Sensitive applications involving confidential data and information – Homeland Security, medical fields or the financial sector, for example – call for increased infrastructure security to comply with data storage and privacy standards like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Sophisticated software tools can detect, alert and respond to outside threats, improving network security. But in the never-ending race to keep your network secure, it’s easy to overlook physical security. Protecting physical connections plays an important role in securing your infrastructure – and guarding the increasing amount of sensitive data being exchanged over today’s networks.

How Keyed Connectors Work

Physically discrete fiber connection systems are emerging, adding another physical layer of security that safeguards data.

Keyed connectors and adapters ensure that only the proper matching key can be connected to a fiber port.

Secure LC keyed solutions involve keyed connectors and adapters that carry unique keying details built into their body design. This ensures that only the proper matching key can be connected to the fiber port – nothing else will physically fit into the adapter because it lacks the proper keying detail.

If someone bypasses your facility’s physical security system and gains access to the data center and your physical infrastructure, a keyed connector solution helps ensure that cables can’t be switched around. Preventing unauthorized or inadvertent changes to cabling restricts access to network connection points in settings where highly sensitive information is processed and transmitted.


This type of solution not only prevents intentional efforts to breach security, but also prevents mistakes due to human error. Keyed connectors protect against accidental moves, adds and changes (MACs) by preventing mated connections between opposing keys.

In a hospital environment, for example, two different networks may be transferring information: one network contains critical patient data protected by HIPAA while the other is segregated and accesses a different pool of information. In this situation, it’s critical that the connections between these two networks are not crossed. If a segregated network becomes accessible, a data breach could occur. Or a critical network may suffer downtime due to a switched cable that prevents users from connecting.

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Many keyed connector solutions are available to fortify your network, eliminate unauthorized access to sensitive information and protect against accidental disconnections or cross-connections. As you weigh your options, there are three considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Ensure that the keyed connectors and adapters you choose are compatible with your existing patch panelform factor. This will allow you to integrate keyed solutions within your existing infrastructure.
  2. Identify the network connections that require a keyed connector and adapter solution. Do both sides of the connection require keying, or will a hybrid solution (one side keyed, the other side non-keyed) work?
  3. Pinpoint how many keys might be required, and how techs will recognize the keyed connectors and adapters. Are they color-coded? Do they require special tools?

Belden’s Keyed Connector Solutions

To help you better manage the risks associated with accidental cross-connections, unauthorized changes and unintentional MACs, Belden offers a wide variety of LC keyed connectors and adapters using the FiberExpress ultra-high-density form factor (patch cords, pigtails, frames and cassettes), in addition to field-termination options with Brilliance connectors. Twelve color-coded keying options give you design flexibility and improve network administration.

The LC duplex format provides:

  • Better insertion loss and return loss characteristics
  • Easier cleaning capability for long-lasting optical performance
  • Design flexibility, allowing simplex connectors to be easily unassembled to reverse patch cord polarity
  • Field installation, with LC connectors that can be field-installed on any cable construction

Learn more about Belden’s FiberExpress Secure/Keyed LC System and the rest of the solutions we offer to secure your network infrastructure.

Have you implemented keyed solutions as part of your network security plan? Tell us in the comments section below!