What is the Security Problem?

The Security Problem

 In many applications, ensuring the security of the computer system is worth considerable effort. Large commercial systems containing payroll or other financial data are inviting targets to thieves. Systems that contain data pertaining to corporate operations may be of interest to unscrupulous competitors. Furthermore, loss of such data, whether by accident or fraud, can seriously impair the ability of the corporation to function.

We discussed mechanisms that the operating system can provide (with appropriate aid from the hardware) that allow users to protect 559 560 Chapter 15 Security their resources, including programs and data. These mechanisms work well only as long as the users conform to the intended use of and access to these resources.

 We say that a system is secure if its resources are used and accessed as intended under all circumstances. Unfortunately, total security cannot be achieved. Nonetheless, we must have mechanisms to make security breaches a rare occurrence, rather than the norm. Security violations (or misuse) of the system can be categorized as intentional (malicious) or accidental. It is easier to protect against accidental misuse than against malicious misuse.

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 For the most part, protection mechanisms are the core of protection from accidents. The following list includes forms of accidental and malicious security violations. We should note that in our discussion of security, we vise the terms intruder and cracker for those attempting to breach security.

 In addition, a threat is the potential for a security violation, stich as the discovery of a vulnerability, whereas an attack is the attempt to break secvirity.

Breach of confidentiality. This type of violation involves unauthorized reading of data (or theft of information). Typically, a breach of confidentiality is the goal of an intruder. Capturing secret data from a system or a data stream, such as credit-card information or identity information for identity theft, can result directly in money for the intruder.

 • Breach of integrity. This violation involves unauthorized modification of data. Such attacks can, for example, result in passing of liability to an innocent party or modification of the source code of an important commercial application.

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• Breach of availability. This violation involves unauthorized destruction of data. Some crackers would rather wreak havoc and gain status or bragging rights than gain financially. Web-site defacement is a common example of this type of security breach.

• Theft of service. This violation involves unauthorized use of resources. For example, an intruder (or intrusion program) may install a daemon on a system that acts as a file server.

 • Denial of service. This violation involves preventing legitimate use of the system. Denial-of-service, or DOS, attacks are sometimes accidental. The original Internet worm turned into a DOS attack when a bug failed to delay its rapid spread. We discuss DOS attacks further in Section 15.3.3. Attackers use several standard methods in their attempts to breach security.

The most common is masquerading, in which one participant in a communication pretends to be someone else (another host or another person). By masquerading, attackers breach authentication, the correctness of identification; they can then can gain access that they would not normally be allowed or escalate their privileges—obtain privileges to which they would not normally be entitled.

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Another common attack is to replay a captured exchange of data. A replay attack consists of the malicious or fraudulent repeat of a valid data transmission. Sometimes the replay comprises the entire attack— for example, in a repeat of a request to transfer money.

But frequently it is done along with message modification, again to escalate privileges. Consider the damage that could be done if a request for authentication had a legitimate 15.1 The Security Problem 561 user's information replaced with an unauthorized user's. Yet another kind of attack is the man-in-the-middle attack, in which an attacker sits in the data flow of a communication, masquerading as the sender to the receiver, and vice versa.

What is the Security Problem?

 In a network communication, a man-in-the-middle attack may be preceded by a session hijacking, in which an active communication session is intercepted. Several attack methods are depicted in Figure 15.1. As we have already suggested, absolute protection of the system from malicious abuse is not possible, but the cost to the perpetrator can be made sufficiently high to deter most intruders. In some cases, such as a denial-ofservice attack, it is preferable to prevent the attack but sufficient to detect the attack so that countermeasures can be taken.

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To protect a system, we must take security measures at four levels:

1. Physical. The site or sites containing the computer systems must be physically secured against armed or surreptitious entry by intruders. Both the machine rooms and the terminals or workstations that have access to the machines must be secured.

 2. Human. Authorizing users must be done carefully to assure that only appropriate users have access to the system. Even authorized users, however, may be "encouraged" to let others use their access (in exchange for a bribe, for example). They may also be tricked into allowing access via social engineering. One type of social-engineering attack is phishing. Here, a legitimate-looking e-mail or web page misleads a user into entering confidential information. Another technique is dumpster diving, a general term for attempting to gather information in order to gain unauthorized access to the computer (by looking through trash, finding phone books, or finding notes containing passwords, for example). These security problems are management and personnel issues, not problems pertaining to operating systems.

 3. Operating system. The system must protect itself from accidental or purposeful security breaches. A runaway process could constitute an accidental denial-of-service attack. A query to a service could reveal passwords. A stack overflow could allow the launching of an unauthorized process. The list of possible breaches is almost endless.

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4. Network. Much computer data in modern systems travels over private leased lines, shared lines like the Internet, wireless connections, or dial-up lines. Intercepting these data could be just as harmful as breaking into a computer; and interruption of communications could constitute a remote denial-of-service attack, diminishing users' use of and trust in the system. Security at the first two levels must be maintained if operating-system security is to be ensured.

 A weakness at a high level of security (physical or human) allows circumvention of strict low-level (operating-system) security measures. Thus, the old adage that a chain is as weak as its weakest link is especially true of system security. All of these aspects must be addressed for security to be maintained. Furthermore, the system must provide protection (Chapter 14) to allow the implementation of security features. Without the ability to authorize users and processes, to control their access, and to log their activities, it would be impossible for an operating system to implement security measures or to run securely.

 Hardware protection features are needed to support an overall protection scheme. For example, a system without memory protection cannot be secure. New hardware features are allowing systems to be made more secure, as we shall discuss. Unfortunately, little in security is straightforward. As intruders exploit security vulnerabilities, security countermeasures are created and deployed. This causes intruders to become more sophisticated in their attacks.

For example, recent security incidents include the use of spyware to provide a conduit for spam through innocent systems (we discuss this practice in 15.2 Program Threats 563 Section 15.2). This cat-and-mouse game is likely to continue, with more security tools needed to block the escalating intruder techniques and activities. In the remainder of this chapter, we address security at the network and operating-system levels.

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Security at the physical and human levels, although important, is for the most part beyond the scope of this text. Security within the operating system and between operating systems is implemented in several ways, ranging from passwords for authentication through guarding against viruses to detecting intrusions. We start with an exploration of security threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ans: Example: The WAFL File System Disk I/O has a huge impact on system performance. As a result, file-system design and implementation command quite a lot of attention from system designers. Some file systems are general purpose, in that they can provide reasonable performance and functionality for a wide variety of file sizes, file types, and I/O loads. Others are optimized for specific tasks in an attempt to provide better performance in those areas than general-purpose file systems. The WAFL file system from Network Appliance is an example of this sort of optimization. WAFL, the ivrite-nin/wherc file layout, is a powerful, elegant file system optimized for random writes. view more..
Ans: RC 4000 The RC 4000 system, like the THE system, was notable primarily for its design concepts. It was designed for the Danish 4000 computer by Regnecentralen, particularly by Brinch-Hansen (Brinch-Hansen [1970], BrindvHansen [1973]). The objective was not to design a batch system, or a time-sharing system, or any other specific system. Rather, the goal was to create an operating-system nucleus, or kernel, on which a complete operating system could be built. Thus, the system structure was layered, and only the lower levels—comprising the kernel—were provided. The kernel supported a collection of concurrent processes. A round-robin CPU scheduler was used. Although processes could share memory, the primary communication and synchronization mechanism was the message system provided by the kernel. view more..
Ans: THE The THE operating system (Dijkstra [1968], McKeag and Wilson [1976]) was designed at the Technische Hogeschool at Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It was a batch system running on a Dutch computer, the EL X8, with 32 KB of 27-bit words. The system was mainly noted for its clean design, particularly its layer structure, and its use of a set of concurrent processes employing semaphores for synchronization. Unlike the XDS-940 system, however, the set of processes in the THE system was static. view more..
Ans: The Security Problem In many applications, ensuring the security of the computer system is worth considerable effort. Large commercial systems containing payroll or other financial data are inviting targets to thieves. Systems that contain data pertaining to corporate operations may be of interest to unscrupulous competitors. Furthermore, loss of such data, whether by accident or fraud, can seriously impair the ability of the corporation to function. view more..
Ans: Networking Windows XP supports both peer-to-peer and client-server networking. It also has facilities for network management. The networking components in Windows XP provide data transport, interprocess communication, file sharing across a network, and the ability to send print jobs to remote printers. view more..
Ans: Compression Because of the size and rate requirements of multimedia systems, multimedia files are often compressed from their original form to a much smaller form. Once a file has been compressed, it takes up less space for storage and can be delivered to a client more quickly. Compression is particularly important when the content is being streamed across a network connection. In discussing file compression, we often refer to the compression ratio, which is the ratio of the original file size to the size of the compressed file. For example, an 800-KB file that is compressed to 100 KB has a compression ratio of 8:1. view more..
Ans: Requirements of Multimedia Kernels As a result of the characteristics described in Section 20.1.2, multimedia applications often require levels of service from the operating system that differ from the requirements of traditional applications, such as word processors, compilers, and spreadsheets. Timing and rate requirements are perhaps the issues of foremost concern, as the playback of audio and video data demands that the data be delivered within a certain deadline and at a continuous, fixed rate. Traditional applications typically do not have such time and rate constraints. view more..
Ans: What Is Multimedia? The term multimedia describes a wide range of applications that are in popular use today. These include audio and video files such as MP3 audio files, DVD movies, and short video clips of movie previews or news stories downloaded over the Internet. Multimedia applications also include live webcasts (broadcast over the World Wide Web) of speeches or sporting events and even live webcams that allow a viewer in Manhattan to observe customers at a cafe in Paris. Multimedia applications need not be either audio or video; rather, a multimedia application often includes a combination of both. For example, a movie may consist of separate audio and video tracks. Nor must multimedia applications be delivered only to desktop personal computers. Increasingly, they are being directed toward smaller devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cellular telephones. view more..
Ans: CPU Scheduling We distinguished between soft real-time systems and hard real-time systems. Soft real-time systems simply give scheduling priority to critical processes. A soft real-time system ensures that a critical process will be given preference over a noncritical process but provides no guarantee as to when the critical process will be scheduled. A typical requirement of continuous media, however, is that data must be delivered to a client by a certain deadline; data that do not arrive by the deadline are unusable. Multimedia systems thus require hard real-time scheduling to ensure that a critical task will be serviced within a guaranteed period of time. Another scheduling issue concerns whether a scheduling algorithm uses static priority or dynamic priority—a distinction view more..
Ans: Disk Scheduling we focused primarily on systems that handle conventional data; for these systems, the scheduling goals are fairness and throughput. As a result, most traditional disk schedulers employ some form of the SCAN (Section 12.4.3) or C-SCAN (Section 12.4.4) algorithm. Continuous-media files, however, have two constraints that conventional data files generally do not have: timing deadlines and rate requirements. These two constraints must be satisfied to preserve QoS guarantees, and diskscheduling algorithms must be optimized for the constraints. Unfortunately, these two constraints are often in conflict. Continuous-media files typically require very high disk-bandwidth rates to satisfy their data-rate requirements. Because disks have relatively low transfer rates and relatively high latency rates, disk schedulers must reduce the latency times to ensure high bandwidth. view more..
Ans: Network Management Perhaps the foremost QoS issue with multimedia systems concerns preserving rate requirements. For example, if a client wishes to view a video compressed with MPEG-1, the quality of service greatly depends on the system's ability to deliver the frames at the required rate.. Our coverage of issues such as CPU- and disk-scheduling algorithms has focused on how these techniques can be used to better meet the quality-ofservice requirements of multimedia applications. However, if the media file is being streamed over a network—perhaps the Internet—issues relating to how the network delivers the multimedia data can also significantly affect how QoS demands are met. In this section, we explore several network issues related to the unique demands of continuous media. Before we proceed, it is worth noting that computer networks in general —and the Internet in particular— currently do not provide network protocols that can ensure the delivery of data with timing requirements. (There are some proprietary protocols—notably those running on Cisco routers—that do allow certain network traffic to be prioritized to meet QoS requirements. view more..
Ans: CTSS The Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) (Corbato et al. [1962]) was designed at MIT as an experimental time-sharing system. It was implemented on an IBM 7090 and eventually supported up to 32 interactive users. The users were provided with a set of interactive commands that allowed them to manipulate files and to compile and run programs through a terminal. view more..
Ans: MULTICS The MULTICS operating system (Corbato and Vyssotsky [1965], Organick [1972]) was designed at MIT as a natural extension of CTSS. CTSS and other early time-sharing systems were so successful that they created an immediate desire to proceed quickly to bigger and better systems. As larger computers became available, the designers of CTSS set out to create a time-sharing utility. Computing service would be provided like electrical power. Large computer systems would be connected by telephone wires to terminals in offices and homes throughout a city. The operating system would be a time-shared system running continuously with a vast file system of shared programs and data. view more..
Ans: IBM OS/360 The longest line of operating-system development is undoubtedly that of IBM computers. The early IBM computers, such as the IBM 7090 and the IBM 7094, are prime examples of the development of common I/O subroutines, followed by development of a resident monitor, privileged instructions, memory protection, and simple batch processing. These systems were developed separately, often by each site independently. As a result, IBM was faced with many different computers, with different languages and different system software. view more..
Ans: Mach The Mach operating system traces its ancestry to the Accent operating system developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (Rashid and Robertson [1981]). Mach's communication system and philosophy are derived from Accent, but many other significant portions of the system (for example, the virtual memory system, task and thread management) were developed from scratch (Rashid [1986], Tevanian et al. [1989], and Accetta et al. [1986]). The Mach scheduler was described in detail by Tevanian et al. [1987a] and Black [1990]. view more..
Ans: History In the mid-1980s, Microsoft and IBM cooperated to develop the OS/2 operating system, which was written in assembly language for single-processor Intel 80286 systems. In 1988, Microsoft decided to make a fresh start and to develop a "new technology" (or NT) portable operating system that supported both the OS/2 and POSIX application-programming interfaces (APIs). view more..
Ans: Access Matrix Our model of protection can be viewed abstractly as a matrix, called an access matrix. The rows of the access matrix represent domains, and the columns represent objects. Each entry in the matrix consists of a set of access rights. Because the column defines objects explicitly, we can omit the object name from the access right. The entry access(/,/) defines the set of operations that a process executing in domain Dj can invoke on object . view more..
Ans: Election Algorithms Many distributed algorithms employ a coordinator process that performs functions needed by the other processes in the system. These functions include enforcing mutual exclusion, maintaining a global wait-for graph for deadlock detection, replacing a lost token, and controlling an input or output device in the system. If the coordinator process fails due to the failure of the site at which it resides, the system can continue only by restarting a new copy of the coordinator on some other site. The algorithms that determine where a new copy of the coordinator should be restarted are called election algorithms. Election algorithms assume that a unique priority number is associated with each active process in the system. For ease of notation, we assume that the priority number of process P, is /. To simplify our discussion, we assume a one-to-one correspondence between processes and sites and thus refer to both as processes. view more..

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