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3 Widespread Air Gap Myths (And the Truth)


While cybersecurity continues to trend at the top of mind for enterprise leaders, teams across the globe are bolstering their know-how to ensure protection. However, air gapping is the one area we hear the most conjecture.

Are you confused about air gaps? Or are you wondering if air gaps serve as sufficient defense against cyber attacks? There seems to be no end to the confusion surrounding this practice. The experts at Opti9 tech are exploring the different kinds of air gaps prevalent today and offering insights into the security afforded by each. Before we debunk the three common myths, we’ll start with a refresher. 

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Cyber security is of top concern among enterprise leaders. But will one of these myths be their downfall?Click to Tweet

What is Air Gapping?

Air gapping is a cybersecurity protocol that involves isolating digital assets where they are out of the reach of cybercriminals. Simply put, it means your digital assets stop communicating with the outside world through a network, much like disconnecting your computer from the internet. 

What is it not? Let's unpack some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding air gapping. 

Air Gap Myth # 1: Physical Air Gap Ensures Security

We understand the confusion on this one. A physical air gap is where your network is physically segregated and incapable of connecting wirelessly or physically with other computers or network devices. So physical air gap ensuring security, right? Well, it used to be true, but it’s now completely inaccurate. This is partially due to unknown connectivity. 

More than 45 billion devices are connected to the internet at a given moment, so it happens all to frequently that a  device, even one known to be air-gapped, is actually on the network. Whether due to human error, miscommunication, or just bad documentation, this goes unnoticed until the organization runs a security scan to discover more devices than they were aware of. Whoops!

Furthermore, while your focus is on the criminal mind of a hacker or top-secret level vulnerabilities, your cybersecurity is only as impermeable as the people that manage it. Air gapping is still incredibly vulnerable when you consider the adage “to err is human.” 

Technology is supported by data, and as a result, even an air-gapped system needs an access point to modify or delete data, known as a “sneakernet.” There is potential for it to be hacked and accessed by someone with ill intent, but it can also be inadvertently left open by an authorized user and therefore subject to unauthorized access.

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Fact or Myth: Physical Air Gap is more secure than Legacy Air Gap. Not knowing the correct answer could leave your data vulnerable:Click to Tweet

Air Gap Myth #2: Air Gap Must Be a Physical Separation

Depending on who you ask, some argue you either have a physical air gap or no air gap. It just simply isn’t accurate considering advances in modern technology. The notion that only physical air creates an air gap is a myth. 

The “logical air gap” is an alternative that segregates and protects a network-connected digital asset on a logical (as opposed to physical) basis. It acts as a divergence through a “Zero Trust Architecture”, providing data encryption and immutability in the event of an attack. 

When coupled with role-based access controls and other methods of authentication, the logical air gap has the potential to provide better risk mitigation than a physical air gap. 

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Air Gap Myth # 3: Physical Air Gaps Are More Secure Than Logical 

For starters, a physical air gap has multiple vulnerabilities in itself, but even assuming perfection, a well-designed physical air gap isn’t any more secure than a logical air gap. With the right logical air gap implementation, you can toss out this argument entirely.

Air gap through Observr, Opti9’s ransomware detection service,  employs a multi-layered strategy to security that strengthens defense against breaches better than even the most well-built physically air gapped systems. Opti9 does not use scannable protocols that make backed-up data easily detectable on a network but is instead effectively imperceptible to a hacker. 

The Observr system prohibits any user from broaching the stored data except through certified processes. Even in the event of a breach, they would find nothing but encrypted data, which is effectively useless to any cybercriminal. As technology evolves, our virtualized world confirms the logical air gap is decidedly more effective than a physical air gap, time after time. 

The technology has changed, the threats and circumstances of attacks have evolved, and the design of air gaps has evolved. Don’t leave your cyber security to chance by following outdated advice and industry myths. 

Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about Observr’s insightful, real-time ransomware detection and protection.

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