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What is Non-Repudiation in Network Security?

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Non-repudiation in network security is the ability to prevent a denial in an electronic message or transaction. In this lesson, you'll learn more about non-repudiation tools.

Affixing Your Signature

If you think about it, we affix our signature, giving our approval or consent to many things throughout the course of our lives: personal checks, lease agreements, contracts, letters and store receipts, among other things.

Non-repudiation is the assurance an event cannot be denied.
Non-repudiation is the assurance an event cannot be denied.

As technology advances and improves, more and more methods of correspondence, contracts and business transactions are being conducted digitally, as opposed to the days of old when all business was conducted face-to-face. In fact, Forrester Research concludes that $780 billion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions will be conducted by individuals through electronic means.

Just because the landscape of how these deals are being done is changing, does not mean the significance of the document or experience is lessened. There will always be a need to ensure the authenticity and legitimacy of the transaction taking place over electronic channels. That's where network security and non-repudiation come into play.

What is Network Security?

Network security, as a whole, refers to all attempts to protect the usability, integrity, and safety of your electronic data and network. Network security done right should target and work to eliminate threats such as misuse, malfunction, modification or destruction of a computer network and its resources.

As such, network security is generally responsible for ensuring that electronic communications are valid and authentic between two parties. Enter the world of non-repudiation.

How Does Non-Repudiation Factor In?

To repudiate means to deny or contest something. Therefore, non-repudiation must be the ability to ensure that someone cannot deny or contest that thing. This is usually seen in electronic communications where one party cannot be confirmed as the recipient or denies seeing or signing a contract or document. Non-repudiation means putting measures in place that will prevent one party from denying they received or agreed to a transaction.

In some transactions, non-repudiation is put into practice in one of the following ways:

  • By sending mail through a certified option, which requires the recipient to acknowledge receipt through their physical presence and signature.
  • Through the use of a witness or notary public, whose job it is to verify identity and affix their name to the contract or transaction.
  • By requesting a read receipt when sending an email, which shows you that the document was opened and read by the recipient.

Non-repudiation in network security goes beyond a read receipt, however. It means measures have been put into place to assure that if the recipient and signer is Jim, that Jim is really the one who received the message and agreed to the transaction. Here are some popular tools for non-repudiation:

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