AN Example-Windows XP

Windows XP

Microsoft Windows XP is a general-purpose operating system designed to support a variety of security features and methods. In this section, we examine features that Windows XP uses to perform security functions. For more information and background on Windows XP, see Chapter 22. The Windows XP security model is based on the notion of user accounts.

Windows XP allows the creation of any number of user accounts, which can be grouped in any manner. Access to system objects can then be permitted or denied as desired. Users are identified to the system by a unique security ID. When a user logs on, Windows XP creates a security access token that includes the security ID for the user, security IDs for any groups of which the user is a member, and a list of any special privileges that the user has.

Examples of special privileges include backing up files and directories, shutting down the computer, logging on interactively, and changing the system clock. Every process that Windows XP runs on behalf of a user will receive a copy of the access token. The system uses the security IDs in the access token to permit or deny access to system objects whenever the user, or a process on behalf of the user, attempts to access the object.

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 Authentication of a user account is typically accomplished via a user name and password, although the modular design of Windows XP allows the development of custom authentication packages. For example, a retinal (or eye) scanner might be used to verify that the user is who she says she is. Windows XP uses the idea of a subject to ensure that programs run by a user do not get greater access to the system than the user is authorized to have.

A subject is used to track and manage permissions for each program that a user runs; it is composed of the user's access token and the program acting on behalf of the user. Since Windows XP operates with a client-server model, two classes of subjects are used to control access: simple subjects and server subjects. An example of a simple subject is the typical application program that a user executes after she logs on. The simple subject is assigned a security context based on the security access token of the user.

A server subject is a process implemented as a protected server that uses the security context of the client when acting on the client's behalf. As mentioned in Section 15.7, auditing is a useful security technique. Windows XP has built-in auditing that allows many common security threats to be monitored. Examples include failure auditing for login and logoff events to detect random password break-ins, success auditing for login and logoff events to detect login activity at strange hours, success and failure write-access auditing for executable files to track a virus outbreak, and success and failure auditing for file access to detect access to sensitive files.

 Security attributes of an object in Windows XP are described by a security descriptor. The security descriptor contains the security ID of the owner of the object (who can change the access permissions), a group security ID used only by the POSIX subsystem, a discretionary access-control list that identifies which users or groups are allowed (and which are not allowed) access, and a system access-control list that controls which atiditing messages the system will generate. For example, the security descriptor of the file might have owner avi and this discretionary access-control list:

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• avi—all access

 • group cs—read-write access

• user cliff—no access In addition,

AN Example-Windows XP

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t might have a system access-control list of audit writes by everyone. An access-control list is composed of access-control entries that contain the security ID of the individual and an access mask that defines all possible actions on the object, with a value of AccessAUowed or AccessDenied for each action.

 Files in Windows XP may have the following access types: ReadData, WriteData, AppendData, Execute, ReadExtendedAttribute, WriteExtendedAttribute, ReadAttributes, and WriteAttributes. We can see how this allows a fine degree of control over access to objects. Windows XP classifies objects as either container objects or noncontainer objects.

Container objects, such as directories, can logically contain other objects. By default, when an object is created within a container object, the new object inherits permissions from the parent object. Similarly, if the user copies a file from one directory to a new directory, the file will inherit the permissions of the destination directory. Noncontainer objects inherit no other permissions. Furthermore, if a permission is changed on a directory, the new permissions do not automatically apply to existing files and subdirectories; the user may explicitly apply them if she so desires.

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The system administrator can prohibit printing to a printer on the system for all or part of a day and can use the Windows XP Performance Monitor to help her spot approaching problems. In general, Windows XP does a good job of providing features to help ensure a secure computing environment. Many of these features are not enabled by default, however, which may be one reason for the myriad security breaches on Windows XP systems.

Another reason is the vast number of services Windows XP starts at system boot time and the number of applications that typically are installed on a Windows XP system. For a real multiuser environment, the system administrator should forrnulate a security plan and implement it, using the features that Windows XP provides and other security tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: Stateful Versus Stateless Service There are two approaches for storing server-side information when a client accesses remote files: Either the server tracks each file being accessed byeach client, or it simply provides blocks as they are requested by the client without knowledge of how those blocks are used. In the former case, the service provided is stateful; in the latter case, it is stateless. view more..
Ans: Naming and Transparency Naming is a mapping between logical and physical objects. For instance, users deal with logical data objects represented by file names, whereas the system manipulates physical blocks of data stored on disk tracks. Usually, a user refers to a file by a textual name. view more..
Ans: An Example: Windows XP Microsoft Windows XP is a general-purpose operating system designed to support a variety of security features and methods. In this section, we examine features that Windows XP uses to perform security functions. For more information and background on Windows XP, see Chapter 22. The Windows XP security model is based on the notion of user accounts. Windows XP allows the creation of any number of user accounts, which can be grouped in any manner. Access to system objects can then be permitted or denied as desired. Users are identified to the system by a unique security ID. When a user logs on, Windows XP creates a security access token that includes the security ID for the user, security IDs for any groups of which the user is a member, and a list of any special privileges that the user has. view more..
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Ans: Application I/O interface In this section, we discuss structuring techniques and interfaces for the operating system that enable I/O devices to be treated in a standard, uniform way. We explain, for instance, how an application can open a file on a disk without knowing what kind of disk it is and how new disks and other devices can be added to a computer without disruption of the operating system. Like other complex software-engineering problems, the approach here involves abstraction, encapsulation, and software layering. Specifically we can abstract away the detailed differences in I/O devices by identifying a fewgeneral kinds. Each general kind is accessed through a standardized set of functions—an interface. The differences are encapsulated in kernel modules called device drivers that internally are custom-tailored to each device but that export one of the standard interfaces. view more..
Ans: Transforming I/O Requests to Hardware Operations Earlier, we described the handshaking between a device driver and a device controller, but we did not explain how the operating system connects an application request to a set of network wires or to a specific disk sector. Let's consider the example of reading a file from disk. The application refers to the data by a file name. Within a disk, the file system maps from the file name through the file-system directories to obtain the space allocation of the file. For instance, in MS-DOS, the name maps to a number that indicates an entry in the file-access table, and that table entry tells which disk blocks are allocated to the file. In UNIX, the name maps to an inode number, and the corresponding inode contains the space-allocation information. How is the connection made from the file name to the disk controller (the hardware port address or the memory-mapped controller registers)? First, we consider MS-DOS, a relatively simple operating system. The first part of an MS-DOS file name, preceding the colon, is a string that identifies a specific hardware device. For example, c: is the first part of every file name on the primary hard disk view more..
Ans: STREAMS UNIX System V has an interesting mechanism, called STREAMS, that enables an application to assemble pipelines of driver code dynamically. A stream is a full-duplex connection between a device driver and a user-level process. It consists of a stream head that interfaces with the user process, a driver end that controls the device, and zero or more stream modules between them. view more..
Ans: Performance I/O is a major factor in system performance. It places heavy demands on the CPU to execute device-driver code and to schedule processes fairly and efficiently as they block and unblock. The resulting context switches stress the CPU and its hardware caches. I/O also exposes any inefficiencies in the interrupt-handling mechanisms in the kernel. view more..
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Ans: Structure of the Page Table In this section, we explore some of the most common techniques for structuring the page table. view more..
Ans: Linux History Linux looks and feels much like any other UNIX system; indeed, UNIX compatibility has been a major design goal of the Linux project. However, Linux is much younger than most UNIX systems. Its development began in 1991, when a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, wrote and christened Linux, a small but self-contained kernel for the 80386 processor, the first true 32-bit processor in Intel's range of PC-compatible CPUs. Early in its development, the Linux source code was made available free on the Internet. view more..
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Ans: System and Network Threats Program threats typically use a breakdown in the protection mechanisms of a system to attack programs. In contrast, system and network threats involve the abuse of services and network connections. Sometimes a system and network attack is used to launch a program attack, and vice versa. System and network threats create a situation in which operating-system resources and user files are misused. Here, we discuss some examples of these threats, including worms, port scanning, and denial-of-service attacks. view more..
Ans: User Authentication The discussion of authentication above involves messages and sessions. But what of users? If a system cannot authenticate a user, then authenticating that a message came from that user is pointless. Thus, a major security problem for operating systems is user authentication. The protection system depends on the ability to identify the programs and processes currently executing, which in turn depends on the ability to identify each user of the system. view more..
Ans: Firewalling to Protect Systems and Networks We turn next to the question of how a trusted computer can be connected safely to an untrustworthy network. One solution is the use of a firewall to separate trusted and untrusted systems. A firewall is a computer, appliance, or router that sits between the trusted and the untrusted. A network firewall limits network access between the two security domains and monitors and logs all connections. It can also limit connections based on source or destination address, source or destination port, or direction of the connection. For instance, web servers use HTTP to communicate with web browsers. A firewall therefore may allow only HTTP to pass from all hosts outside the firewall to the web server within the firewall. The Morris Internet worm used the f inger protocol to break into computers, so finger would not be allowed to pass, for example. view more..
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