Information Security Management: A Research Project

Article excerpt

Introduction

The next step in the evolution of enterprise networking is the wireless LANs, which are being deployed across all industries, including Financial Service Providers for their productivity and cost-saving benefits. Corporate responsibility dictates the need to secure data from unauthorized access, such as competitors, hackers, and other security threats (Computer Security Institute and Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2002). The growth of information systems and in particular e-commerce activities over the Internet has increased the risk to corporate data, and thus assurance of information and data communications infrastructure is of paramount importance. Information security has become an exciting topic of discussion in the popular computer and networking technical journals. The skills required to investigate, manage, and respond to cyber attacks are sought by Fortune 500 corporations. Hands-on projects, which are technical but simple to implement, can help motivate the Information Systems (IS) students to explore the technical concepts of information security. The research project undertaken by the IS undergraduate student is simple enough to implement, as it requires just elementary programming skills. Furthermore, the project provides the undergraduate student to explore in some depth, some of the technical aspects of information security. The UNDERGRADUATE SUPPORT INITIATIVE funded the research project under RESEARCH/CREATIVE AWARDS sponsored by Faculty Development Center at California State University, Fullerton. The award money was budgeted for hardware, software and the undergraduate student time.

Project Definition--Learning Objectives

The project will provide hands on experience to the IS student with limited technical background while requiring limited technical support. The scope of the research project was to explore the strengths and weaknesses of network security. Hence, we decided to focus on a series of commonly used technologies and methods, which can provide a substantial, secured network environment. The four aspects of project included:

* Network security via Virtual Private Network using Vtun software

* Network security via Virtual Private Network using LinkSys router

* Wireless Security using WEP, and MAC filtering

* Network vulnerability and securing network from intruders.

A virtual private network (VPN) is an extension of a private network that encompasses links across shared or public networks like the Internet. A VPN enables one to send data between two computers across a shared or public inter-network very similar to a point-to-point private link rather then a shared network, which could expose the data being communicated, to anyone who shares the connection medium. First a VPN circuit is setup, next the data is encrypted and a header is added to provide routing information, thus allowing data to traverse the shared or public inter-network to reach its endpoint. Packets that are intercepted on the shared or public network are indecipherable without the encryption keys. There are two major classes of encryption algorithms (Forouzan, 2003b): symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption uses one secret key for both encryption and decryption. The message sender and the recipient share this key. Some popular conventional encryption algorithms are Blowfish (Schneier, 1993), RC5 (Rivest, 1994), and DES (FIPS, 1977). Public-key encryption (asymmetric encryption) has two keys. One key (public key) is used to encrypt the message and a second, very private key is used to decrypt the message. The most popular public-key algorithm is the RSA encryption algorithm (Rivest, Sharmir, & Adleman, 1978).

Project as a Pedagogical Tool

The final report should include a discussion on information security concepts that were learnt by having analyzed the outcomes of the project. Those concepts include the following:

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