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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

2006 USENIX Annual Technical Conference Abstract

Pp. 249–254 of the Proceedings

Privacy Analysis for Data Sharing in *nix Systems

Aameek Singh, Ling Liu, and Mustaque Ahamad, Georgia Institute of Technology


Linux and its various flavors (together called *nix) are growing in mainstream popularity and many enterprise infrastructures now are based on *nix platforms. An important component of these systems is the ingrained multi-user support that lets users share data with each other. In this paper, we analyze *nix systems and identify an urgent need for better privacy support in their data sharing mechanisms. In one of our studies it was possible to access over 84 GB of private data at one organization of 836 users, including over 300,000 emails and 579 passwords to financial and other private services websites. The most surprising aspect was the extremely low level of sophistication of the attack. The attack uses no technical vulnerabilities, rather inadequacies of *nix access control combined with user/application's privacy-indifferent behavior.
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Last changed: 25 Sept. 2006 ch