Lesson 9: Multics

Report
Secure Operating Systems
Lesson 9: Multics
Where are we?
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We now know all the background… so it’s
time to figure out why Dr. Ford likes Multics
so very much
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Multics is pretty much the poster child for
“proper” system design
And we did it years ago
A Little History: 1963
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Cuba transactions made illegal
Debut of Iron Man!!!
Beatles release their first album…
First James Bond movie
UCF founded
ZIP codes introduced
IEEE founded, ASCII introduced
Kevin Mitnick born ;)
In the Midst…
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The Multics project begins
The move from batch systems to timesharing
Released as a commercial project in 1973…
that’s a 10 year development cycle
Processes
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We’re very comfortable with this idea, but it
was newer then
Processes are the things that execute stuff in
Multics
All the things the process accesses are stored
as “segments”
The “protection domain” determines the
segments a process can access
Segments
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These are created hierarchically
This became the roadmap to things like the
Unix file system
The process has a descriptor segment which
contains a set of segment descriptor words
(SDWs) that refer to all the segments the
process can access directly
Security
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Three primary parts: the supervisor,
protection rings, and SDWs
The supervisor is the ultimate arbiter – it
decides if a process can have a SDW
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This is isolated from other processes by
protection rings (64 possible)
The basic idea was to protect the supervisor from
unauthorized changes
Segment Access Control
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Simple ACL
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Segments: read, write, execute
Directories: status, modify, append
However. The SDW also includes rings and
brackets – this can be a little tricky
To grant access, the ACL and Access brackets
must both allow…
Rings/Brackets
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Imagine we have code running in Ring r.
Access brackets define access – range of rings
is r1, r2 where r1 < r2
If r < r1, the process has full access (r/w)
If r1 ≤ r ≤ r2, the process can read the segment
only
If r2 < r, then the process has no access
Call Brackets
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Imagine we have code running in Ring r, trying to
invoke a code segment
Call brackets define access – range of rings is (r2, r3)
where r2 ≤ r3
If r < r1, the process can execute, but there is a loss of
privilege, where r changes to r_prime
If r1 ≤ r ≤ r2, the process executes with its current
privilege
If r2 ≤ r ≤ r3, the process executes with higher privilege
IF the location is authorized by the gates
If r3 < r, then the process has no access
MLS
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Multilevel Security was pioneered by Multics
– the policy prevents a subject from reading
data that is “more secret” than itself, or
writing to objects that are “less secret”
This is part and parcel of the way the Multics
protection system worked
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MLS is MAC, ACL and Ring Brackets are DAC
Think about performance for a minute…
The Gatekeeper
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Multics tries hard to prevent the confused deputy
problem…
The gatekeeper carefully (!) checks the
parameters passed when privilege increases
The gatekeeper sometimes copies code to avoid
giving a whole segment of the caller to the callee
The kernel is split between Ring 0 and 1 – the
gatekeeper is Ring 0
Security Eval
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Need: complete mediation, tamper proofing,
and verifiability
How does Multics do?
Discussion
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How does the reference monitor interface
ensure that all security-sensitive operations
are mediated correctly?
Does the reference monitor interface mediate
security-sensitive operations on all system
resources?
How do we verify that the reference monitor
interface provides complete mediation?
Discussion
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How does the system protect the reference
monitor from modification?
Does the protection system protect all of the
TCB?
What is the basis for the correctness of the
system’s TCB?
Does the protection system enforce the
system’s goals?
Multics Vulnerabilities
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Karger and Schell’s analysis is very
interesting
Primarily looks at implementation errors in
the system
Actually included a hardware error that
allowed instructions to bypass the SDW
Master Mode
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To me, this is a classic
For performance, it’s ugly to have all traps
dealt with by Ring 0
However, to handle that, we need a user level
trap handler… which requires access to some
privileged instructions
And the trap handler used a register to
determine where to go… and thus, disaster
Lots to do!
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2 weeks, large project
Write an essay that compares Multics with the
modern OS of your choice: Linux, Windows
or iOS. Look at the trajectory of your chosen
OS, not just how it is today, but how it was
How does the modern OS handle the things
that Multics already had?
You’re aiming at 10-20 pages
Resources
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You should read “Protection and the Control
of Information Sharing in Multics” and
“Thirty Years Later: Lessons from the Multics
Security Evaluation”
Resource (long): Final Report of the Multics
Kernel Design Project
We will discuss these papers a week
Thursday, be ready to share your ideas
Questions & Comments
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What do you want to know?

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