Originally published on the Extreme blog, January 15, 2019, by Camille Campbell

The Jetsons and The Flintstones just might be the two best cartoons of the 80’s. Not surprisingly both shows were produced by the powerhouse team Hanna-Barbera; however, while the Jetsons represented the “Space Age,” the Flintstones represented the “Stone Age.”

You can make the argument that modern day networking offers the same parallels. The technology running on our networks represents the Jetsons. Modern-day smartphones, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, intelligent process automation and robotics are all things that couldn’t have been imagined a decade ago – at least outside of science fiction. With technology continuing to advance year to year at such a rapid pace, we’ll soon be using our smart phones for teleportation.

But while we can all agree we have Jetsons technology running over our networks, the networks themselves are from the Flintstones era. Digging into the protocols that are common in networks today, what people may not really realize is that OSPFv2 was standardized 26 years ago – in 1991 (OSPFv1 in 1989). The Stone Ages, right?  BGPv4 was standardized in 1995 and the first versions of multicast go back to 1986. These protocols haven’t evolved much, but they are now asked to support an environment that has changed dramatically; being far more dynamic and mobile with greater real-time demands and where cyber-attacks only continue to increase in frequency and sophistication.

Digging into security, the argument can be made that it is these very routing protocols that are contributing to the catastrophic damage inflicted by modern-day breaches.  Let’s use the commonly referenced example of the Las Vegas casino that was breached through its Internet connected fish tank. The hacker, having entered the network, was sitting on a VLAN and therefore was associated with an IP address. With that IP address, he is now part of a flat routing table where the entire network could be discovered with minimal effort. In this case, the hacker gained access to the casino’s high rollers personal information and the damage was done.

So, what do we do? Tunnels, abstractions and management platforms, can’t mask the fact that that our underlying protocols are showing their age. The best approach is to bring the protocols that we use to design our networks up to date.  Address the root cause of the issue.