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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Lower-Layer (Interface, Internet and Transport) Protocols (OSI Layers 2, 3 and 4)
      9  TCP/IP Internet Layer (OSI Network Layer) Protocols
           9  Internet Protocol (IP/IPv4, IPng/IPv6) and IP-Related Protocols (IP NAT, IPSec, Mobile IP)
                9  IP Security (IPSec) Protocols

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IPSec General Operation, Components and Protocols
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IPSec Modes: Transport and Tunnel
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IPSec Architectures and Implementation Methods
(Page 2 of 3)

IPSec Architectures

Three different architectures are defined that describe methods for how to get IPSec into the TCP/IP protocol stack.

Integrated Architecture

Under ideal circumstances, we would integrate IPSec's protocols and capabilities directly into IP itself. This is the most elegant solution, as it allows all IPSec security modes and capabilities to be provided just as easily as regular IP. No extra hardware or architectural layers are needed.

IPv6 was designed to support IPSec, making this a viable option for hosts or routers. With IPv4, integration would require making changes to the IP implementation on each device, which is often impractical (to say the least!)

“Bump In The Stack” (BITS) Architecture

In this technique, IPSec is made a separate architectural layer between IP and the data link layer; the cute name refers to the fact that IPSec is an extra element in the networking protocol stack, as you can see in Figure 117. IPSec intercepts IP datagrams as they are passed down the protocol stack, processes them to provide security, and then passes them through to the data link layer.

The advantage of this technique is that IPSec can be “retrofitted” to any IP device, since the IPSec functionality is separate from IP. The disadvantage is that there is duplication of effort compared to the integrated architecture. BITS is generally used for IPv4 hosts.


Figure 117: IPSec “Bump In The Stack” (BITS) Architecture

In this type of IPSec implementation, IPSec becomes a separate layer in the TCP/IP stack. It is implemented as software that sits below IP and adds security protection to datagrams created by the IP layer.

 


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IPSec General Operation, Components and Protocols
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IPSec Modes: Transport and Tunnel
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005

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