This article presents an architecture for encryption automation in interconnected Network Function Virtualization (NFV) domains. Current NFV implementations are designed for deployment within trusted domains, where overlay networks with static trusted links are utilized for enabling network security. Nevertheless, within a Service Function Chain (SFC), Virtual Network Function (VNF) flows cannot be isolated and end-to-end encrypted because each VNF requires direct access to the overall SFC data-flow. This restricts both end-users and Service Providers from enabling end-to-end security, and in extended VNF isolation within the SFC data traffic. Encrypting data flows on a per-flow basis results in an extensive amount of secure tunnels, which cannot scale efficiently in manual configurations. Additionally, creating secure data plane tunnels between NFV providers requires secure exchange of key parameters, and the establishment of an east–west control plane protocol. In this article, we present an architecture focusing on these two problems, investigating how overlay networks can be created, isolated, and secured dynamically. Accordingly, we propose an architecture for automated establishment of encrypted tunnels in NFV, which introduces a novel, tiered east–west communication channel between network controllers in a multi-domain environment.
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