I am studying for the CCNA and I touched on the topic of star (client-server) vs mesh (p2p) networks. I read in some articles that one of the advantages of a mesh network is the level security and privacy it provides, but did not mention the same for the star networks. It was more of a stated fact, rather than an explanation, so I was wondering if one of these network topologies is really less secure than the other.

Could someone please explain if there is in fact a more secure/private network topology. If the answer is yes, please give some reasoning as to what makes each one more/less secure.

EDIT: My thoughts about security/privacy is regarding what packets can be seen across the network. In a star topology, packets are sent through the router, and you can sniff these packets using wireshark even if they are not intended for your machine.

Using a mesh topology, is data still being broadcasted for all machines to see? Here is a situation: there are 3 nodes in this mesh network. Each node has a direct connection to eachother. My machine is node 1. Node 2 wants to send information to node 3. Instead of going through the router, and the packets being visible to the whole network like in a star setup, can node 2 send information privately to node 3, without my machine being able to see what information was sent over wireshark? Hope this is a better, more generic example.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Steffen Ullrich, Philipp, wireghoul, Xander, AJ Henderson Jul 25 '17 at 0:25

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    secure against what? – Steffen Ullrich Jul 24 '17 at 21:03
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    It will depend on what you want to be secure from. Whenever you are considering whether something is 'secure' you first have to define what the threats are that you are securing against. – schroeder Jul 24 '17 at 21:03
  • I just edited the question to include an example. Let me know if you need more detail! – Michael Jul 24 '17 at 21:11
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    @Michael: for spreading a worm it is only relevant if the source system can detect and reach the target system which does not really depend on star vs. mesh architecture. And, while the example refines the question a bit it is only an example and does not actually limit what you really mean with "more secure", even if this was the only scenario you could think of (there are way more ways one system could differ in security from another). If you would restrict the question to only this example instead it could be answerable, without this restriction it would be still to broad and unclear. – Steffen Ullrich Jul 24 '17 at 21:26
  • @SteffenUllrich Your response makes sense. I just read the information online and was wondering if there were any major points that I may have missed, I didn't know it would come down to specific examples, thanks again. – Michael Jul 24 '17 at 21:45

Some ideas:

  1. For monitoring a star network might be more convenient because it is sufficient to monitor the central nodes.
  2. For damage mitigation a mesh network might be better because there is no single point of failure like in a star.
  3. For privacy a mesh network might be better because usually in these all clients are assumed to be equal so there is no server to authenticate clients against and clients might just be replaced by seemingly different clients.

The statement in your material was probably made with some ideas about what mesh and star networks are used for in the mind. If the precise definition of star and mesh networks supports these claims depends on the definitions you are using.

I hope my examples give you an idea why people might have made these claims, though.

  • Mesh networks also increase privacy because they don't route every packet through a central monitoring point. But they may reduce security if there is no centralized ID authority, and each node establishes and maintains its own security; if the weakest link is compromised, all nodes may fall. – John Deters Jul 24 '17 at 21:53
  • Good point! But why would all nodes fall if one is compromised if they all maintain their own security? – Elias Jul 24 '17 at 22:00
  • They could all be sharing common credentials so each can authenticate to any of the mesh nodes they contact. A fully compromised node could yield the credentials for contacting whatever potential neighbors it would communicate with. – John Deters Jul 25 '17 at 4:12
  • Ah, indeed you're talking about some kind of centrally provisioned system. Good point! I was thinking more in terms of p2p accessible for anyone. – Elias Jul 25 '17 at 8:27
  • @Elias take a look at my question I edited it again to include an actual example – Michael Jul 25 '17 at 20:31

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