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7th USENIX Security Symposium, 1998    [Technical Program]

Pp. 143–158 of the Proceedings
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Operating System Protection for Fine-Grained Programs


IBM T. J. Watson Research Center
Hawthorne, NY 10532
Emails:{jaegert tex2html_wrap_inline505 jochen tex2html_wrap_inline505}

December 9, 1997


We present an operating system-level security model for controlling fine-grained programs, such as downloaded executable content, and compare this security model's implementation to that of language-based security models. Language-based security has well-known limitations, such as the lack of complete mediation (e.g., for compiled programs or race condition attacks) and faulty self-protection (effective security is unproven). Operating system-level models are capable of complete mediation and self-protection, but some researchers argue that operating system-level security models are unlikely to supplant such language-based models because they lack portability and performance. In this paper, we detail an operating system-level security model built on the Lava Nucleus, a minimal, fast tex2html_wrap_inline509 -kernel operating system. We show how it can enforce security requirements for fine-grained programs and show that its performance overhead (with the additional security) can be virtually negligible when compared to language-based models. Given the sufficient performance and security, the portability issue should become moot because other vendors will have to meet the higher security and performance expectations of their customers.

Trent Jaeger
Tue Dec 9 10:40:18 EST 1997

This paper was originally published in the Proceedings of the 7th USENIX Security Symposium, January 26-29, 1998, San Antonio, Texas
Last changed: 12 April 2002 aw
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