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Re: confinement with endogenous verification ??

From: Brian Brunswick
Subject: Re: confinement with endogenous verification ??
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005 02:00:49 +0100

On 27/10/05, Jonathan S. Shapiro <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Thu, 2005-10-27 at 00:35 +0100, Brian Brunswick wrote:
> > called "endogenous" verification, in EROS and others, and potentially
> Close, but not quite. It is possible to compute whether a newly
> instantiated subsystem will be confined at the time of instantiation,
> and it is possible for the requester (the program requesting that the
> subsystem be instantiated) to learn whether this will be so.

So is this confinement in some sense relative to assumptions about
additional access? The program could then give the subsystem
additional capabilities and change that? But nothing else can because
it hasn't the capabilities to the new subsystem? (/Can/ capabilties be
sent over IPC channels in EROS, or only at creation time?)

> The space bank authentication is used EVERY TIME we create a process. It
> is utterly impossible to build a program that makes any guarantees about
> behavior at all if it does not know that it has exclusive access to its
> own storage. In the discussion, I described the protection of encryption

This is protection even against the thing requesting the creator of
the subsystem - only the instantiator has the access, thereby
protecting the new thing if is has special capabilities?

BTW, this kind of thing seems awfully much like priviledge escalation
to me - the much derided setuid applications! But perhaps not.... We
might think of an instantiator with special priviledges as nothing
more than a server that spawns a new thread to serve each
request....the extra threads allow additional reasoning about
isolation of the requests:-)

> The confinement check is not used as much. The shell does this check all
> the time, but most other programs do not bother except in special
> circumstances, such as execution of untrusted code. This is true partly
> because the test is transitive, so the check performed by the shell is
> sufficient to cover an entire program.

Presumably it can't apply to any network accessing program at all. And
confinement is relative - we can't know what kinds of secrets are
actually present in the (small) set of files being handed to a
program.... But then if there is no outward channel.... I guess it
might come down to covert communication channels then. Real time

> confinement becomes a design consideration, programmers begin to ask how
> to design their programs in ways that permit them to be confined. This

Minimum privs I suppose. Lots of good effects of course

> What would it be worth to you to be able to run an email agent that ran
> code provided by some arbitrary, hostile third party, and **never have
> to worry** about what it did to your system?

My life's ambition:-) Well one of them anyway. See elsewhere.

> > We might think of it as akin to so called "introspection" that is
> > possible in the run-time systems of certain languages (java), and used
> > to support dynamic loading and configuration of system components.
> Perhaps, except that the constructor check is performed statically, and
> introspection is generally very problematic if security is a design
> goal.

Eh? I'm confused now. I thought it was dynamic. Or is it a
verification of the code of the constructor? I guess I'm trying to
become convinced of the utility of such a check as a dynamic thing,
rather than just as some (automated) reasoning about code correctness.
(like a statically typed language.) Duh... Ogg say automated reasoning

What about verification of other sorts of things, space and time
constraints, result invariants? Perhaps these are more naturally
checked dynamically though.


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