WCF Se curity Concepts in Visual Studio .NET

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WCF Se curity Concepts
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Confidentiality When dealing with sensitive information, there is little use in establishing identity and authorization if the results of a call will be broadcast to anyone who is interested Con dentiality is the concept of preventing others from reading the information exchanged between a caller and a service This is typically accomplished via encryption, and a variety of mechanisms for this exist within WCF Integrity The nal basic concept of security is the assurance that the contents of a message have not been tampered with during transfer between caller and service, and vice versa This is typically done by digitally signing or generating a signed hash for the contents of the message and having the receiving party validate the signature based on the contents of what it received If the computed value does not match the embedded value, the message should be refused Note that integrity can be provided even when privacy is not necessary It may be acceptable to send information in the clear (unencrypted) as long as the receiver can be assured that it is the original data via digital signature veri cation Transport and Message Security There are two major classi cations of security within WCF; both are related to the security of what is transferred between a service and caller (sometimes called transfer security) The rst concept is of protecting data as it is sent across the network, or on the wire This is known as transport security The other classi cation is called message security and is concerned with the protection that each message provides for itself, regardless of the transportation mechanism used Transport security provides protection for the data sent, without regard to the contents A common approach for this is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypting and signing the contents of the packets sent over HTTPS There are other transport security options as well, and the choice of options will depend on the particular WCF binding used In fact, you will see that many options in WCF are con gured to be secure by default, such as with TCP
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8: Se curity
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One limitation of transport security is that it relies on every step and participant in the network path having consistently con gured security In other words, if a message must travel through an intermediary before reaching its destination, there is no way to ensure that transport security has been enabled for the step after the intermediary (unless that intermediary is fully controlled by the original service provider) If that security is not faithfully reproduced, the data may be compromised downstream In addition, the intermediary itself must be trusted not to alter the message before continuing transfer These considerations are especially important for services available via Internet-based routes, and typically less important for systems exposed and consumed within a corporate intranet Message security focuses on ensuring the integrity and privacy of individual messages, without regard for the network Through mechanisms such as encryption and signing via public and private keys, the message will be protected even if sent over an unprotected transport (such as plain HTTP) The option to use transport and message security is typically speci ed in con guration; two basic examples are shown in Listing 81
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Listing 81 Transport and Message Security Examples
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As you progress through this chapter, you ll see scenarios with examples using transport or message security, and in some cases, a mixture of both
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Certificate-Based Encr yption
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Certi cates, and the claims they represent, are a secure, general-purpose method for proving identity They embody a robust security mechanism that makes them a great option for encryption and authentication WCF uses industry-standard X509 certi cates, which are widely adopted and used by many technology vendors Internet browsers and Internet servers use this format to store encryption keys and signatures for SSL communication on the Web Certi cates provide strong encryption and are well understood and documented The primary disadvantages of certi cates are the expense of acquiring them for production from a third-party authority and the complexity associated with provisioning them How do you distribute them What do you do if one is stolen How do you recover data after one is lost If you store them on a client computer, how can you access information from the road A variety of solutions address these problems, from storing certi cates in a directory within an intranet or on the public Internet, to storing them in Smart Cards that we can carry in our wallets Regardless of the provisioning solution, certi cates are a good option for encryption and authentication
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Concepts The overall concept of message encryption with asymmetric keys is fairly simple Imagine an algorithm that can encrypt an arbitrary string using one key and that can decrypt it with another key Now imagine that I have a pair of those keys, and I make one of them public so that everyone on the Internet can see it, but I keep the other one private so that only I can see it If my friend wants to send me a message, he looks up my public key, runs the algorithm to encrypt the message, and sends it If the encrypted message is intercepted by my enemy, that person can t read it because only I, with my private key, can decrypt it When I send a response back to my friend, I look up his public key, run the algorithm to encrypt the response, and send it Again, only he can decrypt the encrypted messages, so it will be kept con dential between us
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