For end-to-end security you have to consider the entire environment, including enterprise access, middle-tier components, and client applications. End-to-end security means that the transmission of data is secure along the entire path from the sender to the receiver—usually the client application to the enterprise server.
Authentication is the process of proving that people and organizations are who or what they claim to be. For wireless networks, this is often done at two layers: the network layer and the application layer. The network requires the user to be authenticated before that person is granted access. This can be done implicitly, based on the device or modem being used, or explicitly, using a variety of mechanisms. At the application layer, authentication is important at two levels: the client and the enterprise server. To gain access to enterprise data, the client has to prove to the server that it is what it says it is. At the same time, before a client allows an outside server to connect to it—for example, to push some content—the server has to authenticate itself to the client application. The simplest, and probably least secure, method of authentication is a username/password combination. More advanced methods include digital certificates or digital signatures.
Data integrity is assurance that the data in question has not been altered or corrupted in any way during the transmission from the sender to the receiver. This can be accomplished by using data encryption in combination with a cryptographic checksum or Message Authentication Code (MAC). This information is encoded into the message itself by applying an algorithm to the message. When recipients receive the message, they compute the MAC and compare it with the MAC encoded in the message to see if the codes are the same. If they are, recipients can be confident that the message has not been tampered with. If the codes are different, recipients can discard the data as inaccurate.
Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of security, and certainly the most talked about. Confidentiality is about maintaining data privacy, making sure it cannot be viewed by unwanted parties. Most often, when people are worried about the security of a system, they are concerned that sensitive information, such as a credit card number or health records, can be viewed by parties with malicious intent. The most common way of preventing this intrusion is by encrypting the data. This process involves encoding the content of a message into a form that is unreadable by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Authorization is the process of determining the user’s level of access—whether a user has the right to perform certain actions. Authorization is often closely tied to authentication. Once a user is authenticated, the system can determine what that party is permitted to do. Access control lists (ACLs) are often used to help determine this. For example, all users may have read-only access to a set of data, while the administrator, or another trusted source, may also have write access to the data.
Nonrepudiation is about making parties accountable for transactions in which they have participated. It involves identifying the parties in such a way that they cannot at a later time deny their involvement in the transaction. In essence, it means that both the sender and the recipient of a message can prove to a third party that the sender did indeed send the message and the recipient received the identical message. To accomplish this, each transaction has to be signed with a digital signature that can be verified and time-stamped by a trusted third party.