It allows entities communicating over networks to prove their identity
to each other while preventing eavesdropping or replay attacks. It also
provides for data stream integrity (detection of modification) and
secrecy (preventing unauthorized reading) using cryptography systems
such as DES.
It is important to realize that Kerberos is a one-trick pony. It
provides for mutual authentication and secure communication between
principals on an open network by manufacturing secret keys for any
requestor and providing a mechanism for these secret keys to be safely
propagated through the network. Kerberos does not, per se, provide for
authorization or accounting, although applications that wish to can use
their secret keys to perform those functions securely. Kerberos also
does not provide password validation for individual workstations unless
care is taken.
It is also important to understand that using Kerberos on time-sharing machines greatly weakens its protections, since user's tickets are then only as secure as the `root' account (read: not very). Furthermore, dumb terminals and most X terminals do not understand the Kerberos protocol and as a result their cable connections remain insecure.
As far as I know, TIS/PEM and RIPEM are not used (or, at least, widely used) for securing electronic commerce transactions, but only for personal email messages. However, we may assume that some vendors will support PEM encrypted messages for their transaction processes if a significant number of customers desire so.
Some softwares developers have implemented a system by which NCSA
Mosaic client and/or server call external PGP program which encrypt and
decrypt their communications and thus provide secure communications
between the server and the client, and ensure that a user is who he/she
says he/she is.
However, the most ``natural'' mean to securely communicate with PGP is
by exchanging encrypted email messages, since this can be performed an
In both cases, the merchant can register his public key on a server
such as SLED (http://www.four11.com) where the customer will be able to
retrieve it. The merchant will have to provide the server with evidence
(by another mean than the Internet) that he/she claims who he/she
actually is, so that the customer will be able to trust his/her public
Several electronic storefronts, such as NetMarket, support purchase orders or customer sensitive information encrypted with PGP.
We can enter our credit card number on a secure (https) browser (we may
assume that other browsers than Netscape Navigator will support SSL in
a near future) form and transmit the form over the Internet to a secure
Commerce Server without risk of an intermediary obtaining our credit
card information. The security features offered by SSL compliant
technology protect commercial transactions, as well as all other
communications, from misappropriation and fraud that could otherwise
occur as information passes through Internet computers.
Secure communications does not eliminate all of an Internet user's
concerns. For example, the end-user must be willing to trust the server
administrator with his or her credit card number before he or she enter
into a commercial transaction. Security technology secures the routes
of Internet communication; but does not protect from unreputable or
careless people with whom we might choose to do business.
The situation is analogous to telling someone our credit card number
over the telephone. We may be secure in knowing that no one has
overheard our conversation (privacy) and that the person on the line
works for the company we wish to buy from (authentication), but we must
also be willing to trust the person and the company.
Server administrators must take additional precautions to prevent
security breaches. To protect information, they must maintain physical
security of their server computers and control access to software
passwords and private keys.
A lot of electronic storefronts, such as MarketNet, now support SSL mechanism.
S-HTTP specifies ways to add all the secure features needed in a
transaction to the conversations that occur over the Internet between
World Wide Web clients and servers. S-HTTP does not say how these
elements will appear to users or what elements should be used with what
transactions; that is up to the developers of the clients and servers
and their customers.
However, a few companies like OpenMarket and NCSA have already released Web secure servers and clients that support S-HTTP, Terisa proposes toolkits to develop such systems, and CyberCash has developed a payment system based on this protocol.
The primary objective of the IPSEC work is to ensure that IPv4 and IPv6
will have solid cryptographic security mechanisms available to users
who desire security. These mechanisms are designed to avoid adverse
impacts on Internet users who do not employ these security mechanisms
for their traffic. These mechanisms are intended to be
algorithm-independent so that the cryptographic algorithms can be
altered without affecting the other parts of the implementation. These
security mechanisms should be useful in enforcing a variety of security
As far as I know, the IPSEC is not yet implemented: this protocol is in a stage of ``work in progress'', but it may be worth to keep looking at what it will become.