CAMO - Alarm

New cable-monitoring system based on changes in polarization

Reliable detection of malicious attempts to eavesdrop data transmission in fiber-optic networks

Micropol is developing a cable-monitoring system that will reliably detect attempts to eavesdrop data transmission in fiber-optic networks. Registering even minute changes in the light beam’s polarization, the new technology has proven to vastly outperform conventional methods based on changes in signal attenuation.

Fiber-optic networks carry large volumes of traffic and play a vital role in today’s information society. A potential sabotage leading to the disruption of transmitted data may seriously affect business or societal functions.

It is a well-known fact that single or multi-mode fibers can be eavesdropped. And many fiber networks have indeed been eavesdropped over the years. While it may be difficult to prevent an attempt at eavesdropping, it is quite possible to detect the attempt and thus prevent eavesdropping.

Conventional cable-monitoring systems rely on changes in signal attenuation in order to detect eavesdropping attempts. Unfortunately, these systems require extreme bending, or even severing, of the fiber to effectively detect tampering and thus safely protect against eavesdropping.

A more reliable method is to detect changes in the polarization of the light beam transmitting data inside the fiber. These changes will occur if the fiber is even moderately bent and are registered by the receiver. Micropol is currently developing the next generation cable-monitoring system based on the method to ensure the future security and integrity of fiber-network infrastructure.

Our technology requires less bending of the fiber for a signal to be registered by the receiver. It is also more sensitive to vibration, adding further to its detection efficiency. To avoid oversensitivity and false alarms, the vibration sensitivity can be adjusted to the actual conditions on site, e.g. compensating for local disturbances such as rock drilling etc.

Traditionally, cable-monitoring systems have been considered a necessity mainly for defense organizations. There are, however, many other industries that would benefit from the increased information security offered by these solutions – including banking, nuclear, government, etc.

Many organizations already have strict security policies and spend extensive resources on enhancing security, e.g. EMF-proofing conference rooms. But no link is stronger than its weakest link – and their optic fiber may have already been eavesdropped before even entering their premises – rendering interior safety measures useless.

Micropol has developed proof of concept of its polarization-based cable-monitoring system. In March 2023, we demonstrated the project at the OFC Conference in San Diego. Since then, R&D has continued and the cable-monitoring system is today a part of our goal to develop fiber optic solutions for the demands of tomorrow.

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