Network Security

The Internet Protocol, the backbone of the Internet, is not a secure protocol. Although you can use an IP network securely, you need to apply cryptography on top of the IP network—in your application, for example.

You should assume that every piece of data that you send or receive over a network can be observed, recorded, and replayed by an attacker. Likewise, don’t trust any network traffic you receive without cryptographic authentication as proof of identity. I get chills down my spine every time I use ftp or telnet. Those applications still accept a password, in plaintext, as authentication. As we discussed in Chapter 6, it’s a bad idea to send a password over the network.

IPng (IP next generation) is a new protocol that can provide authentication and privacy at the protocol layer. If you’d like to read more, see http://playground.sun.com/pub/ipng/html/ipng-main.html.

SafeTalk and CipherMail, presented in Chapter 10 and Chapter 11, show how you can use cryptography to provide authentication and confidentiality in networked Java applications. Even these applications, however, have some interesting shortcomings. Consider SafeTalk, for example. Even though it encrypts the contents of a conversation, it can’t conceal the existence of the conversation. Even if your enemies can’t understand what you and your friends are chatting about, you might not want your enemies to know that you’re even talking. CipherMail has the same property: Even though the contents of your ...

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