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Information flow control for standard OS abstractions

By Maxwell Krohn, Alexander Yip, Micah Brodsky, Natan Cliffer, M. Frans, Kaashoek Eddie and Kohler Robert Morris

Abstract

Decentralized Information Flow Control (DIFC) [24] is an approach to security that allows application writers to control how data flows between the pieces of an application and the outside world. As applied to privacy, DIFC allows untrusted software to compute with private data while trusted security code controls the release of that data. As applied to integrity, DIFC allows trusted code to protect untrusted software from unexpected malicious inputs. In either case, only bugs in the trusted code, which tends to be small and isolated, can lead to security violations. We present Flume, a new DIFC model and system that applies at the granularity of operating system processes and standard OS abstractions (e.g., pipes and file descriptors). Flume eases DIFC’s use in existing applications and allows safe interaction between conventional and DIFC-aware processes. Flume runs as a user-level reference monitor on Linux. A process confined by Flume cannot perform most system calls directly; instead, an interposition layer replaces system calls with IPC to the reference monitor, which enforces data flow policies and performs safe operations on the process’s behalf. We ported a complex Web application (MoinMoin wiki) to Flume, changing only 2 % of the original code. The Flume version is roughly 30–40 % slower due to overheads in our current implementation but supports additional security policies impossible without DIFC. Categories and Subject Descriptors

Topics: D.4.6 [Operating Systems, Security and Protection—Information flow controls, Access controls, D.4.7 [Operating Systems, Organization and Design, C.5.5 [Computer System Implementation, Servers General Terms, Security, Design, Performance Keywords, distributed information flow control, DIFC, endpoints, reference monitor, system call interposition
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.134.1185
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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