Performance Evaluation of Public Key-Based Authentication in Future Mobile Communication Systems
© Kambourakis et al. 2004
Received: 1 September 2003
Published: 29 July 2004
While mobile hosts are evolving into full-IP enabled devices, there is a greater demand to provide a more flexible, reconfigurable, and scalable security mechanism in mobile communication systems beyond 3G (B3G). Work has already begun on such an "all-IP" end-to-end solution, commonly referred to as 4G systems. Fully fledged integration between heterogeneous networks, such as 2.5G, UMTS, WLAN, Bluetooth, and the Internet, demands fully compatible, time-tested, and reliable mechanisms to depend on. SSL protocol has proved its effectiveness in the wired Internet and it will probably be the most promising candidate for future wireless environments. In this paper, we discuss existing problems related to authentication and key agreement (AKA) procedures, such as compromised authentication vectors attacks, as they appear in current 2/2.5G/3G mobile communication systems, and propose how SSL, combined with public key infrastructure (PKI) elements, can be used to overcome these vulnerabilities. In this B3G environment, we perceive authentication as a service, which has to be performed at the higher protocol layers irrespective of the underlying network technology. Furthermore, we analyze the effectiveness of such a solution, based on measurements of a "prototype" implementation. Performance measurements indicate that SSL-based authentication can be possible in terms of service time in future wireless systems, while it can simultaneously provide both the necessary flexibility to network operators and a high level of confidence to end users.