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Protection against attacks

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Protection against attacks

IPSec protects data so that an attacker finds it extremely difficult or impossible to interpret it. The level of protection provided is determined by the strength of the security levels specified in your IPSec policy structure.

IPSec has a number of features that significantly reduce or prevent the following attacks:

  • Sniffers (lack of confidentiality)

    The Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) protocol in IPSec provides data confidentiality by encrypting the payload of IP packets.

  • Data modification

    IPSec uses cryptography-based keys, shared only by the sending and receiving computers, to create a cryptographic checksum for each IP packet. Any modification to the packet data alters the checksum, which indicates to the receiving computer that the packet was modified in transit.

  • Identity spoofing, password-based, and application-layer attacks

    IPSec allows the exchange and verification of identities without exposing that information to interpretation by an attacker. Mutual verification (authentication) is used to establish trust between the communicating systems and only trusted systems can communicate with each other. After identities are established, IPSec uses cryptography-based keys, shared only by the sending and receiving computers, to create a cryptographic checksum for each IP packet. The cryptographic checksum ensures that only the computers that have knowledge of the keys could have sent each packet.

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks

    IPSec combines mutual authentication with shared, cryptography-based keys.

  • Denial-of-service attacks

    IPSec uses IP packet filtering methodology as the basis for determining whether communication is allowed, secured, or blocked, according to the IP address ranges, IP protocols, or even specific TCP and UDP ports.

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