Diagramming Host-to-Host Data Flow in .NET

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Diagramming Host-to-Host Data Flow
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Data flow diagrams detail the movement of digital data by each application, including every protocol, port number, encryption method, source port, destination port, and IP address basically every data call that is made from one host to another. Everything about each communication call must be documented to capture the movement of information by the applications to accomplish the work of the programs. Web-based programs that provide dynamic information based on input requests from an end user provide the best example of how one host, the Web server, can call out to a number of other hosts for information from databases. The Web server collects the replies from the database hosts and provides the template arrangement to present the collected data back to user s Web browser. The host-to-host diagram would map out all of the data paths to the database servers. The information would be used in the security controls design to limit the data flow so that the hosts are only allowed communication along those necessary paths and from and to each other. This can be done with controls in routers, in isolation firewalls, or with managed ports on a switch. Figure 3-7 shows the data flow associated with processing a credit card authorization between the application services host computer and the financial transactions host. The IP addresses, connection port numbers, form of encryption, and hash algorithm are defined in callout boxes.
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Figure 3-6 Application logic for order status authentication.
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Diagramming Contained Process Flow
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Contained process flow diagrams detail those processes and procedure calls that are confined to one piece of hardware and restrained within one operating system.
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RETURN: OK $$$ Tracing Number = # SSL Local Keys MD5 Hash 10.135.10.03 to 10.135.10.05 Port 4031, Returns 4032 Bank Process Card Authorization
SEND: Card Number, Name, Billing Address, $$ Amount, Expire Date SSL Local Keys MD5 Hash 10.135.10.03 to 10.135.10.05 Port 4031, Returns 4032 Tier-1 to 33rd National Bank
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ANN ARBOR HQ Data Flow - Web Customer - Credit Card Authorization P=6 Sheet 2 Revision 3 Figure 3-7 Credit card authorization data flow.
In N-tier systems where Web servers are communicating with other servers, calling for a process to take place and expecting a result, the logic associated with each host doing different things is fairly easy for people to comprehend. In environments where one host computer system s applications are multithreading or spawning processes within that single computer system, the logic and tracking of what each process is doing is more difficult to understand. Contained process flow diagrams reduce the potential for confusion by detailing the communications flow between the various processes of the applications running on that host.
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This type of diagramming adds value by clarifying design issues and aiding in the implementation process. It also adds value with security analysis to identify conditions of risk on each host. For example, a single host server may be running a Web server application and also have a few databases on it. A hacker might attempt to use the Web server application to launch a compromise to other databases on the server. Mapping out the internal process flows in the server will help expose the potential points for security weaknesses so they can be countered in the security controls design. A process flow to check inventory for one item selected from an online catalog is illustrated in Figure 3-8. It shows that if inventory for that item is greater than zero, process 288 runs, returning the item count balance from the database. A security analyst would see that SQL (Structured Query Language) is present within the application and that additional analysis of the controls affecting SQL access to the database is necessary. The design and implementation of an information technology system require documentation fully describing the system and every one of its subsystems and subcomponents in detail. The documentation particularly the application logic, host-to-host data flow, and contained process flow diagram sets works to help identify security weaknesses and what can be changed or modified to protect the integrity of the whole system. The view necessary for the security analyst to succeed requires an evaluation to take place one application at a time, and the documentation must be sufficient to completely explain the inner workings of all the related parts. The collection of documents and systems diagrams presented here forms the basis for creating adequate documentation. Unique environments and special cases may require that additional views diagrams or text documents or both be presented to explain the situation. Technology specialists can quickly learn the details of complex integrated systems if you have created quality documentation for their review.