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A Novel Encrypted Database Technique to Develop a Secure Application for an Academic Institution


Abstract and Figures

This paper presents the implementation of a secure application for an academic institution that offers numerous services to both students and the faculty. The primary focus of this paper is to provide a technical implementation of a new architecture for encrypting the database. The scope of this paper mainly includes but is not limited to symmetric and public-key cryptography, authentication, key management, and digital signatures. The final results of this paper demonstrate that what security features one should implement in order to achieve a highly secured application. This paper presents the implementation of a stand alone system that can be implemented on any legacy systems, and still operates effectively. In other words, it is self sufficient in terms of the data that it stores.
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Abstract This paper presents the implementation of a
secure application for an academic institution that offers
numerous services to both students and the faculty. The
primary focus of this paper is to provide a technical
implementation of a new architecture for encrypting the
database. The scope of this paper mainly includes but is not
limited to symmetric and public-key cryptography,
authentication, key management, and digital signatures. The
final results of this paper demonstrate that what security
features one should implement in order to achieve a highly
secured application. This paper presents the implementation
of a stand alone system that can be implemented on any legacy
systems, and still operates effectively. In other words, it is self
sufficient in terms of the data that it stores.
Some of the major services that the intended application
offers to both students and the faculty are as follows:
The intended application is flexible in a sense that it
gives ability to add/delete users, courses, students, and
Flexibility to change passwords. The secure application
provides highly transparent environment to its users (i.e.,
the students and the faculty can use this application in a
highly transparent manner). There should be minimal
input from the user due to security features.
One of the key features that the proposed application
offers is the “forgotten passwords”. In other words, the
secure application makes sure that if a user forgets his/her
password, they should not completely lose their
In addition, the proposed application ensures that an
administrator should not be able to decrypt the
Finally we design and develop this secure application by
assuming that the communication is not secure at all.
Some of the security measures that we consider during
the design and development of the targeted secure
applications are as follows: Log all accesses activities to the
server and provide features in the secure application to
1Contact author:,
search for unusual access patterns. If possible, put an upper
limit on the number of document that a single user can
access or we should have a warning mechanism in the
application to ensure fairness. Our secure application
should have a permission system to the document that
determines if a user is permitted to access it. If the
documents are read-only, add a software application called
"Secure Viewer" that never stores the document to disk. A
user should also have the capability to add a specialized
crypto board on the server. This crypto card would be used
to encrypt/decrypt files on the server.
One of the major objectives of the targeted secure
application is to provide secure storage of the faculty
documents as well as maintaining authorized access to the
documents for the authorized users. In order to maintain
this level of security, there is a need to design a strong and
secured application that let the documents of the faculty
being kept secret by implementing data Integrity and
confidentiality as well as making the documents partially
shared or available. Our design approach, therefore,
implements a complete line of defensive authentication and
authorization cryptographic standards to protect the data
and to maintain its integrity while at the same time making
it available for the authorized users. In particular, in order
to design and implement such a secured application, the
following are the minimum key security-elements that
should be addressed by us in this paper: User authentication
and Authorization [1, 2], ACL Management & Access
Availability [3], Data encryption and decryption [4, 5], Data
integrality, and Document Accountability [2]. Fig. 1 shows
the implementation of the above five security components
for both faculty as well as the student-users. Furthermore,
the class diagram as shown in Fig. 2.
A. User Authentication and Authorization
The secure application is certainly required to employ a
strong mechanism to authenticate the users. The most
frequently used strategy is asking for a user name and
A Novel Encrypted Database Technique to Develop a Secure Application for an
Academic Institution
1Syed S. Rizvi, 2Aasia Riasat, 3Mustafa A. Khan and 4Khaled M. Elleithy
1, 3, 4Computer Science & Engineering Department, University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT
2Computer Science Department, Institute of Business Management, Karachi, Pakistan
srizvi@bridgeport.edu1,, mustafak@bridgeport.edu3 ,elleithy@bridgeport.edu4
T. Sobh et al. (eds.), Novel Algorithms and Techniques in Telecommunications and Networking,
DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3662-9_50, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
password to authenticate the user. Some key points that we
should consider in the design of authentication mechanism
are: transmitting the password in clear (i.e., we may use
SSL to protect the user privacy and to safe the application
by being played in the hand of some intruder after he
capture the network traffic and thus get the password).
Also, it is required that the secure application provides
secure storage of the user names and passwords along with
a method to manage them, including resetting or revoking
the passwords or user accounts. Our another important
concern during the preliminary design of secure application
is whether to store the password in some hash format or
storing it in the plain text format as the user entered. In
order to keeps the user confidentiality intact and also letting
the password to become non human understandable,
hashing, therefore, becomes one of our design choices.
Password Derived Bytes
Rijndael Algorithm
HASH: SHA1 Algorithm
Message Digest
Digital Signature
RSA Algorithm
Public Key (PK)
Message Digest
Generates a key based on user’s password
Uses the Key (
) to encrypt the message (
This message decry ption is
performed if the mes sages
are transmitted without DS
(i.e., we intend to use DS
between faculty to faculty
data transfer
Message Digest
Decrypting the signat ure using
the sender’s public key to
recover the original MD or
Rijndael Algorithm
Generating private and
public keys
Writing a text on the screen
Users: Faculty or/and Students
Fig. 1. Proposed Architecture for combining various security features for the intended application
B. ACL Management & Access Availability
One of the requirements of the secured application is
making information always accessible to users who need it
and who have sufficient permissions to access it. In order to
achieve this task, the design of secure application should
provide a robust mechanism to perform good management
of document creation and access rights settings. Our secure
application provides a number of features that, for example,
allow owner to easily create and modify the documents,
choose the encryption technique available in the secure
application to store the document in encrypted format and
most importantly setting the access control lists ACL. An
owner can specify the objects and the accessibility domains
C. Date Encryption and Decryption
The design of a secure application is not possible without
the use of some encryption and decryption techniques. The
secure application, therefore, should employ encryption and
decryption technique for controlling the document integrity
and accessibility. The advantages of symmetric key
cryptography make our design choice rather
straightforward. However, since both parties need the same
key for effective communication to occur, key distribution
becomes an issue. For our secure application, the encryption
will takes place at the server where as the keys can be
generated by the owner of the files entering some text. In
addition, if file gets corrupted, the owner should be able to
produce the same set of the keys if needed. The keys can be
stored in encrypted format on the secured server, while just
the server side application can access the file that contains
the set of all keys that are used to encrypt the documents.
D. Data Integrity
Data integrity is one of the issues that we consider during
the development phase of our secured application. The task
is to make files secure by completely denying unauthorized
access to the files while at the same time make sure that the
files should be modified only by those (student or faculty)
who are authorized to do so (If any) or can not be modified
other than the owner of the document. We implement the
Fig. 2. Class diagram for the implemented project
concept of digital signatures that enable recipients to verify
the integrity of an electronic document that is used. In our
application, we ensure that the data integrity is maintained
after implementing the digital signatures. One way of
implementing this concept is the use of a one-way hash that
creates a fixed-length hash value or message digest for a
message of any length. With a hash attached to the original
message, a user or owner can determine if the message was
altered by re-computing the hash and comparing his or her
answer to the attached hash.
In this section, we present our overall design structure
for the targeted application. In addition, this section
provides a comprehensive discussion on implantation issues
and our design choices for implementing each security
component we discussed above. The detailed flow diagram
of the proposed project is shown in Fig. 3.
A. Project Design Phase
The Secure Document application is designed and
developed to implement the security features that we have
learned during this course of Network Security. This project
was built using the .Net Framework and coded using C# as
the base language. The main tools used in the project are:
Visual Studio 2003 Development Environment, Asp .Net
Framework, MS Access (Database) for storing projects
entities and Documents, ADO.NET for database
connectivity, Internet Information Server IIS 5.0 (web
server), Secure Http (https). The database was designed in a
way that it would suit the application flow and all the
entities of the application. Next we describe each of them in
some detail along with the over all database design. For the
sake of simplicity, all the entities information are kept
simple in database, although this information can be made
comprehensive and complete in any real time
implementation and as per the development requirements.
Fig. 3. Detailed Flow Diagram of Secure Application for an Academic Institution
B. Proposed Security Design
The proposed security design includes various security
measures that are incorporated in the intended application.
1) Custom Base Class: In our project we have used
ASP.NET Custom Base Class feature to secure access to all
the project web pages, data and services available on them.
For this purpose, we created custom base class called “My
Pages” which is derived for System.Web.UI.Pages and
consists of those classes that contain the code that put the
security checks and take care of the process of
authorization. All the web form’s codes behind classes are
derived from the Custom Base Class that provides the basic
infrastructure for the web page’s information access
security. To implement this hierarchy, we implemented the
.Net’s most prominent feature: session management to
maintain the user’s identity at each step of the application.
By using the custom based class implementation, we have
avoided the URL spoofing in which a person who is not
authorize to view the page contents or to access the
resources offered by it can be able to access the page’s
2) Dynamic Key Generation and Management: In order
to prevent the unauthorized access to the keys that are used
to secure the documents upon storage, the keys for
encryption and decryption are chosen entirely at run time.
With this approach, we avoided to store them at any place
which consequently avoided any security threats. The
system will be a bit slow in the response but will save us the
cost of being insecure. The keys are generated based on the
session objects information of the person which is being
signed at the time of the document upload and encryption
C. Basic Concepts Design and Flow Diagram
The basic concept includes the users, custom, validation
and calendar controls. Validating the user inputs
throughout the pages include telephone number and date
information. Updating the database based on the calendar
when the user specify the date. The retrieved information
from the database is displayed using data adapters, data
sets, data grids and data list. The main tools used as a basic
concept in .Net framework are: User Controls, Image
Controls, Html File Control, Data List, Data Grid, Calendar
Controls, Validation Controls, Regular Expressions, Data
Readers, Data Adapters, and Data Sets. The data flow
diagram is a high level representation of this project. It can
be seen in Fig. 3 that the data flow from top to bottom
where system administrator initiates and introduces
students, courses, and faculty.
In this section, we present a discussion on the
technicalities we encountered during the development phase
of this project. This includes implementation detail and
interface choice. In this application, the flow of the
application starts from the main (default) page where a
person sign in and then based on its role or membership,
he/she will be then directed to specific web pages and
resources he can access. The main entities in this
implementation include System Admin interface and
Faculty and Student Interfaces as outlined below.
A. System Admin and Faculty Interface
The system admin interface contains the links to the pages
where a system admin can perform course management,
faculty & students accounts managements In addition, a
system admin can assign courses to faculty and can register
students to specific courses. The links at the system admin
interface include faculty accounts, admin accounts, student
accounts, courses management interfaces. System
administrator manages student’s accounts by adding,
modifying, deleting student record. He/she can setup their
login accounts and can register them to the desired courses
Fig. 4. System Admin Control Panel: Faculty Accounts Management
Fig. 5. System Admin Control Panel: Student Accounts Management
offered by a certain semester. Figures 4, 5, and 6 show the
different parts of the system administration.
When a faculty member logs in to the application, he/she
is directed to a web page that provides the information and
services that are only related to that faculty member. As one
can see in Fig. 4, the faculty member has provided the
information regarding the courses that are assigned to him
and the documents (encrypted) that he has in his folder at
the server. In addition when a course is selected, the page
shows the documents that are related to that specific course.
The list of students who have given the access to his (faculty
member) documents are also shown here. The faculty
member has given the option to change the accessibility
permissions of the student by deleting the student record
form the list for whom he doesn’t want to allow the
accessibility of the document. The documents are uploaded
to the server in encrypted format and then stored into the
data base as a BLOB. During the uploading and encryption,
the secure Http Protocol is being used, so that the transfer of
the documents takes place securely as shown in Fig. 7. In
addition, Fig. 6 can be used by a system administrator to
manage the courses for both faculty and students.
B. Student Interface
When a student logs into the secure document application,
he has shown the list of his registered courses and their
complete description including faculty information (see Fig.
5). He can choose any of the documents that he want to
access and can click the download button. The download
button extract the document that are stored in the database
in the BLOB form and then decrypt it on to the-sever;
finally the document is made available in the browser for
the student. During the document transfer we again
implemented secure Http protocol to securely transfer the
document. The details are shown in Fig. 5. On the same
page student can change his password or secret question
and answer any time. Passwords and secret questions and
answers are stored in the encrypted format in the database
and hence.
In this paper, we presented a new design for providing
comprehensive security for a secure application by
combining many different security techniques using the
.NET framework. The most prominent feature of the .NET
is its full fleshed Cryptography-API that provides
techniques of encryption and decryption while hiding all the
technical details. This is one of the main reasons that we
achieved the goal of completing this secure application.
Secure HTTP communication provided by ASP.NET’s API
is also another most important and handy feature worth to
mention here. Some of the tools used in the application
include data access controls that avoid repetitive database
programming, built in authentication features and security
controls that enable automated management of user
accounts and roles and simplified web deployment. The
proposed project consists of different tools and techniques
for building secure web applications with strong database
accessibility and crypto graphic techniques. During the
design phase, we learned and practiced many new
techniques that we found very useful and interesting in the
context of building a secure and powerful web application
along with strong and real time database functionality.
[1] L. Moningi, “Authentication and Authorization in ASP.NET,”
September 09, 2003. Available at: http://www.c-
[2] D. Watkins, “An Overview of Security in the .NET Framework,” Project
42, Sebastian Lange, Microsoft Corporation. January 2002.
[3] J. Meier, A. Mackman, B. Wastell, P. Bansode, A. Wigley, K. Gopalan,
“Security Practices: ASP.NET 2.0 Security Practices at a Glance,”
Microsoft Corporation, August 2005.
[4] A. Yao, “How to generate and exchange secrets,” Proceedings IEEE
27th Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS), pp.
162–167, 1986.
[5] ISO/IEC 11770-2: 1996. “Key management - Part 2: Mechanisms using
symmetric techniques, Internatio nal Organ ization for
Standardization, 1996.
Fig. 6. System Admin Control Panel: Courses Management
Fig. 7. Faculty Member Interface
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Conference Paper
In this paper we introduce a new tool for controlling the knowledge transfer process in cryptographic protocol design. It is applied to solve a general class of problems which include most of the two-party cryptographic problems in the literature. Specifically, we show how two parties A and B can interactively generate a random integer N = p¿q such that its secret, i.e., the prime factors (p, q), is hidden from either party individually but is recoverable jointly if desired. This can be utilized to give a protocol for two parties with private values i and j to compute any polynomially computable functions f(i,j) and g(i,j) with minimal knowledge transfer and a strong fairness property. As a special case, A and B can exchange a pair of secrets sA, sB, e.g. the factorization of an integer and a Hamiltonian circuit in a graph, in such a way that sA becomes computable by B when and only when sB becomes computable by A. All these results are proved assuming only that the problem of factoring large intergers is computationally intractable.
Authentication and Authorization in ASP.NET
  • L Moningi
L. Moningi, "Authentication and Authorization in ASP.NET," September 09, 2003. Available at:
Key management -Part 2: Mechanisms using symmetric techniques
  • Iso Iec
ISO/IEC 11770-2: 1996. " Key management -Part 2: Mechanisms using symmetric techniques, " International Organization for Standardization, 1996.
Security Practices: ASP.NET 2.0 Security Practices at a Glance
  • J Meier
  • A Mackman
  • B Wastell
  • P Bansode
  • A Wigley
  • K Gopalan
J. Meier, A. Mackman, B. Wastell, P. Bansode, A. Wigley, K. Gopalan, "Security Practices: ASP.NET 2.0 Security Practices at a Glance," Microsoft Corporation, August 2005.
Security Practices: ASP.NET 2.0 Security Practices at a Glance,” Microsoft Corporation
  • J Meier
  • A Mackman
  • B Wastell
  • P Bansode
  • A Wigley
  • K Gopalan