HiStar offers a minimalistic kernel that exposes information flow including Six objects in the kernel,Each object having a label ,Information flow controlled between object sand all of Unix implemented on top of these few abstractions.

1.Making Information Flow Explicit in HiStar Lecture 25, cs262a Ion Stoica & Ali Ghodsi UC Berkeley April 23, 2018

2.Today’s Paper Making Information Flow Explicit in HiStar , Nickolai Zeldovich , Silas Boyd- Wickizer , Eddie Kohler, and David Mazières https:// people.csail.mit.edu/nickolai/papers/zeldovich-histar.pdf

3.Motivation Security vulnerabilities discovered in all kinds of apps Buffer overflows, format string issues, SQL injection, JS injection, temp file races, integer overflows Security implemented at many different levels Web app implements its own logic, e.g. private Facebook posts Web servers implement access to different directories (. htaccess ) OS implements its own ACLs, users, SU, … Hardware implements security, page tables, etc Bugs could exist anywhere, high level info can be leaked at any level! Meltdown leaking secret webapp info to another tenant

4.Main idea Small kernel (20k LoC) that controls information flow Don’t care about bugs in programs, make sure kernel isn’t buggy Control the information flow between potentially buggy programs Seen this idea before? Example Antivirus needs to scan all your files. It will see confidential information. If the AV code is malicious, it can communicate that code out over the Internet Kernel can simply now allow AV to send info anywhere

5.Military research in the 70s: Bell LaPadula Bell Lapadula Preserve confidentiality Subjects reading/writing Objects Subjects and Objects given a level, e.g. 1 … 4 (unclassified … top secret) No read up Subject at level i cannot read object at level j when i < j e .g. anonymous user reading root’s files (could leak / etc / passwd ) No write down Subject at level i cannot write object at level j when i > j e .g. root writing to /user/anonymous (could leak secret info to anonymous)

6.Military research in the 70s: Biba Biba Preserve integrity / trustworthiness Who would you trust when receiving information? No write up Subject at level i cannot write object at level j when i < j Cannot authoritatively provide information to the upper levels No read down Subject at level i cannot read object at level j when i > j Cannot trust information from lower levels

7.Military Operating Systems Early OS:s implemented these ideas for file systems Policies on how top secret or classified information could be handled Reading and writing of files were protected How is it different from today’s file systems and their security? Application level concepts wouldn’t get these benefits OS doesn’t know about the app data HiStar exposes these security mechanisms to all apps Information Flow as basic OS mechanisms exposed to apps! Can implement Bell Lapadula and Biba in any app!

8.Information Flow Control (IFC) How should we track information flow? Associate a Label with the data Label follows data when it moves around Labels determine what you can do with the data e .g. SSN cannot be sent to any other computer

9.Example: Virus Scanner AV Scanner/Helper Read virus DB (signatures) Read all files Read/write tmp files Write to screen scan status Update daemon Read/write data to Internet to fetch latest virus DB Write to the virus DB to update it Can we protect files from corruption and leakage to outside?

10.Problems today Any process can get hacked Ways in leaks could happen? Send private data to Internet Prevent AV scanner to communicate with the Internet!

11.Problems today Any process can get hacked Ways in leaks could happen? Collude with Update DM Update DM needs Inet Prevent IPC too!

12.Problems today Any process can get hacked Ways in leaks could happen? AV write data to tmp files Update DM read tmp files

13.Problems today OS today have protection File systems with RBAC Process protection Memory protection What’s the problem? They ignore information flow Process P can read a secret file it has access to and write it to a public file P does so either maliciously or by getting hacked, e.g. buffer overflow OS:s allow violating Bell Lapadula (no write down violated)

14.Information Flow to save us! Information Flow Solution Files & processes colored Label private stuff RED Label public stuff GREEN Enforce the arrows in the chart

15.Kernels Objects Six kernel objects Segment (data itself), array of bytes Thread Address space Device (network) Gate (IPC)* Container (“directory”), ever kernel object inside a container All of Unix implemented on top of the 6 objects!

16.Information Flow: Labels & Categories Every Kernel Object has a label Label tells you the security property of the information inside an object Since an object (e.g. Thread) might contain multiple types of information, labels contain multiple Categories (think of a category as a color ) HiStar will only allow kernel objects to interact (information to flow) if two kernel objects have “consistent” labels, i.e. implement Bell Lapadula /Biba Segment (Data Array) Thread Segment (Data Array)

17.Antivirus example fixed with information flow Great. But how do we get the AV result to the terminal screen? Process creating a category (color) owns it: it can declassify it and bypass restrictions on that category. Small 140 line wrapper script extracts the AV output and prints it ?

18.AV explained in full Colors (categories) have levels, own, 0 lowest, 1 default, 4 highest Bob marks all User Data as color {b w 0,b r 3,1}, i.e. color bob write =0, bob read = 3 , all other colors = 1 w rap creates and owns v (virus) category, and owns read category (can downgrade and bypass v and r restrictions) w rap spawns virus scanner and helper with v level 3, / tmp with v level 3 AV/helper cannot communicate with network, update daemon, because they don’t have color v=3, it can write secrets to / tmp (but others cannot read it) AV/helper cannot corrupt files, because they don’t have b w permission A ll communication through trusted 140 line wrap

19.Unix vs IFC How is this different from Unix? We just have to be careful with permissions, right? No, HiStar tracks information flow ! Any information flow out of AV gets tainted as special virus permission v3 If you don’t have v3, AV scanner cannot leak to you. No matter how buggy AV/Helper is, no matter how many buffer overflows or malicious code snippets it has! In Unix, AV scanner might by mistake leak information to a public file, screen, or network

20.Conclusion Current OSs have too many aspects that need to be secured Sloppy code in many places lead to vulnerabilities HiStar offers a minimalistic kernel that exposes information flow Six objects in the kernel Each object has a label (categories/colors) Information flow controlled between objects All of Unix implemented on top of these few abstractions New applications can implement security using these abstractions

21.Zooming out Radically different approach to OSs. DAC vs MAC Attacks the problem with a small microkernel Everything else implemented on top of it All future applications benefit from the security of HiStar Great bold paper ! Realistic implementation. Why didn’t it have more impact?