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Try Again Next Year, Hackers!

Ed Koehler Distinguished Principal Engineer Published 22 Feb 2021

Extreme’s Government-Grade Defense Prevails at AFITC 2019

As with every year, I relish going to the AFITC event down in Montgomery Alabama. It is a great opportunity to chat with our young and not so young men and women in support and defense of this great nation. It is always an inspiring thing for me.

The event was very well attended this year and there was quite a bit of interest in our booth by both the Air National Guard and the Air Force. In addition, we had quite a few security consultants and various civilian agencies and local governments. The common reaction to the security offered by our Campus Fabric was nothing short of amazement. While most of the attendees were not red team penetration testers, many came by the booth to see how the technology works and perhaps get a little insight into exactly what the bad guys attempt to do as they infiltrate a network and its resident systems. We did have a few attempts and I am happy to say that none were successful. Again, it’s great to see penetration testers scratching their head. I even had one tester that came up and I described the technology to him and gave him a demonstration. When he mentioned that he was a red teamer I offered him the console. His reply was “Why? I would only retrace your steps with the tools you have. Clearly this stuff is solid!”.

Others were a little more dubious and they sat down and tried with their own machines. No one went further than ten minutes at the console before either giving up or coming back to ask questions. Once again, no one was successful in gaining any access or information to the targets listed. These included a small video surveillance deployment and movie distribution via IP multicast as well as the switches themselves and Extreme Management Center (XMC)! Each of the services were in their own dedicated Virtual Service Networks which included both L2 and L3 VSN’s. There also were no firewalls in the topology other than an Internet gateway for the participants VSN. While we had the capability, we did not use any route policies or access control lists in the configuration either. We showed this several times to attendees who thought that we somehow had something ‘behind the scenes’ going on. They soon saw for themselves that it was Fabric Connect, pure and simple.

Both John and Rich were ‘in their element’ as they worked the booth along side me and even in some instances stole the show! Fantastic resiliency demos and some great demos of XMC as well. I also cannot forget Brenda who kept us ADD folk on task and even facilitated some of the evening events. During which we had time to have some good informal chats about the event and about us as Extreme Networks.

Apparently, the concept of not using an IP underlay was unique (as we in house already know) to the attendees at large and we sometimes needed to take time to explain how the technology could accomplish its task without the use of IP routing. Of course, certain individuals with the  Air National Guard, who has been running the technology at various bases were happy to offer accolades to the solution. Everyone, particularly the security consultants were highly intrigued and saw for themselves the value that this networking technology can do to enhance the security posture of an organization or enterprise.

To close, it was a great event and I am already looking forward to next year! I always walk away refreshed in knowing that we have great people both in our military as well as it’s supporting industries. One of the more memorable statements by one of the attendees was “Wow! No one else here at this event is putting their technology up as a target. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen anyone do this outside of Defcon. Obviously, you guys are really confident in this technology.”

I smiled and replied, “We have confidence because we know”.

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