RSAC Fireside Chat: Dispersive adapts WWII radio-signal masking tool to obfuscating network traffic

By Byron V. Acohido

Spread spectrum technology helped prevent the jamming of WWII radio-controlled torpedoes and subsequently became a cornerstone of modern-day telecom infrastructure.

For its next act, could spread spectrum undergird digital resiliency? I had an evocative discussion about this at RSAC 2024 with Dispersive CEO Rajiv Plimplaskar. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

For historical context, the U.S. military scattered radio-signals and added noise to radio transmissions — to prevent the jamming of torpedo controls. Decades later, the telecom industry figured out how to spread WiFi, GPS, BlueTooth and 5G signals over a wide bandwidth and then also added pseudo-random codes — to prevent tampering.

Dispersive launched in 2021 to adapt these same concepts to protecting sensitive network transmissions in a highly dynamic environment. Here what Plimplaskar told me:

“We’re leveraging spread spectrum concepts in terms of how conventional TCP/IP and UDP type of traffic is communicated between users and sites, cloud estates and sites and amongst each other. We take the information of value and split it across multiple streams. These streams travel across randomized pathways, across whatever infrastructure is available to them, and when they get to the destination, they are reassembled and reordered for consumption.”

Encryption gets applied across multiple planes and gets dynamically rotated, based on a predefined or policy-driven interval, he noted. The streams traverse a “situationally- aware” network that can “react in real time to a degraded network situation or even a cyber event.”

A step forward for resiliency. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.


(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

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