Sealing OS Processes to Improve Dependability and Safety

On most modern operating systems, a process is a hardware-protected abstraction for executing potentially mutable code and data. Common features of processes include: dynamic code loading, dynamic code generation, access to cross-process shared memory, and a universal API.

This paper argues that many of the dependability and security weaknesses of modern systems are exacerbated by this open process architecture. Moreover, this architecture impairs the ability of tools to analyze code statically, to improve its performance or dependability. By contrast, a sealed process architecture prohibits dynamic code loading, prohibits self-modifying code, prohibits shared memory, and replaces a universal API with a process-limited API. This paper describes an implementation of a sealed process architecture in the Singularity operating system, discusses its merits, and evaluates its impact. Among the benefits are: improved static program analysis, strong security guarantees, elimination of OS redundancies found in language runtimes such as the JVM and CLR, and better software engineering.

EuroSys2007_SealedProcesses.pdf
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In  Proceedings of the European Conference on Computer Systems (EuroSys)

Publisher  Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
Copyright © 2007 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept, ACM Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or permissions@acm.org. The definitive version of this paper can be found at ACM’s Digital Library --http://www.acm.org/dl/.

Details

TypeInproceedings
AddressLisbon, Portugal

Previous Versions

Galen C. Hunt, Mark Aiken, Paul Barham, Manuel Fahndrich, Chris Hawblitzel, Orion Hodson, James R. Larus, Steven Levi, Nick Murphy, Bjarne Steensgaard, David Tarditi, Ted Wobber, and Brian D. Zill. Sealing OS Processes to Improve Dependability and Security, April 2006.

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