there is often a specified amount of space between the air gapped system and outside walls and between its wires and the wires for other technical equipment. For a system with extremely sensitive data, a Faraday cage can be used to prevent electromagnetic radiation (EMR) escaping from the air-gapped equipment.

Although these measures seem extreme, van Eck phreaking can be used to intercept data such as key strokes or screen images from demodulated EMR waves, using special equipment from some distance away. Other proof-of-concept (POC) attacks for air gapped systems have shown that electromagnetic emanations from infected sound cards on isolated computers can be exploited and continuous wave irradiation can be used to reflect and gather information from isolated screens, keyboards and other computer components.
Perhaps the most important way to protect a computing device or network from an air gap attack is through end user security awareness training. The infamous Stuxnet worm, which was designed to attack air gapped industrial control systems, is thought to have been introduced by infected thumb drives found by employees or obtained as free giveaways.

Editor's note: The software-defined perimeter (SDP) framework is sometimes referred to as a method of virtual air gapping. SDP requires authentication of all external endpoints attempting to access internal infrastructure and ensures that only authenticated systems can see internal IP addresses.

Quote of the Day

"One of the most effective defenses against large scale cyberattacks on critical infrastructure is to establish separate, air-gapped networks that provide a physical line of defense." - Ken Spinner


Trending Terms

Faraday cage
van Eck phreaking
security awareness training

acoustical infection


Learning Center

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Security researchers tracked the Dragonfly 2.0 hacker group as it used social engineering attacks in order to set up persistent infections on ICS networks.

Using a software-defined perimeter to create an air-gapped network
Learn how the Cloud Security Alliance's software-defined perimeter can help enterprises build a dynamic, air-gapped network using the cloud.

Best practices for implementing an enterprise network air gap system
Brad Casey discusses how to implement the network air gap system security concept in order to improve protection against advanced attacks in the enterprise.

Protection against ransomware requires strong backup
One of the keys in protection against ransomware is implementing a solid data protection strategy that includes having data spread across different media.

Separate but equal: Mitigating the risk of Web-borne malware infections
Web-borne malware infections are a key threat to systems, but systems have to be running to be harmed. Separation is an effective method to reduce the potential damage of a malware attack.

Quiz Yourself

This is a type of malware designed to obtain administrator-level access to the victim's system.
a. rootkit
b. Trojan horse




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For feedback about any of our definitions or to suggest a new definition, please contact me at: mrouse@techtarget.com


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