Keysight Connect #11: Challenges of Testing and Implementing TSN within a Network Secured by MACsec

2022-08-29  |  3 min read 

[Presented by Ionel Ghita]

For the past decades, Ethernet has been used as the de facto communication solution that connects the desktop to the carrier network. As technology advanced, traffic through networks has also increased exponentially, which encouraged significant improvements to this protocol. Today, we can pride ourselves with 800G Ethernet.

Virtual Reality, 5G communications, Autonomous vehicles, and Industry Automation all require reliable data transmission with precise time synchronization; thus, a deterministic network with predictable behavior.

What is TSN?

Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) evolved from our need to deliver audio/video content and synchronize communication. This collection of IEEE standards sits on top of layer 2 of the ISO/OSI stack and helps with:

  • Enhanced synchronization

  • Preemption of long frames

  • Enhancements for scheduled traffic

  • Path control and bandwidth reservation

  • Seamless redundancy

  • Stream reservation.

What is MACsec?

Media Access Control Security (MACsec) is a hop-to-hop layer 2 security protocol that protects the communication between different (trusted!) network infrastructure components. It can secure LANs from:

  • Wiretapping

  • Spoofing

  • Man-in-the-middle type of attacks

  • Replay attacks

  • DDoS attacks

  • Impersonating.

Combined with 802.1X, MACsec can control access to the network and provide source authentication, integrity, and confidentiality. However, it can’t protect against attacks of trusted components themselves.

As the internet reshapes, so does Ethernet, and along with it, MACsec. Stakes are getting ever higher when it comes to data security. So naturally, there was a need for a new MACsec solution specifically tailored for protecting mission-critical TSN traffic. Thankfully, we now have this new technology, but it has its challenges. 

Learn more about how you can test & implement TSN in a network secured by MACsec 👇