Tag: layer 2

MACSec – Media Access Control Security

Media Access Control Security or MACSec is the Layer 2 hop to hop network traffic protection.

Just like IPsec protects network layer, and SSL protects application data, MACSec protects traffic at data link layer (Layer 2).

MACSec is standardized IEEE 802.1AE hop-by-hop encryption that enables confidentiality and integrity of data at layer 2.

It encrypts entire Ethernet packet except Source and Destination MAC addresses on any device-to-device, switch-to-switch, router-to-switch, host-to-switch directly connected wired L2 connection.

MacSec

If we compare MACSec with, for example, IPsec, MACsec provides same security but on layer 2 for each hop separately. On each hop, packets are received and decrypted enabling other features like QoS and load balancing to function. Same data is again encrypted before being sent out to next device on the way towards the destination. MACsec works on host-to-switch connection and on switch-to-switch connection enabling line-rate up to 10 GigabitEthernet fast encryption.

It uses, especially for that occasion developed and optimised Galois/Counter Mode Advanced Encryption Standard 128 (GCM-AES-128) which makes line-rate encryption/decryption possible.

There is some difference in MACSec on the connection between host and switch, and MACSec on the connection from switch to switch

MACsec uses MACsec Key Agreement (MKA) which is standardized protocol to provide the required session keys and manages the required encryption keys on a MACSec connection between hosts (PC, server, etc.) and switch.

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ISL Inter-Switch Link Protocol – Trunking or Frame Tagging protocol

Inter-Switch Link (ISL) is specifically used for tagging information of VLAN onto an Ethernet frame. This tagging information permits multiplexing of VLANs over a trunk link and this takes place through an external covering procedure or method, as a result of which the switch can easily determine/identify the membership of VLAN frame over the trunked link. When you run ISL, then it is easy to interconnect number of switches and it is also possible to maintain the information of VLAN while the traffic is passing on trunk links between switches.

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