Using Dual-NIC LAN Redundancy for NFPA 72 Cybersecurity Network Vulnerabilities Compliance

By Ziad Alezabi

February 9, 2024

Dual-NIC (Network Interface Card) devices are essential for high-availability network systems. These devices have two separate redundant network interface cards embedded in them.

Dual-NIC means your computer or server has two separate network interfaces. Each one can connect with either the same LAN or different LANs (Local Area Network). This dual configuration gives you redundancy that minimizes downtime in the event of a system, hardware, or network malfunction. This is possible because the backup NIC would have a failover mechanism that allows it to take over when the primary NIC fails.

This setup is important in mission-critical environments where uninterrupted network access is essential.

Network Vulnerabilities and Risks of Single Points of Failure

Network vulnerabilities risk your security and the stability of your systems. Understanding these vulnerabilities is crucial for safeguarding against potential threats. The main vulnerability being addressed in this article is single points of failure.

These are elements within a network that if compromised or disrupted, can have a negative butterfly effect on the entire system. Let's take a look at the consequences of single points of failure and how you can avoid them.

Network downtime or instability can have plenty of consequences. A single point of failure can hinder your operations and even lead to disastrous failures in mission-critical environments such as:

  • Hospitals: If the network connection fails due to a cyber-attack or hardware malfunction, critical patient information may become inaccessible, and medical equipment may stop working.
  • Banks: A network failure could lead to interrupted electronic transactions and potential financial losses.
  • Military operations: Disruptive communication due to a single point of failure can greatly hinder decision-making processes.
  • First Response Units (think police stations, fire departments, ambulance dispatch, etc.): Network failure can delay response times and potentially put people's lives at risk.
  • Industrial facilities: A network failure can disrupt automated processes, resulting in production delays, equipment damage, and potential safety hazards for workers.

NFPA 72 Requirements For Cybersecurity

NFPA 72 is a standard that provides guidelines for fire alarm systems, emergency communication systems, and other safety measures.

While this code primarily focuses on fire safety, it also contains guides related to establishing your network's cybersecurity.

NFPA 72 has addressed network vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure including the use of dual-NIC redundancy in chapters 11 and 12.

The code contains requirements for mitigating risks related to single points of failure and ensuring continuous network availability in emergencies.

Implementing Dual-NIC Redundancy According to NFPA 72 Requirements

To follow NFPA 72 guidelines that are outlined in chapters 11 and 12, organizations need to use cybersecurity measures that include dual-NIC redundancy.

The requirements emphasize the importance of having a network infrastructure that can maintain operations without interruption. Here are some of the key requirements as per NFPA 72:

  • Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough assessment of all network components to identify and address potential single points of failure.
  • Redundant Pathways: Ensure that there are redundant communication pathways for critical signals to prevent a total system shutdown during a single point of failure.
  • Regular Testing: Establish a schedule for regular testing of failover mechanisms in dual-NIC systems to ensure rapid recovery during a network interruption.
  • Reporting and Alerting: Implement a system for immediate alerts in the event of a NIC failure, enabling swift response and remediation efforts before a compromise escalates.

A good fire alarm monitoring system manufacturer will equip you with listed equipment that is proven to adhere to NFPA 72 requirements.

Benefits of Dual NICs For Possible Network Vulnerabilities

Having dual-NIC PCBs in your network devices will reduce the risks created by single points of failure. This redundancy allows for seamless failover in the event of a failure, ensuring uninterrupted network access.

Failover is when a secondary device or process takes over in the event of the primary device or process failing to function properly. A few examples of this would be:

  • Load Balancing: When one NIC is overloaded, the other NIC takes over the traffic.
  • Maintenance Operations: Maintenance & upgrades on one network card can occur without disrupting the connectivity because the other network interface card will handle network traffic.
  • Physical Link Failures: If one physical network connection fails due to a cable or switch issue, the other connection keeps the network activities running.
  • Security: In case of a network intrusion on one LAN interface, the other can serve as an isolated secure path for sensitive communication.
  • Geographic Redundancy: Each NIC can connect to a different network segment or ISP, providing diversity for network paths and reducing geographically centered risks.

Dual-NIC PCBs are cost-effective compared to other redundancy solutions such as using multiple routers or switches. They also require less space and power, making them a practical choice for smaller networks and just as useful for bigger operations.

Redundancy will also provide an infrastructure that can withstand unexpected disruptions, guaranteeing continuous operations and minimizing the chances of service interruptions.

Therefore, emphasizing the importance of implementing redundant LANs is vital for organizations when optimizing their network performance and ensuring uninterrupted operations.

Enhancing Network Reliability with Redundant LAN

Primary and secondary LANs are important for redundancy and failover capabilities in network setups. A primary LAN serves as the main network connection, while a secondary LAN acts as a backup in case the primary LAN fails. This setup ensures uninterrupted network connectivity and minimizes downtime in the following ways:

  • Immediate Network Switch: Automatically transfers network operations to the secondary LAN. This helps a lot in reducing downtime.
  • Multiple Routing Options In Case Of Failure: This ensures that if one LAN is compromised due to physical damage or network intrusion, the secondary can route traffic via an alternate path.
  • Load Distribution: Shares the traffic load between two LANs to avoid overburdening a single network, which can enhance performance and reduce bottlenecks.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Allows for ongoing evaluation of both LANs to quickly detect and address any issues before they cause network failures.
  • Scalability: You need to prime your network for future expansions by providing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate additional traffic without compromising redundancy.

Redundant LAN setups effectively address the need for network resilience and reliability. By having multiple LAN connections, if one connection fails, the network traffic seamlessly switches to the backup connection. This redundancy enhances network availability and ensures continuous operation even in the event of a failure.

Headend units equipped with dual-NIC PCBs offer a range of features and benefits for facilitating redundant LAN configurations. These units have two network interface cards (NICs), allowing for simultaneous connections to both primary and secondary LANs.

This dual-NIC setup provides built-in redundancy, enhancing network reliability and resilience. It also simplifies the configuration and management of redundant LANs, making it easier to maintain a robust and fail-safe network infrastructure.

Digitize Is The Reliable Fire Alarm Monitoring Provider You're Looking For

Digitize designs and implement redundant Local Area Networks (LANs) for headend units that ensure seamless connectivity, high availability, and fault tolerance.

Digitize recently installed a System 3505 Prism LX (a fire alarm monitoring head-end unit) with dual-NIC PCB included. This was for a project on an Ivy League college campus that fixed their separated redundant networks by combining them into one dual-redundant network.

System 3505 Prism LX

Digitize is an industry-proven fire alarm monitoring system manufacturer that continues to manufacture and offer services for major cities, military bases, Ivy League universities, etc. We are adamant about supplying your infrastructure or fire alarm monitoring lineup with solutions that future-proof your business.

When you choose Digitize, you'll get:

  1. Industry-competitive discounts for distributors (25%)
  2. 24/7 emergency expert tech support
  3. In-depth documentation
  4. Form factor customizability
  5. Infrastructure adaptability
  6. Legacy mediation

We also guarantee that your network system will be compliant with all NFPA guidelines. This is a result of Digitize manufacturing UL/ETL listed equipment.

If you have any questions that were not answered in this article, or if you feel like you have a similar project that may or may not fit our applications, please reach out and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

Call me today to safeguard your network operations and open up your network to future scale-ups and integrations.

Call 1-800-523-7232. You can also email us at

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi is a seasoned marketing writer renowned for his expertise in crafting compelling content and strategic marketing communications. With a rich background in the industry, Ziad has contributed significantly to various projects, delivering engaging blog articles, impactful videos, and...Read More