Once upon a time, the world of network protocols was much like the Wild West. Everyone kind of did their own thing, and if there were trouble, there would be a shoot-out on Main Street. Trouble was, you never knew whether you were going to get hit by a stray bullet. Luckily, the IT *****alent of the sheriff came to town. This was the International Standards Organization (ISO). The ISO was convinced that there needed to be order and developed the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) model in 1984. The model is designed to provide order by specifying a specific hierarchy in which each layer builds on the output of each adjacent layer. Although its role as sheriff was not widely accepted by all, the model is still used today as a guide to describe the operation of a networking environment.
There are seven layers of the OSI model: the Application, Presentation, Session, Transport, Network, Data Link, and Physical layers. The seven layers of the OSI model are shown in Figure 2.1, which overviews data moving between two systems up and down the stack, and described in the following list:.
Layer 7 is known as the Application layer. Recognized as the top layer of the OSI model, this layer serves as the window for application services. The Application layer is one that most users are familiar with as it is the home of email programs, FTP, Telnet, web browsers, and office productivity suites, as well as many other applications. It is also the home of many malicious programs such as viruses, worms, Trojan horse programs, and other virulent applications.
Layer 6 is known as the Presentation layer. The Presentation layer is responsible for taking data that has been passed up from lower levels and putting it into a format that Application layer programs can understand. These common formats include American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), Extended Binary-Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC), and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). From a security standpoint, the most critical process handled at this layer is encryption and decryption. If properly implemented, this can help security data in transit.
Layer 5 is known as the Session layer. Its functionality is put to use when creating, controlling, or shutting down a TCP session. Items such as the TCP connection establishment and TCP connection occur here. Session-layer protocols include items such as Remote Procedure Call and SQLNet from Oracle. From a security standpoint, the Session layer is vulnerable to attacks such as session hijacking. A session hijack can occur when a legitimate user has his session stolen by a hacker.
Layer 4 is known as the Transport layer. The Transport layer ensures completeness by handling end-to-end error recovery and flow control. Transport-layer protocols include TCP, a connection-oriented protocol. TCP provides reliable communication through the use of handshaking, acknowledgments, error detection, and session teardown, as well as User Datagram Protocol (UDP), a connectionless protocol. UDP offers speed and low overhead as its primary advantage. Security concerns at the transport level include Synchronize(SYN) attacks, Denial of Service(DoS), and buffer overflows.
Layer 3 is known as the Network layer. This layer is concerned with logical addressing and routing. The Network layer is the home of the Internet Protocol (IP), which makes a best effort at delivery of datagrams from their source to their destination. Security concerns at the network level include route poisoning, DoS, spoofing, and fragmentation attacks. Fragmentation attacks occur when hackers manipulate datagram fragments to overlap in such a way to crash the victim’s computer. IPSec is a key security service that is available at this layer.
Data Link layer
Layer 2 is known as the Data Link layer. The Data Link layer is responsible for formatting and organizing the data before sending it to the Physical layer. The Data Link layer organizes the data into frames. A frameis a logical structure in which data can be placed; it’s a packet on the wire. When a frame reaches the target device, the Data Link layer is responsible for stripping off the data frame and passing the data packet up to the Network layer. The Data Link layer is made up of two sub layers, including the logical link control layer (LLC) and the media access control layer (MAC). You might be familiar with the MAC layer, as it shares its name with the MAC addressing scheme. These 6-byte (48-bit) addresses are used to uniquely identify each device on the local network. A major security concern of the Data Link layer is the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) process. ARP is used to resolve known Network layer addresses to unknown MAC addresses. ARP is a trusting protocol and, as such, can be used by hackers for APR poisoning, which can allow them access to traffic on switches they should not have.
Layer 1 is known as the Physical layer. At Layer 1, bit-level communication takes place. The bits have no defined meaning on the wire, but the Physical layer defines how long each bit lasts and how it is transmitted and received. From a security standpoint, you must be concerned anytime a hacker can get physical access. By accessing a physical component of a computer network—such as a computer, switch, or cable—the attacker might be able to use a hardware or software packet snifferto monitor traffic on that network. Sniffers enable attacks to capture and decode packets. If no encryption is being used, a great deal of sensitive information might be directly available to the hacker