19th Large Installation System Administration ConferenceAbstract
Pp. 922 of the Proceedings
Awarded Best Student Paper!
Toward an Automated Vulnerability Comparison of Open Source IMAP Servers
Chaos Golubitsky, Carnegie Mellon University
The attack surface concept provides a means of discussing the susceptibility of software to as-yet-unknown attacks. A system's attack surface encompasses the methods the system makes available to an attacker, and the system resources which can be used to further an attack. A measurement of the size of the attack surface could be used to compare the security of multiple systems which perform the same function.
The Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) has been in existence for over a decade. Relative to HTTP or SMTP, IMAP is a niche protocol, but IMAP servers are widely deployed nonetheless. There are three popular open source UNIX IMAP serversUW-IMAP, Cyrus, and Courier-IMAPand there has not been a formal security comparison between them.
In this paper, I use attack surfaces to compare the relative security risks posed by these three products. I undertake this evaluation in service of two complementary goals: to provide an honest examination of the security postures and risks of the three servers, and to advance the study of attack surfaces by performing an automated attack surface measurement using a methodology based on counting entry and exit points in the code.
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