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Usable Security Policies for Runtime Environments
2007 (English)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The runtime environments provided by application-level virtual machines such as the Java Virtual Machine or the .NET Common Language Runtime are attractive for Internet application providers because the applications can be deployed on any platform that supports the target virtual machine. With Internet applications, organisations as well as end users face the risk of viruses, trojans, and denial of service attacks. Virtual machine providers are aware of these Internet security risks and provide, for example, runtime monitoring of untrusted code and access control to sensitive resources.

Our work addresses two important security issues in runtime environments. The first issue concerns resource or release control. While many virtual machines provide runtime access control to resources, they do not provide any means of limiting the use of a resource once access is granted; they do not provide so-called resource control. We have addressed the issue of resource control in the example of the Java Virtual Machine. In contrast to others’ work, our solution builds on an enhancement to the existing security architecture. We demonstrate that resource control permissions for Java-mediated resources can be integrated into the regular Java security architecture, thus leading to a clean design and a single external security policy.

The second issue that we address is the usabilityhttps://www.diva-portal.org/liu/webform/form.jsp

DiVA Web Form and security of the setup of security policies for runtime environments. Access control decisions are based on external configuration files, the security policy, which must be set up by the end user. This set-up is security-critical but also complicated and errorprone for a lay end user and supportive, usable tools are so far missing. After one of our usability studies signalled that offline editing of the configuration file is inefficient and difficult for end users, we conducted a usability study of personal firewalls to identify usable ways of setting up a security policy at runtime. An analysis of general user help techniques together with the results from the two previous studies resulted in a proposal of design guidelines for applications that need to set up a security policy. Our guidelines have been used for the design and implementation of the tool JPerM that sets the Java security policy at runtime. JPerM evaluated positively in a usability study and supports the validity of our design guidelines.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Institutionen för datavetenskap, 2007.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1075
Keyword [en]
Information security, Usability, Java, Resource control, Virtual machine
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-8809 (URN)978-91-85715-65-7 (ISBN)oai:DiVA.org:liu-8809 (OAI)
Public defence
2007-05-29, Visionen, Hus B, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2009-04-29
List of papers
1. An evaluation of Java application containers according to security requirements
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An evaluation of Java application containers according to security requirements
2005 (English)In: Proceedings of the 14th IEEE International Workshops on Enabling Technologies, 2005, 178-183Konferensbidrag (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Web browsers, Web servers, Java application servers and OSGi frameworks are all instances of Java execution environments that tun more or less untrusted Java applications. In all these environments, Java applications can come from different sources. Consequently, application developers rarely know which other applications exist in the target Java execution environment. This paper investigates the requirements that need to be imposed on such a container from a security point of view and how the requirements have been implemented by different Java application containers. More specifically, we show a general risk analysis considering assets, threats and vulnerabilities of a Java container. This risk analysis exposes generic Java security problems and leads to a set of security requirements. These security requirements are then used to evaluate the security architecture of existing Java containers for Java applications, applets, servlets, OSGi bundles, and Enterprise Java Beans. For comparison, the requirements are also examined for a C++ application.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14429 (URN)10.1109/WETICE.2005.18 (DOI)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2009-05-18
2. Performance of the Java Security Manager
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performance of the Java Security Manager
2005 (English)In: Computers and Security, ISSN 0167-4048, Vol. 24, no 3, 192-207Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Java Security Manager is one major security feature of the Java programming language. However, in many Java applications the Security Manager is not enabled because it slows execution time. This paper explores the performance of the Java Security Manager in depth, identifies the permissions with the worst performance and gives advice on how to use the Security Manager in a more efficient way.

Our performance test shows that the CPU execution time penalty varies between 5% and 100% per resource access statement. This extreme range is due to the fact that some resource accesses are costly (such as file and socket access) and therefore hide the performance penalty for the access control check almost completely. The time penalty is much more noticeable with access to main memory resources (such as Java objects).

In order to achieve reasonable response times, it is of utmost importance to tune garbage collection because the Java Security Manager creates short-lived objects during its permission check. Also, the order of permissions in the policy file can be important.

Keyword
Java; Performance; Security; Security Manager; Access controller; Permission; Policy; CPU execution time
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14430 (URN)10.1016/j.cose.2004.08.006 (DOI)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27
3. Using the Java sandbox for resource control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using the Java sandbox for resource control
2002 (English)In: Proceedings of the 7th Nordic Workshop on Secure IT Systems (NordSec’02), 2002, 135-147Konferensbidrag (Other academic)
Keyword
Java, security, resource control
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14431 (URN)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2009-05-19
4. A usability study of security policy management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A usability study of security policy management
2006 (English)In: Security and Privacy in Dynamic Environments. Proceedings of the 21st International Information Security Conference (IFIP TC-11) (SEC’06), 2006, 296-306Konferensbidrag (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Java Security Manager is one major security feature of the Java programming language. However, in many Java applications the Security Manager is not enabled because it slows execution time. This paper explores the performance of the Java Security Manager in depth, identifies the permissions with the worst performance and gives advice on how to use the Security Manager in a more efficient way.

Our performance test shows that the CPU execution time penalty varies between 5% and 100% per resource access statement. This extreme range is due to the fact that some resource accesses are costly (such as file and socket access) and therefore hide the performance penalty for the access control check almost completely. The time penalty is much more noticeable with access to main memory resources (such as Java objects).

In order to achieve reasonable response times, it is of utmost importance to tune garbage collection because the Java Security Manager creates short-lived objects during its permission check. Also, the order of permissions in the policy file can be important.

Keyword
Java; Performance; Security; Security Manager; Access controller; Permission; Policy; CPU execution time
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14432 (URN)10.1007/0-387-33406-8_25 (DOI)
Conference
21st International Information Security Conference (IFIP TC-11) (SEC’06)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2014-06-24
5. User help techniques for usable security
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User help techniques for usable security
2007 (English)In: Proceedings of the 1st Symposium on Computer Human Interaction for Management of Information Technology (CHIMIT’07) ACM Press, Boston, MA, USA, New York: ACM, 2007Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There are a number of security-critical applications such as personal firewalls, web browsers and e-mail clients, whose users have little or no security knowledge and are easily confused, even frustrated by menus, messages or dialog boxes that deal with security issues.

While there are evaluations of existing applications and proposals for new approaches or design guidelines for usable security applications, little effort has been invested in determining how applications can help users in security decisions and security tasks. The purpose of this work is to analyse conventional and security-specific user help techniques with regard to their usefulness in supporting lay users in security applications.

We analyse the following help techniques: online documentation, context-sensitive help, wizards, assistants, safe staging and social navigation, and complement these with the tempting alternative of built-in, hidden security. Criteria for the analysis are derived from the type of user questions that can arise in applications and from definitions of when a security application can be called usable.

Designers of security applications can use our analysis as general recommendations for when and how to use and combine user help techniques in security applications, but they can also use the analysis as a template. They can instantiate the template for their specific application to arrive at a concrete analysis of which user help techniques are most suitable in their specific case.

New York: ACM, 2007
Keyword
on-line help, safe staging, social navigation, usable security, user help, wizard
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14433 (URN)10.1145/1234772.1234787 (DOI)1-59593-635-6 (ISBN)
Note
<p>Article No. 11</p>Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2014-06-24Bibliographically approved
6. Usability and security of personal firewalls
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Usability and security of personal firewalls
2007 (English)In: New Approaches for Security, Privacy and Trust in Complex Environments, 2007, 37-48Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Effective security of a personal firewall depends on (1) the rule granularity and the implementation of the rule enforcement and (2) the correctness and granularity of user decisions at the time of an alert. A misconfigured or loosely configured firewall may be more dangerous than no firewall at all because of the user’s false sense of security. This study assesses effective security of 13 personal firewalls by comparing possible granularity of rules as well as the usability of rule set-up and its influence on security.

In order to evaluate usability, we have submitted each firewall to use cases that require user decisions and cause rule creation. In order to evaluate the firewalls’ security, we analysed the created rules. In addition, we ran a port scan and replaced a legitimate, network-enabled application with another program to assess the firewalls’ behaviour in misuse cases. We have conducted a cognitive walkthrough paying special attention to user guidance and user decision support.

We conclude that a stronger emphasis on user guidance, on conveying the design of the personal firewall application, on the principle of least privilege and on implications of default settings would greatly enhance both usability and security of personal firewalls.

Series
IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, ISSN 1571-5736 (print) 1861-2288 (online) ; Vol 232
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14434 (URN)10.1007/978-0-387-72367-9_4 (DOI)978-0-387-72366-2 (ISBN)978-0-387-72367-9 (ISBN)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2014-06-24Bibliographically approved
7. Usable set-up of runtime security policies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Usable set-up of runtime security policies
2007 (English)In: Information Management & Computer Security, ISSN 0968-5227, Vol. 15, no 5, 394-407Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: This paper aims to present concrete and verified guidelines for enhancing the usability and security of software that delegates security decisions to lay users and captures these user decisions as a security policy.

Design/methodology/approach: This work is an exploratory study. The authors hypothesised that existing tools for runtime set-up of security policies are not sufficient. As this proved true, as shown in earlier work, they apply usability engineering with user studies to advance the state-of-the-art.

Findings: Little effort has been spent on how security policies can be set up by the lay users for whom they are intended. This work identifies what users want and need for a successful runtime set-up of security policies.

Practical implications: Concrete and verified guidelines are provided for designers who are faced with the task of delegating security decisions to lay users.

Originality/value: The devised guidelines focus specifically on the set-up of runtime security policies and therefore on the design of alert windows.

Keyword
Business policy, Data security, Internet, Java
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14435 (URN)10.1108/09685220710831134 (DOI)
Note
<p>Special Issue of Information Management &amp; Computer Security: Selected Papers from the HAISA 2007 Symposium.</p>Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2014-06-24
8. An ontology of information security
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An ontology of information security
2007 (English)In: International Journal of Information Security and Privacy, ISSN 1930-1650 (print) 1930-1669 (online), Vol. 1, no 4, 1-23Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present a publicly available, OWL-based ontology of information security which models assets, threats, vulnerabilities, countermeasures and their relations. The ontology can be used as a general vocabulary, roadmap, and extensible dictionary of the domain of information security. With its help, users can agree on a common language and definition of terms and relationships. In addition to browsing for information, the ontology is also useful for reasoning about relationships between its entities, for example, threats and countermeasures. The ontology helps answer questions like: Which countermeasures detect or prevent the violation of integrity of data? Which assets are protected by SSH? Which countermeasures thwart buffer overflow attacks? At the moment, the ontology comprises 88 threat classes, 79 asset classes, 133 countermeasure classes and 34 relations between those classes. We provide the means for extending the ontology, and provide examples of the extendibility with the countermeasure classes ‘memory protection’ and ‘source code analysis’. This article describes the content of the ontology as well as its usages, potential for extension, technical implementation and tools for working with it.

National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14436 (URN)
Available from2007-04-27 Created:2007-04-27 Last updated:2014-06-24

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