Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Missing the point on Slashdot... yet again

Slashdot gets close to the truth... and then totally blows it, as usual. 

A recent story pointed out that there will be funding for Minix, one of the goals being to figure out how to build a provably secure OS kernel.

From the project proposal: (warning: pdf)

The most serious reliability and security problems are those relating to the operating system. The core problem is that no current system obeys the POLA: the Principle Of Least Authority. The POLA states that a system should be partitioned into components in such a way that an inevitable bug in one component cannot propagate into another component and do damage there. Each component should be given only the authority it needs to do its own job and no more. In particular, it should not be able to read or write data belonging to another component, read any part of the computer’s memory other than its own address space, execute sensitive instructions it has no business executing, touch I/O devices it should not touch, and so on. Current operating systems violate this principle completely, resulting in the reliability and security problems mentioned above.

So... in my opinion, this is the key take away... to build something actually secure, instead of trying to use the tired old language X is insecure chestnut or other assertions.

Slashdot encourages responses based on emotion and ego, and doesn't provide proper incentives to actually help discover truth and learn new things. There has to be a better way.