Home | | Cryptography and Network Security | IP Security Overview

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

IP Security Overview

· Applications of IPsec Benefits of IPsec Routing Applications IPsec Documents IPsec Services · Transport and Tunnel Modes


In 1994, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) issued a report titled “Security in the Internet Architecture” (RFC 1636). The report identified key areas for security  mechanisms.  Among  these  were  the  need  to  secure  the network infrastructure from unauthorized monitoring and control of network traffic and the need to secure end-user-to-end-user traffic using authentication and encryption mechanisms.

To provide security, the IAB included authentication and encryption as necessary security features in the next-generation IP, which has been issued as IPv6. Fortunately, these security capabilities were designed to be usable both with the current IPv4 and the future IPv6. This means that vendors can begin offering these features now, and many vendors now do have some IPsec capabil- ity in their products. The IPsec specification now exists as a set of Internet standards.


Applications of IPsec

IPsec provides the capability to secure communications across a LAN, across private and public WANs, and across the Internet. Examples of its use include:

                 Secure branch office connectivity over the Internet: A company can build a secure virtual private network over the Internet or over a public WAN. This enables a business to rely heavily on the Internet and reduce its need for private networks, saving costs and network management overhead.

                 Secure remote access over the Internet: An end user whose system is equipped with IP security protocols can make a local call to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and gain secure access to a company network. This reduces the cost of toll charges for traveling employees and telecommuters.

                 Establishing extranet and intranet connectivity with partners: IPsec can be used to secure communication with other organizations, ensuring authentica- tion and confidentiality and providing a key exchange   mechanism.

                 Enhancing electronic commerce security: Even though some Web and electronic commerce applications have built-in security protocols, the use of IPsec enhances that security. IPsec guarantees that all traffic designated by the network adminis- trator is both encrypted and authenticated, adding an additional layer of security to whatever is provided at the application layer.


The principal feature of IPsec that enables it to support these varied applica- tions is that it can encrypt and/or authenticate all traffic at the IP level. Thus, all dis- tributed applications (including remote logon, client/server, e-mail, file transfer, Web access, and so on) can be secured.

Figure 19.1 is a typical scenario of IPsec usage. An organization maintains LANs at dispersed locations. Nonsecure IP traffic is conducted on each LAN. For traffic offsite, through some sort of private or public WAN, IPsec protocols are used. These protocols operate in networking devices, such as a router or firewall, that con- nect each LAN to the outside world. The IPsec networking device will typically encrypt and compress all traffic going into the WAN and decrypt and decompress traffic coming from the WAN; these operations are transparent to workstations and servers on the LAN. Secure transmission is also possible with individual users who dial into the WAN. Such user workstations must implement the IPsec protocols to provide security.

Benefits of IPsec

Some of the benefits of IPsec:


                 When IPsec is implemented in a firewall or router, it provides strong security that can be applied to all traffic crossing the perimeter. Traffic within a company or workgroup does not incur the overhead of security-related processing.

                 IPsec in a firewall is resistant to bypass if all traffic from the outside must use IP and the firewall is the only means of entrance from the Internet into the organization.

                 IPsec is below the transport layer (TCP, UDP) and so is transparent to applications. There is no need to change software on a user or server system when IPsec is implemented in the firewall or router. Even if IPsec is implemented in end systems, upper-layer software, including applications, is not affected.

                 IPsec can be transparent to end users. There is no need to train users on security mechanisms, issue keying material on a per-user basis, or revoke keying material when users leave the organization.

                 IPsec can provide security for individual users if needed. This is useful for offsite workers and for setting up a secure virtual subnetwork within an organization for sensitive applications.


Routing Applications

In addition to supporting end users and protecting premises systems and networks, IPsec can play a vital role in the routing architecture required for internetworking. [HUIT98] lists the following examples of the use of IPsec. IPsec can assure that


                 A router advertisement (a new router advertises its presence) comes from an authorized router.

                 A neighbor advertisement (a router seeks to establish or maintain a neighbor relationship with a router in another routing domain) comes from an autho- rized router.

                 A redirect message comes from the router to which the initial IP packet was sent.

                 A routing update is not forged.


Without such security measures, an opponent can disrupt communications or divert some traffic. Routing protocols such as Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) should be run on top of security associations between routers that are defined by IPsec.


IPsec  Documents

IPsec encompasses three functional areas: authentication, confidentiality, and key management. The totality of the IPsec specification is scattered across dozens of RFCs and draft IETF documents, making this the most complex and difficult to grasp of all IETF specifications. The best way to grasp the scope of IPsec is to consult the latest version of the IPsec document roadmap, which as of this writing is [FRAN09]. The documents can be categorized into the following groups.

                           Architecture: Covers the general concepts, security requirements, definitions, and mechanisms defining IPsec technology. The current specification is RFC 4301, Security Architecture for the Internet Protocol.

                           Authentication Header (AH): AH is an extension header to provide message authentication. The current specification is RFC 4302, IP Authentication Header. Because message authentication is provided by ESP, the use of AH is deprecated. It is included in IPsecv3 for backward compatibility but should not be used in new applications. We do not discuss AH in this chapter.

                           Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP): ESP consists of an encapsulating header and trailer used to provide encryption or combined encryption/authentication. The current specification is RFC 4303, IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP).

                           Internet Key Exchange (IKE): This is a collection of documents describing the key management schemes for use with IPsec. The main specification is  RFC 4306, Internet Key Exchange (IKEv2) Protocol, but there are a number of related  RFCs.

                           Cryptographic algorithms: This category encompasses a large set of docu- ments that define and describe cryptographic algorithms for encryption, mes- sage authentication, pseudorandom functions (PRFs), and cryptographic key exchange.

                           Other: There are a variety of other IPsec-related RFCs, including those deal- ing with security policy and management information base (MIB) content.


IPsec Services

IPsec provides security services at the IP layer by enabling a system to select required security protocols, determine the algorithm(s) to use for the service(s), and put in place any cryptographic keys required to provide the requested services. Two protocols are used to provide security: an authentication protocol designated by the header of the protocol, Authentication Header (AH); and a combined encryption/ authentication protocol designated by the format of the packet for that protocol, Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP). RFC 4301 lists the following services:

                           Access control

                           Connectionless  integrity

                           Data origin authentication

                           Rejection of replayed packets (a form of partial sequence integrity)

                           Confidentiality (encryption)

                           Limited traffic flow confidentiality


Transport and Tunnel Modes

Both AH and ESP support two modes of use: transport and tunnel mode. The oper- ation of these two modes is best understood in the context of a description of ESP, which is covered in Section 19.3. Here we provide a brief overview.

TRANSPORT MODE Transport mode provides protection primarily for upper-layer protocols. That is, transport mode protection extends to the payload of an IP packet.1 Examples include a TCP or UDP segment or an ICMP packet, all of which operate directly above IP in a host protocol stack. Typically, transport mode is used for end-to-end communication between two hosts (e.g., a client and a server, or two workstations). When a host runs AH or ESP over IPv4, the payload is the data that normally follow the IP header. For IPv6, the payload is the data that normally follow both the IP header and any IPv6 extensions headers that are present, with the possible exception of the destination options header, which may be included in the protection.

ESP in transport mode encrypts and optionally authenticates the IP payload but not the IP header. AH in transport mode authenticates the IP payload and selected portions of the IP header.


TUNNEL MODE Tunnel mode provides protection to the entire IP packet. To achieve this, after the AH or ESP fields are added to the IP packet, the entire packet plus security fields is treated as the payload of new outer IP packet with a new outer IP header. The entire original, inner, packet travels through a tunnel from one point of an IP network to another; no routers along the way are able to examine the inner IP header. Because the original packet is encapsulated, the new, larger packet may have totally different source and destination addresses, adding to the security. Tunnel mode is used when one or both ends of a security association (SA) are a security gateway, such as a firewall or router that implements IPsec. With tunnel mode, a number of hosts on networks behind firewalls may engage in secure communications without implementing IPsec. The unprotected packets generated by such hosts are tunneled through external networks by tunnel mode SAs set up by the IPsec software in the firewall or secure router at the boundary of the local network.

Here is an example of how tunnel mode IPsec operates. Host A on a network generates an IP packet with the destination address of host B on another network. This packet is routed from the originating host to a firewall or secure router at the boundary of A’s network. The firewall filters all outgoing packets to determine the need for IPsec processing. If this packet from A to B requires IPsec, the firewall performs IPsec processing and encapsulates the packet with an outer IP header. The source IP address of this outer IP packet is this firewall, and the destination address may be a firewall that forms the boundary to B’s local network. This packet is now routed to B’s firewall, with intermediate routers examining only the outer IP header. At B’s firewall, the outer IP header is stripped off, and the inner packet is delivered to B.

ESP in tunnel mode encrypts and optionally authenticates the entire inner IP packet, including the inner IP header. AH in tunnel mode authenticates the entire inner IP packet and selected portions of the outer IP header.

Table 19.1 summarizes transport and tunnel mode functionality.

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

Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, DMCA Policy and Compliant

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