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DOCSIS Network Security | Theft of Services

Post 111 of 182

DOCSIS Security - It Matters!

My next few posts will focus on the security issues associated with DOCSIS networks including, but not limited to theft of service, uncapping modems, illegal wire-tapping by unauthorized citizens, viewing of operating internal network infrastructure and more.  These security issues are an increasing threat as the number of DOCSIS subscribers increase, economic drivers cause subscribers to reduce costs, and un-ethical web sites provide easy step-by-step solutions for how to hack your network.  While the posts will provide a reality check for everyone from headend engineers to high level executives, it also provides guidance and best practices on counter-measures for securing a DOCSIS network.  The posts will not cover every possible corner case, but is intended to bring awareness to the table on both the problems and availability of solutions.

Theft of Service

There of of course several different types of theft the cable operator needs to be aware of.  Most of us are very fimilar with cable theft.  Cable theft is the act of stealing cable TV services.  Although with digital cable it has become less common.  Digital cable can be more secure and can be harder to steal, of course this is completely dependent on the quality of the encryption security system deployed by the cable operator.

Cable theft is a crime that affects the bottom line. Increasing costs and driving up end user pricing.  Aside from cost, it also impacts the quality of cable and Internet services. This can include picture quality, speed of the broadband Internet connection, and or quality of VoIP services.  Cable theft is illegal under state laws in addition to Section 633 of the Federal Cable Act [47 U.S.C. § 553].  Oddly this might be the one everyone knows about, but maybe not the one to worry about the most.  Things get really heated when networks are not secured and illegal pornography or even threats against the government are involved!  Get ready to break out the lawyers.

Broadband Internet Theft is the act of stealing internet services.  This greatly impacts quality of service for those paying customers.  It also negatively impacts customer satisfaction.  Broadband internet theft directly impacts capacity of your plant.  A crafty hacker will fill your pipe quickly causing service to paying customers to be adversely affected.

"The problem is growing even bigger than home modems. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski called "IP hijacking" of large amounts of Web traffic one of the top three biggest cybersecurity threats facing the Internet. The others are "botnets," a computer network designed to launch cyberattacks, and domain hacking, which allows criminals to redirect traffic to fake websites.

The threats exist, he said, because there aren't mechanisms in place to protect against them." (source: USA Today)

Broadband internet theft also opens cable operators up to liability which traditional cable theft did not.  Addressing broadband internet theft needs to be a priority for all cable operators.

Mr. Volpe has over 25 years of communications industry experience. He is focused on the cable and telecom industry with deep technical and business skills. Mr. Volpe is currently the president and chief technologist of the Volpe Firm and holds an MSEE with honors.

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