Security and the OSI Model

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The Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) model is a standard reference model for the communication between two end users. Seven different layers make up the OSI model: physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application. This paper will cover the type of security that is associated with each level of the OSI model.

Physical Layer

The physical layer is where the actual communication occurs between devices. The security of the physical layer pertains to the actual hardware. The vulnerabilities of the physical layer include:

• Power outage

• Environmental control loss

• Hardware theft, damage or destruction

• Unauthorized hardware changes (i.e.; removable media, data connections)

• Detachment of the physical data links

• Unnoticeable Data Interception

• Keystroke Logging

Certain measures can be implemented to ensure the physical layer is secure. This would be done by storing all hardware in a locked environment. The use of electronic locks would control and log all access to the room containing the hardware. The electronic locks could be a PIN and password or fingerprint scanner (biometrics). The use of video and audio surveillance would provide physical proof of unauthorized access that could compromise the hardware.

Data Link Layer

The second layer of the OSI model is the data link layer. This is the layer that transports the data between network nodes in a wide area network (WAN) or on the same local area network (LAN) between nodes. The data link layer makes available the procedural and functional means to move data between network devices and could provide the measures to find and possibly correct errors that may occur in the physical layer. The security vulnerabi...

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...on. This is to stop any unauthorized use of the network.


In conclusion, the information covered in this paper shows the different types of security that is associated with each level of the standard OSI model. From the physical layer to the application layer, each layer has a different type of security which must be applied at each layer to prevent any security leaks, spoofing, and infinite loops. These are just a few of the different vulnerabilities that must be protected on a WLAN or LAN.


Reed (November 21, 2003). Applying the OSI seven layer model to Information Security. Retrieved on January 11, 2008, from SANS Institute. Website:

Haden (2008). The OSI Model. Retrieved on January 11, 2008, from Data Network Resource. Website:
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