AbstractThe optical burst switching (OBS) is a promising technology that could meet the fast growing network demand. They are featured with the ability to meet the bandwidth requirement of applications that demand intensive bandwidth. OBS proves to be a satisfactory technology to tackle the huge bandwidth constraints, but suffers from security vulnerabilities. The objective of this proposed work is to design a faster and efficient burst header authentication algorithm for core nodes. There are two important key features in this work, viz., header encryption and authentication. Since the burst header is an important in optical burst switched network, it has to be encrypted; otherwise it is be prone to attack. The proposed MD5&RC4-4S based burst header authentication algorithm runs 20.75 ns faster than the conventional algorithms. The modification suggested in the proposed RC4-4S algorithm gives a better security and solves the correlation problems between the publicly known outputs during key generation phase. The modified MD5 recommended in this work provides 7.81 % better avalanche effect than the conventional algorithm. The device utilization result also shows the suitability of the proposed algorithm for header authentication in real time applications.