Data Security in Wired and Wireless Systems

Data Security in Wired and Wireless Systems

Abhinav Prakash (University of Cincinnati, USA) and Dharma Prakash Agarwal (University of Cincinnati, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0105-3.ch001
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Abstract

The issues related to network data security were identified shortly after the inception of the first wired network. Initial protocols relied heavily on obscurity as the main tool for security provisions. Hacking into a wired network requires physically tapping into the wire link on which the data is being transferred. Both these factors seemed to work hand in hand and made secured communication somewhat possible using simple protocols. Then came the wireless network which radically changed the field and associated environment. How do you secure something that freely travels through the air as a medium? Furthermore, wireless technology empowered devices to be mobile, making it harder for security protocols to identify and locate a malicious device in the network while making it easier for hackers to access different parts of the network while moving around. Quite often, the discussion centered on the question: Is it even possible to provide complete security in a wireless network? It can be debated that wireless networks and perfect data security are mutually exclusive. Availability of latest wideband wireless technologies have diminished predominantly large gap between the network capacities of a wireless network versus a wired one. Regardless, the physical medium limitation still exists for a wired network. Hence, security is a way more complicated and harder goal to achieve for a wireless network (Imai, Rahman, & Kobara, 2006). So, it can be safely assumed that a security protocol that is robust for a wireless network will provide at least equal if not better level of security in a similar wired network. Henceforth, we will talk about security essentially in a wireless network and readers should assume it to be equally applicable to a wired network.
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Goals Of Security

Data Authentication

This implies verifying and guaranteeing the identity of the sender and receiver of the data before any data transmission is initiated.

Data Confidentiality

This feature is the core of secured communication and this mechanism assures that the data being transferred is only divulged to the authenticated sender and receiver. Attributes like date, time, content type, etc. are included in the data.

Data Integrity

This property assures that the data remains intact in its original form during the transmission from the sender to receiver. This means that no one is able to modify the data along the way during transmission which should also be verifiable at both the ends of communication. Checksum is one example of such a service.

Non-Repudiation

This is generally a combination of Authentication and Integrity of the data. This service facilitates proof of origin and integrity of data. In other words, no user can falsify the true ownership of data. Digital Signature is an example of such a service.

Data Availability and Reliability

In addition to all these earlier features, security mechanism should also guarantee certain threshold level of quality of service (QoS) while vide all such features could possibly add overheads. By having measures for intruder detection and combating various networks attacks provide uninterrupted service at required QoS level.

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Data Encryption

Encryption is the cryptography process in which messages or information are encoded in such a way that only authenticated people can interpret it (Gordon, Loeb, Lucyshyn, & Richardson, 2006). An encrypted message can be intercepted along the propagation path of transmission. But, by the inherent characteristics of the process, it renders useless to an interceptor, and no meaningful information can be divulged. The process of encoding is referred as encryption and decoding as decryption. The original data in its true form is referred to as plaintext. The data received after performing an encryption algorithm on the plaintext is called ciphertext. A small key portion of the algorithm in the form is a seed value for the decryption algorithm, and works as a missing secret piece of the puzzle. This secret is called a Key which is essential to decrypt a ciphertext to plaintext and is shared only with authorized people. Anyone in the possession of this key can decrypt all the ciphertext being transmitted. The harder it is to crack the key or the encryption algorithm, better is the encryption algorithm. Technically, two factors are most important for reverse engineering for an encryption algorithm to crack it, time and computation power required. Any good encryption algorithm designer tries to keep both these values as high as possible.Encryption schemes can be divided into two main categories, symmetric and asymmetric.

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