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Building Systems That Enforce Measurable Security Goals

Speaker  Trent Jaeger

Affiliation  Penn State University

Host  Weidong Cui

Duration  01:28:32

Date recorded  16 September 2009

In this talk, I will argue for an approach for building and deploying systems that enforce measurable security goals. Historically, the security community has developed "ideal" goals for security, but conventional systems are not built to satisfy such goals, leading to vulnerabilities. However, we find that building conventional systems to ideal security goals is not a practical option. Ideal security requires heavyweight tasks, such as complete formal assurance, and conventional systems depend on security enforcement in too many programs to make assurance cost-effective. As an alternative, we propose an approach where we use ideal goals as a means to gain a comprehensive understanding of which programs we depend upon for security enforcement and the risks that result from such enforcement. The result is a model that enables comprehensive evaluation of security goals and treatment of risks, once identified. In this talk, I will discuss the motivation for our approach in the development of a practical integrity model, called CW-Lite integrity. Then, I will describe two further experiments. The first examines whether user-level processes can be automatically deployed in a manner in which correct enforcement of system policy can be verified. The second examines whether virtual machine systems can be deployed in a manner in which integrity goals can be determined and verified. In these experiments, we leverage the mandatory access control enforcement of the Linux and Xen, although the talk will focus on the conceptual problems in obtaining a comprehensive view of security in conventional systems. The result of these experiments is that by making security goals measurable in conventional systems a comprehensive view of security can be obtained that enables the solution of key problems in building and deploying secure systems.

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