Management of Symmetric Keys in .NET

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3.2 Management of Symmetric Keys
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In this section, we provide examples of some of the most prominent key management procedures being used today. It is of course not our intent to cover every imaginable method for symmetric keys. Other examples of key management procedures such as Mobile IP AAA and public key infrastructure (PKI) certificates are provided in later chapters. It should also be mentioned that the tasks of key management and peer authentication are closely related and we now are witnessing a trend in combining the two. Since authentication is an expensive procedure, whenever possible, keys or keying materials for the following secure communications should be established in conjunction with the authentication process:
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When authentication of a peer is performed by a central server, it is common that authentication and key generation happens at the server simultaneously and then the keys are transferred from the server to the client (peer) along with the indication of the successful authentication. When key management happens through a peer-to-peer key agreement and independent of a main server, care must be taken so that neither peer establishes a trust relationship or keys with unknown or untrusted entities. For this reason well-designed key agreement methods also include an in-band mutual peer authentication.
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3.2.1 EAP Key Management Methods
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As mentioned earlier, combining authentication and key management procedure is an efficient exercise. A new trend is emerging in the design of wireless access technologies: access network authentication mechanisms are being used to create dynamic security associations between the wireless end client (in the hands of the user) and the network edge devices. In many ways, the IEEE 802.11 group and its business counter part, the Wi-Fi alliance [WIFIWEB], who deal with the design of wireless local area network (WLAN) technologies have been in the forefront of this movement. The main driver behind the movement may have been the massive critic that WEP, which was the first proposal for WLAN link security and authentication has been received for the weak protection that it provided. One of the main problems with WEP was the way it handled the key management for secure communications between the WLAN access point and the end clients. One of the main weaknesses of WEP is that it only supports the use of one single static pre-shared key between a WLAN access point and all the end clients that interact with that access point. Different clients authenticated with the access point all own a copy of that same encryption
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Key Management Methods
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key and hence cannot privately communicate with the WLAN AP, while other authenticated clients are present. Furthermore, the WEP security mechanisms were easy to crack, which meant that as soon as an attacker discovered that universal key within the WLAN coverage area, the communications for all the clients within that area would be compromised. In order to solve these problems, the community has been looking into ways to be able to resolve the key management problem in a secure and scalable way. The result has been the design of new security methods that produce dynamic session keys in conjunction with the initial authentication procedure. Since EAP provides a generic authentication framework capable of providing native support for many authentication methods and their interactions with a backend authentication server, it has been used for key management procedures as well. In 2, we presented an overview of the EAP as a generic framework for use of a variety authentication and access control algorithms. We will devote an entire chapter of this book ( 10) to describing the details of many of these authentication mechanisms within EAP framework. Therefore, we will not go through the use of authentication methods within EAP framework here. However, the newer application of EAP as a key management framework is rapidly gaining popularity, and hence it is only responsible thing to do for the IETF EAP community to take the task of standardization of EAP as a key management framework. This work will hopefully not only supersede the popular IEEE 802.1x frameworks and clear the limitations and confusions experienced in the implementation of that protocol, but also provide a guideline for all the future instantiations of EAP-based authentication and key management protocols. In this section, we provide an overview of the EAP key management framework [EAPKEYID]. However, it should be mentioned that as opposed to the EAP authentication framework, the use of EAP as a key management framework is still at a toddler stage of the standardization process and should be considered as such. In this treatment, we do our best to cover the important fundamentals that we deem rather stable and shy away from less stable details. In 2, we described the way EAP is fitted for carrying the messaging for a generic authentication method in a three-party authentication model: EAP was originally designed to support network access and authentication mechanisms in environments where IP messaging was not available, such as over link layer access protocols. Hence, the EAP messages are meant to be carried over a link layer specific protocol between the end client and the edge device that acts as an authenticator. The EAP messaging between the authenticator and the backend authentication server, which is usually an authentication server, over a AAA protocol. We will describe encapsulation of EAP inside AAA protocols when we describe the two prominent AAA protocols, namely RADIUS and Diameter and will not go over any details here. Figure 3.2 shows this model, which can be used for providing a combination of access control and link security setup for an unknown end client (peer or user) perfectly. As the end entity (peer) requests for access and submits her/its credentials to an edge device (authenticator in the model), the authenticator
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