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Security-Related Technologies Version 2.0

Authentication Technologies

Authentication is the process of determining whether someone or something is, in fact, who or what it is declared to be.  In private and public computer networks (including the Internet), authentication is commonly done through the use of logon passwords.  Knowledge of the password is assumed to guarantee that the user is authentic.  Each user registers initially (or is registered by someone else), using an assigned or self-declared password.  On each subsequent use, the user must know and use the previously declared password.  The weakness in this system for transactions that are significant (such as the exchange of money) is that passwords can often be stolen, accidentally revealed, or forgotten.

Biometric Devices

A biometric is a measurement of a unique characteristic which is digitized and recorded on the card. Biometrics is the authentication of a person's identity by verifying his unique physiological or behavioral characteristics. Instead of relying on keys, cards or passwords, it makes use of a unique feature of the user's body to establish user's identity. 

  • BioCard (brand name)

A standard-size keyboard combined with a built-in Smart Card reading station and a fingerprint- sensing pad.  You can configure the computer to accept either form of authentication alone or require both.

  • BioLink mouse (brand name)

A built-in thumbprint sensor for network or Internet identity verification.  It also includes a small window on the side where your thumb would normally rest.  Software can verify a user's identity once or at many different stages of program operation automatically without the operator even needing to let go of the mouse. “Security becomes hands-on with biometrics“, John McCormick , Dec 7, 1999, Tech Republic

  • BioMouse (brand name)

A mouse-shaped fingerprint scanner with a red-eyed window you press any finger against.  “Security becomes hands-on with biometrics“, John McCormick , Dec 7, 1999, Tech Republic

Electronic Authentication Devices

Any device which attempts to bind a particular piece of information in an electronic environment (such as someone's name and address) to another piece of information which is more susceptible to electronic verification (such as password, a cryptographic key or a piece of biometric information), such that the verification of the latter will confirm the validity of the former.

  • Digital Certificate

A digital certificate is an electronic "credit card" that establishes your credentials when doing business or other transactions on the Web.  It is issued by a certification authority (CA).  It contains your name, a serial number, expiration dates, a copy of the certificate holder's public key (used for encrypting and decrypting messages and digital signatures), and the digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority so that a recipient can verify that the certificate is real. Digital certificates can be kept in registries so that authenticated users can look up other users' public keys.

  • iKey

A USB-based token identification device that operates like a Smart Card. It uses a 128-bit encrypted key combined with a personal identification number for each authorized user.  "Security becomes hands-on with biometrics," John McCormick, December 7, 1999, Tech Republic.

  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

A PKI (public key infrastructure) enables users of a basically unsecure public network such as the Internet to securely and privately exchange data and money through the use of a public and a private cryptographic key pair that is obtained and shared through a trusted authority.  The public key infrastructure provides for digital certificates that can identify individuals or organizations and directory services that can store and, when necessary, revoke them.

  • Cards

Smart Card

Security features are an important aspect to smart cards to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to information contained on the card. The advantage smart cards have over magnetic stripe cards is that the smart card contains the computer chip which stores the password or PIN. Therefore, the password is not sent over a communication line to a computer system for verification, which can easily be tapped.   http://www.sjug.org/jcsig/others/biometrics.htm

A smart card is a card that is embedded with either a microprocessor and a memory chip or only a memory chip with non-programmable logic. The microprocessor card can add, delete, and otherwise manipulate information on the card, while a memory-chip card (for example, pre-paid phone cards) can only undertake a pre-defined operation. http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javacard/documentation/smartcards-136372.html

Swipe Card

Swipe cards hold data in the form of magnetic encoding or in the form of a barcode.  The card is swiped through a reader, which decodes the information and responds appropriately based on the card information.  Proximity cards fall within this classification and are used to limit access to defined areas.


Tokens are physical cards similar to credit cards that work in conjunction with a user-ID to identify a user to the system.  They combine something a person knows, such as a password or PIN, with something they possess, a token card.  Token cards commonly generate either dynamic passwords or a response in a challenge-response communication between the user and the system.  Tokens are commonly used for secure remote access where high levels of security are required.  It is likely that tokens will become obsolete and will be replaced by PKI as PKI matures.  "An Information Technology Security Architecture for Ohio", Ohio Dept. of Administrative Services, Nov. 16, 1999

Cryptography Technologies

Encryption is the conversion of data into a form, called a cipher, that cannot be easily understood by unauthorized people.  Decryption is the process of converting encrypted data back into its original form, so it can be understood.

The use of encryption/decryption is as old as the art of communication.  In wartime, a cipher, often incorrectly called a "code," can be employed to keep the enemy from obtaining the contents of transmissions.  (Technically, a code is a means of representing a signal without the intent of keeping it secret; examples are Morse code and ASCII.) Simple ciphers include the substitution of letters for numbers, the rotation of letters in the alphabet, and the "scrambling" of voice signals by inverting the sideband frequencies.  More complex ciphers work according to sophisticated computer algorithms that rearrange the data bits in digital signals.

  • PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is a popular program used to encrypt and decrypt e-mail over the Internet. It can also be used to send an encrypted digital signature that lets the receiver verify the sender's identity and know that the message was not changed en route. Available both as freeware and in a low-cost commercial version, PGP is the most widely used privacy-ensuring program by individuals and is also used by many corporations. Developed by Philip R. Zimmermann in 1991, PGP has become a de facto standard for e-mail security. PGP can also be used to encrypt files being stored so that they are unreadable by other users or intruders.

Access Control Technologies 

Technology concerned with the distribution and allocation of system resources to satisfy or deny user requests based upon user-specific access privileges

  • Firewall

A firewall is a set of related programs, located at a network gateway server, that protects the resources of a private network from users from other networks.  (The term also implies the security policy that is used with the programs.)  An enterprise with an intranet that allows its workers access to the wider Internet installs a firewall to prevent outsiders from accessing its own private data resources and for controlling what outside resources its own users have access to.

Basically, a firewall, working closely with a router program, filters all network packets to determine whether to forward them toward their destination. A firewall also includes or works with a proxy server that makes network requests on behalf of workstation users. A firewall is often installed in a specially designated computer separate from the rest of the network so that no incoming request can get directly at private network resources.

There are a number of firewall screening methods.  A simple one is to screen requests to make sure they come from acceptable (previously identified) domain names and IP addresses. For mobile users, firewalls allow remote access in to the private network by the use of secure logon procedures and authentication certificates.

A number of companies make firewall products.  Features include logging and reporting, automatic alarms at given thresholds of attack, and a graphical user interface for controlling the firewall. http://www.whatis.com/firewall.htm

  • Password Shadowing

Password shadowing is a security system where the encrypted password field is replaced with a special token and the encrypted password is stored in a separate file which is not readable by normal system users.

Password shadowing is a security system where the encrypted password field is replaced with a special token and the encrypted password is stored in a separate file which is not readable by normal system users.

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A way of using a public network (typically the Internet) to link two sites of an organization. A VPN is typically set up by protecting the privacy and integrity of the communication line using a secret session key. The secret session key is usually negotiated using the public keys of the two principals.  Relative to the Internet, tunneling is using the Internet as part of a private secure network.  The "tunnel" is the particular path that a given company message or file might travel through the Internet.

  • Virus Scanner

A software program which can search out, locate, and possibly remove a virus.

  • Badges
  • Cameras

Electronic Intrusion Technologies

  • Intrusion/detection

Intrusion Detection System (IDS) technology is an important component of a comprehensive enterprise security strategy. IDS products help security administrators by alerting them to suspicious activity that may be occurring on their systems and networks in real time. It has long been a subject of theoretical research, but is now gaining mainstream popularity.

  • Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)

A whole new industry is emerging to satisfy the growing need for secure electronic communications over the Internet. One of the most visible elements of the new industry is focused on providing security for the Internet Protocol (IP) environment. The IP is the foundation protocol for the Internet. IP is part of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), a network-layer standard developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to manage the routing and relaying of data between network nodes or components. IP Security or IPSec is short for the IP Security Architecture, a developing architecture that has the goal to provide interoperable, cryptographically-based security services for IP layer environments. The principal security services provided by IPSec are authentication, data integrity and confidentiality.

  • Logging

The process of documenting actions taken by an application

  • Monitoring

Packet Sniffing

A program and/or device that monitors data traveling over a network.  Sniffers can be used both for legitimate network management functions and for stealing information off a network.  Unauthorized sniffers can be extremely dangerous to a network's security because they are virtually impossible to detect and can be inserted almost anywhere.  This makes them a favorite weapon in the hacker's arsenal.  On TCP/IP networks, where they sniff packets, they're often called packet sniffers.

A packet sniffer is a program that can record all network packets that travel past a given network interface, on a given computer, on a network.  It can be used to troubleshoot network problems, as well as to extract sensitive information such as credentials from unencrypted login sessions.

Firewall Logs

Records of activities pertinent to firewall operations, usually associated with transfer of packets or the operation of the firewall software and the system on which it runs.  Firewall logs are critical to the prevention and recovery from failures and can be very useful in determining how and when intrusions are occurring for the purpose of improving the firewall.



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