Home | | Cryptography and Network Security | Combining Security Associations

Chapter: Cryptography and Network Security Principles and Practice : Network and Internet Security : IP Security

Combining Security Associations

· Authentication Plus Confidentiality · Basic Combinations of Security Associations


An individual SA can implement either the AH or ESP protocol but not both. Sometimes a particular traffic flow will call for the services provided by both AH and ESP. Further, a particular traffic flow may require IPsec services between hosts and, for that same flow, separate services between security gateways, such as fire- walls. In all of these cases, multiple SAs must be employed for the same traffic flow to achieve the desired IPsec services. The term security association bundle refers to a sequence of SAs through which traffic must be processed to provide a desired set of IPsec services. The SAs in a bundle may terminate at different endpoints or at the same endpoints.

Security associations may be combined into bundles in two  ways:

                           Transport adjacency: Refers to applying more than one security protocol to the same IP packet without invoking tunneling. This approach to combining AH and ESP allows for only one level of combination; further nesting yields no added benefit since the processing is performed at one IPsec instance: the (ultimate) destination.

                           Iterated tunneling: Refers to the application of multiple layers of security protocols effected through IP tunneling. This approach allows for multiple levels of nesting, since each tunnel can originate or terminate at a different IPsec site along the path.

The two approaches can be combined, for example, by having a transport SA between hosts travel part of the way through a tunnel SA between security gateways. One interesting issue that arises when considering SA bundles is the order in which authentication and encryption may be applied between a given pair of endpoints and the ways of doing so. We examine that issue next. Then we look at combinations of SAs that involve at least one tunnel.

Authentication Plus Confidentiality

Encryption and authentication can be combined in order to transmit an IP packet that has both confidentiality and authentication between hosts. We look at several approaches.

ESP WITH AUTHENTICATION OPTION This approach is illustrated in Figure 19.8. In this approach, the user first applies ESP to the data to be protected and then appends the authentication data field. There are actually two subcases:

                           Transport mode ESP: Authentication and encryption apply to the IP payload delivered to the host, but the IP header is not protected.

                           Tunnel mode ESP: Authentication applies to the entire IP packet delivered to the outer IP destination address (e.g., a firewall), and authentication is performed at that destination. The entire inner IP packet is protected by the privacy mechanism for delivery to the inner IP destination.

For both cases, authentication applies to the ciphertext rather than the plaintext.

TRANSPORT ADJACENCY Another way to apply authentication after encryption is to use two bundled transport SAs, with the inner being an ESP SA and the outer being an AH SA. In this case, ESP is used without its authentication option. Because the inner SA is a transport SA, encryption is applied to the IP payload. The resulting packet consists of an IP header (and possibly IPv6 header extensions) followed by an ESP. AH is then applied in transport mode, so that authentication covers the ESP plus the original IP header (and extensions) except for mutable fields. The advantage of this approach over simply using a single ESP SA with the ESP authentication option is that the authentication covers more fields, including the source and destination IP addresses. The disadvantage is the overhead of two SAs versus one SA.

TRANSPORT-TUNNEL BUNDLE The use of authentication prior to encryption might be preferable for several reasons. First, because the authentication data are protected by encryption, it is impossible for anyone to intercept the message and alter the authentication data without detection. Second, it may be desirable to store the authentication information with the message at the destination for later reference. It is more convenient to do this if the authentication information applies to the unencrypted message; otherwise the message would have to be reencrypted to verify the authentication information.

One approach to applying authentication before encryption between two hosts is to use a bundle consisting of an inner AH transport SA and an outer ESP tunnel SA. In this case, authentication is applied to the IP payload plus the IP header (and extensions) except for mutable fields. The resulting IP packet is then processed in tunnel mode by ESP; the result is that the entire, authenticated inner packet is encrypted and a new outer IP header (and extensions) is added.


Basic Combinations of Security Associations

The IPsec Architecture document lists four examples of combinations of SAs that must be supported by compliant IPsec hosts (e.g., workstation, server) or security gateways (e.g. firewall, router). These are illustrated in Figure 19.10. The lower part

of each case in the figure represents the physical connectivity of the elements; the upper part represents logical connectivity via one or more nested SAs. Each SA can be either AH or ESP. For host-to-host SAs, the mode may be either transport or tunnel; otherwise it must be tunnel mode.

Case 1. All security is provided between end systems that implement IPsec. For any two end systems to communicate via an SA, they must share the appropri- ate secret keys. Among the possible combinations are

a.                                       AH in transport mode

b.                                       ESP in transport mode

c.                                        ESP followed by AH in transport mode (an ESP SA inside an AH SA)

d.                                       Any one of a, b, or c inside an AH or ESP in tunnel mode

We have already discussed how these various combinations can be used to support authentication, encryption, authentication before encryption, and authenti- cation after encryption.

Case 2. Security is provided only between gateways (routers, firewalls, etc.) and no hosts implement IPsec. This case illustrates simple virtual private network support. The security architecture document specifies that only a single tunnel SA is needed for this case. The tunnel could support AH, ESP, or ESP with the authenti- cation option. Nested tunnels are not required, because the IPsec services apply to the entire inner packet.

Case 3. This builds on case 2 by adding end-to-end security. The same combi- nations discussed for cases 1 and 2 are allowed here. The gateway-to-gateway tunnel provides either authentication, confidentiality, or both for all traffic between end systems. When the gateway-to-gateway tunnel is ESP, it also provides a limited form of traffic confidentiality. Individual hosts can implement any additional IPsec ser- vices required for given applications or given users by means of end-to-end   SAs.

Case 4. This provides support for a remote host that uses the Internet to reach an organization’s firewall and then to gain access to some server or workstation behind the firewall. Only tunnel mode is required between the remote host and the firewall.As in case 1, one or two SAs may be used between the remote host and the local host.

Study Material, Lecturing Notes, Assignment, Reference, Wiki description explanation, brief detail
Cryptography and Network Security Principles and Practice : Network and Internet Security : IP Security : Combining Security Associations |

Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, DMCA Policy and Compliant

Copyright © 2018-2023 BrainKart.com; All Rights Reserved. Developed by Therithal info, Chennai.