..... Cormmen Keith M. M a r t i n a C h r i s J. Mitchell b keith.martin @esat.kuleuven.ac, be C.Mitchell@ rhbnc.ac, uk a Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium blnformation Security Group, Royal Holloway, University of London, U.K. 77~e level of network authentication and security offered by a protocol proposed in  is considered. In  a protocol was described for providing "mutual authentication" and "key distribution" between a mobile user and a base station by means of the exchange of public key certificates. The protocol was specifically designed with the power consumption restrictions of the mobile device in mind. The authors explicitly requested interested parties to comment on the proposed protocol, and we thus provide some remarks on the authentication and security goals achieved by this particular protocol. Setting aside the precise certificate design, the "mutual authentication and key distribution protocol" of  involves a very simple exchange of public key certificates. The base station accompanies its certificate with y~Xbt(, where Y.m is the public key of the mobile user (extracted from the certificate of the mobile user), Xb is the secret key of the base station, and .K is the session key (randomly generated by the base station). We have a number of concerns, regarding both the degree of "mutual authentication" and the level of security that this process achieves. We start by considering what "authentication" it achieves. . Most worryingly, compromise of just one session key K leads to effective compromise of the secret key of the base station Xb. Although an attacker cannot obtain Xb, knowledge of a prior session key K I allows y~-Xb to be obtained (assuming the attacker has been monitoring activity on the user-to-base station interface). The attacker can now act with impunity against the mobile user in the role of the base station in this protocol. We conclude that the achievements of the protocol proposed in  seem rather limited with regards to network authentication and security. In particular we note that although the precise authentication and security goals of the protocol are not identified in , the achieved authentication and security goals do not strike us as strong enough for application in a real mobile network environment.
ACM SIGMOBILE Mobile Computing and Communications Review – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Apr 1, 1999
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