Siemon's Cat 7 TERA copper system passes TEMPEST security testing

May 24, 2006 -- An independent, NSA-certified testing facility has confirmed that the company's TERA network cabling system is suitable for use in high security, TEMPEST-rated environments.

Dayton T. Brown, Inc., a National Security Agency (NSA)-certified testing facility, recently confirmed that Siemon's Category 7/class F TERA "end-to-end" network cabling system is suitable for use in high security classified networks such as those that follow TEMPEST/EMSEC guidelines. In a press release, Siemon contends that TERA is "the first and only" copper cabling system to have met these stringent requirements.

TEMPEST/EMSEC is a U.S. government code word defining the counter-intelligence standards developed to protect secure data transmissions from electronic espionage. Although actual requirements and test parameters are classified, it is widely known that TEMPEST/EMSEC specifications set extremely strict limits on signal radiation from data networks.

"TEMPEST/EMSEC provide practically impenetrable security standards," observes Carrie Higbie, Siemon's global network applications market manager. "The U.S. government developed it to ensure that classified data in organizations like Homeland Security and the military were absolutely secure. Although only select government agencies have access to the full TEMPEST requirements, private enterprises with high data security needs are looking to TEMPEST-style installations. That is what makes TERA important - it gives the private sector a network cabling option deemed suitable for the highest levels of government security."

While individually approved equipment exists, the U.S. TEMPEST certification applies to a complete system; in a network environment, this covers all components, including the cabling plant, notes Siemon. Emission control standards for cabling, combined with data encryption and other security systems, allow for TEMPEST-level security.

According to the company, in order to meet stringent TEMPEST requirements, copper cabling previously required very specific and labor-intensive installation practices, such as placing all cables individually in ferrous conduit as well as physically separating the cabling into secure and non-secure areas. Dayton T. Brown, Inc.'s tests, however, confirm that the Siemon TERA channels do not require conduit as a security measure and can be installed with limited separation between secure and non-secure channels.

The TERA system utilizes fully-shielded S/FTP cable and fully shielded connectivity. In S/FTP cable, each pair is individually shielded and an overall braid shield surrounds all conductors. This shielding eliminates any potential security gap caused by signal radiation or emission. Additional shielding is integrated into the outlets and plugs, eliminating all potential emissions from the overall cabling system.

In addition to its high-security capabilities, Siemon contends that TERA is the highest performing twisted-pair copper cabling system available, offering performance up to and beyond 10 Gbit/sec. This increased ability to support future application speeds translates into a longer functional lifecycle and thereby, better total cost of ownership, says the company.

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