Optical layer security in fiber-optic networks

Mable P. Fok, Zhexing Wang, Yanhua Deng, Paul R. Prucnal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


The physical layer of an optical network is vulnerable to a variety of attacks, including jamming, physical infrastructure attacks, eavesdropping, and interception. As the demand for network capacity grows dramatically, the issue of securing the physical layer of optical network cannot be overlooked. In this survey paper, we discuss the security threats in an optical network as well as present several existing optical techniques to improve the security. In the first part of this paper, we discuss various types of security threats that could appear in the optical layer of an optical network, including jamming, physical infrastructure attacks, eavesdropping, and interception. Intensive research has focused on improving optical network security, in the above specific areas. Real-time processing of the optical signal is essential in order to integrate security functionality at the physical layer while not undermining the true value of optical communications, which is its speed. Optical layer security benefits from the unique properties of optical processinginstantaneous response, broadband operation, electromagnetic immunity, compactness, and low latency. In the second part of this paper, various defenses against the security threats outlined in this paper are discussed, including optical encryption, optical code-division multiple access (CDMA) confidentiality, self-healing survivable optical rings, anti-jamming, and optical steganography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5749282
Pages (from-to)725-736
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
Issue number3 PART 1
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Fiber-optics network
  • optical layer security
  • optical signal processing
  • physical layer security


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