Being one of the most popular tools used in network security, Encapsulating Security Payload (abbreviated as ESP) offers the help we need in keeping the integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of the information we send across networks. Keep reading to learn more!
With the technological advancements, the way we conduct our business processes has changed immensely. Now, we heavily rely on the internet technologies and transfer massive amounts of data daily. For this data traffic, we often employ wireless and wired networks. As a result, network security and necessary cybersecurity measures gain importance each day.
Being one of the most popular tools used in network security, Encapsulating Security Payload (abbreviated as ESP) offers the help we need in keeping the integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of the information we send across networks. In this article, we will take a closer look at what Encapsulating Security Payload is. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Encapsulating Security Payload?
Encapsulating Security Payload (abbr. ESP) is a protocol within the scope of the IPSec.
The information traffic on a network is provided with packets of data. In other words, when you want to send or receive a data through a network, it is turned into packets of information so that it can travel within the network. Similar to the data packages, payload is also sent through the network and it contains the ‘actual’ information, the intended message.
The Encapsulating Security Payload aims to offer necessary security measures for these packets of data and/or payloads. With the help of Encapsulating Security Payload, confidentiality, integrity and authentication of payloads and data packets in IPv4 and IPv6 networks.
How does the Encapsulating Security Payload work?
Also known as a transport layer security protocol, the Encapsulating Security Payload is able to function with both the IPv6 and IPv4 protocols. The way ESP operates is pretty straightforward: It is inserted between the Internet Protocol/IP header and upper layer protocols such as UDP, ICMP or TCP. In this position, the ESP takes the form of a header.
How can the Encapsulating Security Payload be used?
Although the Encapsulating Security Payload offers many benefits, it can be applied in only two ways: Tunnel mode and transport mode.
In the tunnel mode, a new IP header is created and used as the outermost IP header. It is followed by the Encapsulating Security Payload Header and original datagram. Tunnel mode is a must for the gateways.
In the transportation mode, the IP header is neither authenticated nor encrypted. As a result, your addressing information can potentially be leaked during the datagram transit. Transport mode often uses less processing, that is why most hosts prefer Encapsulating Security Payload in transport mode.
What are the benefits of the Encapsulating Security Payload?
The Encapsulating Security Payload offers all the functions of the Authentication Header, which are anti-replay protection, authentication and data integrity. On the other hand, the ESP differs from the Authentication Header in terms of data confidentiality: the ESP can provide data confidentiality while the Authentication Header cannot.
Moreover, the Encapsulating Security Protocol Payload aims to provide various services including but not limited to:
- Maintaining the confidentiality of datagrams with encryption
- Using security gateways to limit the traffic flow confidentiality
- Authenticating the origin of data using a public key encryption
- Providing antireplay services with the help of the sequence number mechanism given by the Authentication Header