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Title: Towards secure web services : performance analysis, decision making and steganography approaches
Author: Alrouh, Bachar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 9442
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2011
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Web services provide a platform neutral and programming language independent technology that supports interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network. Clients and other systems interact with Web services using a standardised XML messaging system, such as the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialisation in conjunction with other related Web standards. Nevertheless, the idea of applications from different parties communicating together raises a security threat. The challenge of Web services security is to understand and consider the risks of securing a Web-based service depending on the existing security techniques and simultaneously follow evolving standards in order to fill the gap in Web services security. However, the performance of the security mechanisms is fraught with concerns due to additional security contents in SOAP messages, the higher number of message exchanges to establish trust, as well as the extra CPU time to process these additions. As the interaction between service providers and requesters occurs via XML-based SOAP messages, securing Web services tends to make these messages longer than they would be otherwise and consequently requires interpretation by XML parsers on both sides, which reduces the performance of Web services. The work described in this thesis can be broadly divided into three parts, the first of which is studying and comparing the performance of various security profiles applied on a Web service tested with different initial message sizes. The second part proposes a multi-criteria decision making framework to aid Web services developers and architects in selecting the best suited security profile that satisfies the different requirements of a given application during the development process in a systematic, manageable, and effective way. The proposed framework, based on the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) approach, incorporates not only the security requirements, but also the performance considerations as well as the configuration constraints of these security profiles. The framework is then validated and evaluated using a scenario-driven approach to demonstrate situations where the decision making framework is used to make informed decisions to rank various security profiles in order to select the most suitable one for each scenario. Finally, the last part of this thesis develops a novel steganography method to be used for SOAP messages within Web services environments. This method is based on changing the order of XML elements according to a secret message. This method has a high imperceptibility; it leaves almost no trail because it uses the communication protocol as a cover medium, and keeps the structure and size of the SOAP message intact. The method is empirically validated using a feasible scenario so as to indicate its utility and value.
Supervisor: Ghinea, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Performance analysis ; Decision making ; Web services ; Steganography