Lotus F1 builds a secure, reliable network

Lotus F1 Team, currently lying fourth in the Formula 1 Constructor's Championship, has turned to Juniper Networks to build a mission-critical, high speed, secure network infrastructure. The requirements are demanding by any standards. There's a static HQ – in this instance, in Oxfordshire, UK. There are remote, nomadic and temporary 'branch offices' as the team moves between the different race meetings around the world. And then there's the need for high speed, reliable comms between the engineers, the car and the driver during each race.

“Grand prix racing is literally a fast-moving enterprise, with a highly-competitive, success-driven culture," explains Sean Dolan, senior vice president, EMEA, at Juniper Networks. "Trackside conditions are particularly challenging, with heat, dust, vibration and the need to build and tear down a reliable, secure network infrastructure quickly in a new location every couple of weeks or so."

Network reliability and performance is clearly essential; but so is security. "Juniper’s security solutions help Lotus F1 Team to ensure fast, reliable throughput while maintaining the highest levels of data privacy and protection," said Juniper in a statement yesterday.

Infosecurity turned to Graeme Hackland, CIO at Lotus F1 Team, to discover the security threats he faces. "Data loss remains my major concern," he says, "either by the trusted insider who moves between Teams [Hackland was himself at Renault F1 Team before joining Lotus] or inadvertent leaking of information by a well-intentioned insider."

But he's also concerned about hacktivism. "There is also a risk from some hactivist groups, especially if F1 manages to get itself involved in politics. Bahrain is the clearest example of this over the past couple of years."

One area that possibly causes less concern than for most companies is a sniffer on the comms link, especially since the 'branch offices' are vacant for most of the year. "I think F1 is as vulnerable as any other global business to this kind of vulnerability," but, "I do think the usefulness of our data is limited outside of F1, so the risk is not as high as some industries face."

He does not think there is much threat from gaming oriented hackers. If attackers could break the link between the engineers and the driver during a race, it might appear that they could influence the outcome of the race. His response was a little surprising. "I think F1 suffers less than other sports from gambling manipulation as the teams are allowed team orders, effectively they can use one driver to disadvantage the rest of the field to help their other driver." In other words, the teams are already, but legally, manipulating the race for their own ends.

Nor does he think there is a great threat from IP theft between the different teams. Given the recent cases of espionage within F1, "there is a very strong culture of avoiding spying on each other. The penalties are draconian!"

But there remains one threat that faces everyone these days – remote working. "Our engineers have to be able to work when they are away from the factory or track networks. We encrypt the laptops using Symantec Endpoint Encryption; we use Symantec VIP and Juniper SSL VPN technology to provide a secure connection."

And with that, he returned to preparing for this weekend's British Grand Prix.

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