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Secure Isolation and Migration of Untrusted Legacy Applications

Potter, Shaya; Nieh, Jason; Subhraveti, Dinesh Kumar

Sting applications often contain security holes that are not patched until after the system has already been compromised. Even when software updates are applied to address security issues, they often result in system services being unavailable for some time. To address these system security and availability issues, we have developed peas and pods. A pea provides a least privilege environment that can restrict processes to the minimal subset of system resources needed to run. This mechanism enables the creation of environments for privileged program execution that can help with intrusion prevention and containment. A pod provides a group of processes and associated users with a consistent, machine-independent virtualized environment. Pods are coupled with a novel checkpoint-restart mechanism which allows processes to be migrated across minor operating system kernel versions with different security patches. This mechanism allows system administrators the flexibility to patch their operating systems immediately without worrying over potential loss of data or needing to schedule system downtime. We have implemented peas and pods in Linux without requiring any application or operating system kernel changes. Our measurements on real world desktop and server applications demonstrate that peas and pods impose little overhead and enable secure isolation and migration of untrusted applications.

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Publisher
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Series
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-005-04
Published Here
April 26, 2011
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