Keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switches in the federal government grew from the fact that employees at many agencies needed to access multiple networks with varying levels of security.
A perfect example is the Department of Defense, which operates both the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet) for normal applications and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) for classified activities.
Prior to KVMs, employees needed multiple monitors, computers, keyboards and mice — one for each network. This led to sprawling workspaces and confusion, just to perform routine tasks.
KVMs allow for multiple network connections to run into the switch, so users need only one computer and one set of peripherals for multiple networks. Secure KVMs are certified to ensure that no information, either audio or data, is ever allowed to jump networks.
That has been the format used in government for many years. It works, but could stand for a little improvement. That is Belkin’s goal with its second-generation KVM switches and remote control keyboards.
Security Features Keep Data in Place
Both the Belkin keyboard and KVM comply with the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Protection Profile 4.0, designed for DOD and other government agencies.
I tested several scenarios in which I tried to bleed data across networks connected by the KVM, and nothing got through. It’s clear that Belkin kept proven security features in place when upgrading its KVM line.
The major improvements are visual, and work toward eliminating human error rather than any flaws in the switch itself. First-generation KVMs generally had LEDs that lit up to tell users what network they were on, but they had to remember that Network 1 was public, Network 2 was classified, and so on. Often, users would color-code their switches with stickers.
Belkin has added those colors to the buttons on the KVM so that, for example, the public network button is illuminated green and the classified one is red. At a glance, it’s easy to tell where a user is working.
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The backlit keyboard is also illuminated in the color of the network being used, mirroring the buttons on the main KVM. The keyboard can even be used to switch networks, which is helpful if the KVM is in an inconvenient location or locked inside a cabinet for extra security.
The Belkin Universal 2nd Gen Secure KVM and the Belkin KVM Remote Control with Integrated Keyboard is highly secure, and provides the additional benefit of good visual feedback so users always know they are working on an appropriately secured government network.
SPECIFICATIONS (KVM Switch)
Supported Streams: Audio and data
Maximum Supported Resolution: 3840x2160
Dimensions: 12.5x6.4x3.6 inches
Weight: 4.85 pounds
Type: Mechanical, quiet keys
Supported Backlight Colors: 4
Cable Length: 6 feet
READ MORE: How can agencies stay on top of evolving cybersecurity threats?