Enhancing Network Security with Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

Enhancing Network Security with Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

When you need to send a message to someone, you want it to go directly to them. You’d usually rather avoid it passing through a dozen people’s hands before the recipient ever sees it.

It’s the same when you send data across a network. Standard internet protocol (IP) tends to bounce data packets across multiple destinations prior to information reaching its destination. A safer, more direct alternative to these network protocols is multi-protocol label switching or MPLS. MPLS creates a dedicated pathway for data to take a far more straightforward route across a network. With the right team members in place, robust MPLS practices can help bolster your organization’s cybersecurity posture.

A Brief Introduction to MPLS Technology

MPLS uses a technique called label switching. Labels help create designated paths data must follow, regardless of pre-existing network protocols. Data packets are assigned forwarding equivalence classes (FEC). This is a label that tells the network how to forward the data and where to. Multiple data packets may have identical labels which just means they can take the same route through the network.

Routers hold data on where to send particular labels and which labels have the highest priority.

Advantages of MPLS for Network Security

The primary advantage of MPLS is that the “multi-protocol” aspect of the term means it works with just about any existing infrastructure. MPLS is a technique rather than a product, meaning data can flow between very different systems easily, regardless of what other network protocols are in place.

Better Traffic Engineering and Management

As well as defining exactly where data goes, MPLS can determine how much data flows through a network connection. Regulating data packets in this way reduces bottlenecks and helps with load balancing, increasing the holistic stability of a network.

Isolating Network Areas

Because MPLS designates where data packets go, it’s possible to create highly secure, isolated networks. Effective network management allows these sub-networks to be scaled up or down as needed.

Improved Quality of Service (QoS)

QoS refers to the quality of the network connection or data transfer. Organizations often have particular QoS standards they have to meet, and network administrators take on the responsibility of implementing strategies to achieve this. MPLS helps by reducing latency, helping keep strong connections for longer, and providing backups to handle connection failures.

Integrating MPLS with Your Existing Network Protocols

MPLS integration and operation relies on onboarding experienced network administrators or specialists that understand concepts such as:

  • Label distribution protocol (LDP)
  • Label switch routers (LSR)
  • Label imposition
  • Label disposition

Understanding which parts of the protocol do what tasks and where on the network helps ensure new protocols match and enhance existing QoS standards and improve network security. Your network engineer should be able to quickly assess and communicate what changes are needed and how the transformation will impact current network usability.

MPLS Use Cases for Enhanced Network Security

The benefits of MPLS are clear, but what do organizations actually use it for?


One way MPLS enhances network security is by powering VPNs. A VPN or virtual private network is a pathway that allows users from a particular organization to access company assets or an intranet. There is no way for external internet users to access these web-based resources without access to the VPN.

Video Conferencing and VoIP

The ability to maintain clear, strong connections makes MPLS ideal for continuous, web-based communication. MPLS is frequently used for creating voice-over-IP (VoIP) and video calls for improved quality and better communication. Secure, clear contact reduces the risk of AI-powered deep fakes and people joining conversations who shouldn’t be.

Takeaway — Hire MPLS Specialists for Improved Cybersecurity Strategies

Cybersecurity specialists, network analysts, and IT professionals should all have some experience with MPLS and a working knowledge of the above benefits and use cases. If you need to hire someone to implement MPLS, consider advertising for the ability to:

  • Assess existing networks and infrastructure
  • Quickly understand and explain what changes are required
  • Source cost-effective hardware and software for MPLS implementation
  • Configure LSPs and create appropriate routing policies
  • Continuously test and monitor systems for vulnerabilities

Find out how MRINetwork helps business leaders and recruitment specialists find the right talent for their teams here. Our talent advisors take a consultative approach to helping you source IT and cybersecurity specialists with the right expertise to elevate your security strategy.