Air Gap

What is an Air Gap?

“Air-gap” refers to the separation of systems from other computers and networks. This separation ensures that the risk of unauthorised access, data theft and unwanted changes is minimised.

Originally, air gap meant that a computer or network was surrounded by ‘air’ and therefore could not have a wired connection, isolating them from other networks and computers.

Here’s a good explanation about the topic: What is an Air Gap?

Types of Air Gaps

Physical Air Gap

A physical air gap is when a system is completely isolated from other networks. Communication can then only take place via data media. For example, a research lab wants to protect highly sensitive patient data. In this case, the research lab can completely separate the system on which the data resides from the corporate network and set up physical air gapped.

Logical Air Gap

Logical Air Gap relies on security protocols, firewalls and other security measures. Data is protected through access controls, encryption and intrusion detection systems. These measures help to monitor and control the flow of data and secure data.

Areas of application for air gapping

Typical areas of application are

  • Critical infrastructure
  • IT systems in nuclear power plants
  • IT systems in air traffic control
  • IT systems in vehicles
  • Medical facilities
  • Military applications
  • Protection of corporate data for example source code

Challenges with Air Gaps

Air Gaps are considered an effective method for securing data. However, there are also challenges:

  • Air gaps are prone to human error. Media used to transfer data can be lost or stolen.
  • Although systems are physically separated, there is still a risk. For example, if attackers still gain access.
  • Managing air-gap systems requires resources and expertise. Such a system must be carefully planned and regularly maintained.