Computer Security Classifications




Computer-Security Classifications

 The U.S. Department of Defense Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria specify four security classifications in systems: A, B, C, and D. This specification is widely used to determine the security of a facility and to model security solutions, so we explore it here.

The lowest-level classification is division D, or minimal protection. Division D includes only one class and is used for systems that have failed to meet the requirements of any of the other security classes. For instance, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 are in division D. Division C, the next level of security, provides discretionary protection and accountability of users and their actions through the use of audit capabilities.

Division C has two levels: Cl and C2. A Cl-class system incorporates some form of controls that allow users to protect private information and to keep other users from accidentally reading or destroying their data. A Cl environment is one in which cooperating users access data at the same levels of sensitivity. Most versions of UNIX are Cl class.

Computer Security Classifications

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The sum total of all protection systems within a computer system (hardware, software, firmware) that correctly enforce a security policy is known as a trusted computer base (TCB). The TCB of a Cl system controls access between users and files by allowing the user to specify and control sharing of objects by named individuals or defined groups.

In addition, the TCB requires that the users identify themselves before they start any activities that the TCB is expected to mediate. This identification is accomplished via a protected mechanism or password; the TCB protects the authentication data so that they are inaccessible to unauthorized users. A C2-class system adds an individual-level access control to the requirements of a Cl system.

For example, access rights of a file can be specified to the level of a single individual. In addition, the system administrator can selectively audit the actions of any one or more users based on individual identity. The TCB also protects itself from modification of its code or data structures. In addition, no information produced by a prior user is available to another user who accesses a storage object that has been released back to the system.

Some special, secure versions of UNIX have been certified at the C2 level. Division-B mandatory-protection systems have all the properties of a classC2 system; in addition, they attach a sensitivity label to each object. The Bl-class TCB maintains the security label of each object in the system; the label is used for decisions pertaining to mandatory access control.

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 For example, a user at the confidential level could not access a file at the more sensitive secret level. The TCB also denotes the sensitivity level at the top and bottom of each page of any human-readable output. In addition to the normal user-namepassword authentication information, the TCB also maintains the clearance and authorizations of individual users and will support at least two levels of security. These levels are hierarchical, so that a user may access any objects that carry sensitivity labels equal to or lower than his security clearance.

For example, a secret-level user could access a file at the confidential level in the absence of other access controls. Processes are also isolated through the use of distinct address spaces. A B2-class system extends the sensitivity labels to each system resource, such as storage objects.

Physical devices are assigned minimum and maximum security levels that the system uses to enforce constraints imposed by the physical environments in which the devices are located. In addition, a B2 system supports covert channels and the auditing of events that could lead to the exploitation of a covert channel. A B3-class system allows the creation of access-control lists that denote users or groups not granted access to a given named object. The TCB also contains a mechanism to monitor events that may indicate a violation .

 The mechanism notifies the security administrator aid, if necessary, terminates the event in the least disruptive manner. The highest-level classification is division A. Architecturally, a class-Al system is functionally equivalent to a B3 system, but it uses formal design specifications and verification techniques, granting a high degree of assurance that the TCB has been implemented correctly. A system beyond class Al might be designed and developed in a trusted facility by trusted personnel.

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The use of a TCB merely ensures that the system can enforce aspects of a security policy; the TCB does not specify what the policy should be. Typically, a given computing environment develops a security policy for certification and has the plan accredited by a security agency, such as the National Computer Security Center. Certain computing environments may require other certification, such as that supplied by TEMPEST, which guards against electronic eavesdropping. For example, a TEMPEST-certified system has terminals that are shielded to prevent electromagnetic fields from escaping. This shielding ensures that equipment outside the room or building where the terminal is housed cannot detect what information is being displayed by the terminal.



Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: Stateful Versus Stateless Service There are two approaches for storing server-side information when a client accesses remote files: Either the server tracks each file being accessed byeach client, or it simply provides blocks as they are requested by the client without knowledge of how those blocks are used. In the former case, the service provided is stateful; in the latter case, it is stateless. view more..
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Ans: Naming and Transparency Naming is a mapping between logical and physical objects. For instance, users deal with logical data objects represented by file names, whereas the system manipulates physical blocks of data stored on disk tracks. Usually, a user refers to a file by a textual name. view more..
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Ans: Communication Protocols When we are designing a communication network, we must deal with the inherent complexity of coordinating asynchronous operations communicating in a potentially slow and error-prone environment. In addition, the systems on the network must agree on a protocol or a set of protocols for determining host names, locating hosts on the network, establishing connections, and so on. view more..
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Ans: Computer-Security Classifications The U.S. Department of Defense Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria specify four security classifications in systems: A, B, C, and D. This specification is widely used to determine the security of a facility and to model security solutions, so we explore it here. The lowest-level classification is division D, or minimal protection. Division D includes only one class and is used for systems that have failed to meet the requirements of any of the other security classes. For instance, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 are in division D. Division C, the next level of security, provides discretionary protection and accountability of users and their actions through the use of audit capabilities. view more..
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Ans: An Example: Windows XP Microsoft Windows XP is a general-purpose operating system designed to support a variety of security features and methods. In this section, we examine features that Windows XP uses to perform security functions. For more information and background on Windows XP, see Chapter 22. The Windows XP security model is based on the notion of user accounts. Windows XP allows the creation of any number of user accounts, which can be grouped in any manner. Access to system objects can then be permitted or denied as desired. Users are identified to the system by a unique security ID. When a user logs on, Windows XP creates a security access token that includes the security ID for the user, security IDs for any groups of which the user is a member, and a list of any special privileges that the user has. view more..
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Ans: An Example: Networking We now return to the name-resolution issue raised in Section 16.5.1 and examine its operation with respect to the TCP/IP protocol stack on the Internet. We consider the processing needed to transfer a packet between hosts on different Ethernet networks. In a TCP/IP network, every host has a name and an associated 32-bit Internet number (or host-id). view more..
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Ans: Application I/O interface In this section, we discuss structuring techniques and interfaces for the operating system that enable I/O devices to be treated in a standard, uniform way. We explain, for instance, how an application can open a file on a disk without knowing what kind of disk it is and how new disks and other devices can be added to a computer without disruption of the operating system. Like other complex software-engineering problems, the approach here involves abstraction, encapsulation, and software layering. Specifically we can abstract away the detailed differences in I/O devices by identifying a fewgeneral kinds. Each general kind is accessed through a standardized set of functions—an interface. The differences are encapsulated in kernel modules called device drivers that internally are custom-tailored to each device but that export one of the standard interfaces. view more..
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Ans: Transforming I/O Requests to Hardware Operations Earlier, we described the handshaking between a device driver and a device controller, but we did not explain how the operating system connects an application request to a set of network wires or to a specific disk sector. Let's consider the example of reading a file from disk. The application refers to the data by a file name. Within a disk, the file system maps from the file name through the file-system directories to obtain the space allocation of the file. For instance, in MS-DOS, the name maps to a number that indicates an entry in the file-access table, and that table entry tells which disk blocks are allocated to the file. In UNIX, the name maps to an inode number, and the corresponding inode contains the space-allocation information. How is the connection made from the file name to the disk controller (the hardware port address or the memory-mapped controller registers)? First, we consider MS-DOS, a relatively simple operating system. The first part of an MS-DOS file name, preceding the colon, is a string that identifies a specific hardware device. For example, c: is the first part of every file name on the primary hard disk view more..
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Ans: STREAMS UNIX System V has an interesting mechanism, called STREAMS, that enables an application to assemble pipelines of driver code dynamically. A stream is a full-duplex connection between a device driver and a user-level process. It consists of a stream head that interfaces with the user process, a driver end that controls the device, and zero or more stream modules between them. view more..
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Ans: Performance I/O is a major factor in system performance. It places heavy demands on the CPU to execute device-driver code and to schedule processes fairly and efficiently as they block and unblock. The resulting context switches stress the CPU and its hardware caches. I/O also exposes any inefficiencies in the interrupt-handling mechanisms in the kernel. view more..
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Ans: Multiple-Processor Scheduling Our discussion thus far has focused on the problems of scheduling the CPU in a system with a single processor. If multiple CPUs are available, load sharing becomes possible; however, the scheduling problem becomes correspondingly more complex. Many possibilities have been tried; and as we saw with singleprocessor CPU scheduling, there is no one best solution. Here, we discuss several concerns in multiprocessor scheduling. We concentrate on systems in which the processors are identical—homogeneous—in terms of their functionality; we can then use any available processor to run any process in the queue. (Note, however, that even with homogeneous multiprocessors, there are sometimes limitations on scheduling. Consider a system with an I/O device attached to a private bus of one processor. view more..
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Ans: Structure of the Page Table In this section, we explore some of the most common techniques for structuring the page table. view more..
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Ans: Linux History Linux looks and feels much like any other UNIX system; indeed, UNIX compatibility has been a major design goal of the Linux project. However, Linux is much younger than most UNIX systems. Its development began in 1991, when a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, wrote and christened Linux, a small but self-contained kernel for the 80386 processor, the first true 32-bit processor in Intel's range of PC-compatible CPUs. Early in its development, the Linux source code was made available free on the Internet. view more..
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Ans: An Example: CineBlltz The CineBlitz multimedia storage server is a high-performance media server that supports both continuous media with rate requirements (such as video and audio) and conventional data with no associated rate requirements (such as text and images). CineBlitz refers to clients with rate requirements as realtime clients, whereas non-real-time clients have no rate constraints. CineBlitz guarantees to meet the rate requirements of real-time clients by implementing an admission controller, admitting a client only if there are sufficient resources to allow data retrieval at the required rate. In this section, we explore the CineBlitz disk-scheduling and admission-control algorithms. view more..
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Ans: Example: The Intel Pentium Both paging and segmentation have advantages and disadvantages. In fact, some architectures provide both. In this section, we discuss the Intel Pentium architecture, which supports both pure segmentation and segmentation with paging. We do not give a complete description of the memory-management structure of the Pentium in this text. view more..
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Ans: System and Network Threats Program threats typically use a breakdown in the protection mechanisms of a system to attack programs. In contrast, system and network threats involve the abuse of services and network connections. Sometimes a system and network attack is used to launch a program attack, and vice versa. System and network threats create a situation in which operating-system resources and user files are misused. Here, we discuss some examples of these threats, including worms, port scanning, and denial-of-service attacks. view more..
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Ans: User Authentication The discussion of authentication above involves messages and sessions. But what of users? If a system cannot authenticate a user, then authenticating that a message came from that user is pointless. Thus, a major security problem for operating systems is user authentication. The protection system depends on the ability to identify the programs and processes currently executing, which in turn depends on the ability to identify each user of the system. view more..
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Ans: Firewalling to Protect Systems and Networks We turn next to the question of how a trusted computer can be connected safely to an untrustworthy network. One solution is the use of a firewall to separate trusted and untrusted systems. A firewall is a computer, appliance, or router that sits between the trusted and the untrusted. A network firewall limits network access between the two security domains and monitors and logs all connections. It can also limit connections based on source or destination address, source or destination port, or direction of the connection. For instance, web servers use HTTP to communicate with web browsers. A firewall therefore may allow only HTTP to pass from all hosts outside the firewall to the web server within the firewall. The Morris Internet worm used the f inger protocol to break into computers, so finger would not be allowed to pass, for example. view more..




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