Abstract In this paper an alternative framework to the OSI security model is presented. An identification of the principles governing security function assignment inside the OSI communication layers is given, followed by an analysis of the advantages of the security reference model. Also the IPsec and Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) architectures are briefly presented, illustrating their features and usages. The disadvantages and implementation pitfalls of the presented models are then brought forward, in relation to performance and security issues. The Future Core Networks System (FCNS) is presented, which constitutes the proposed reference architecture. The features of the FCNS are given, together with an analysis of the advantages our proposal exhibits with respect to the protocols presented, followed by the software implementation of our model. Results from simulations show that FCNS offers an improvement in throughput of at least 10% in comparison with currently used communication protocol stack architectures. These throughput benefits are achieved even when the full security measures of FCNS are in operation. Finally, we present the FCNS applicability in current network systems and reveal future work.