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demanding security

veryard projects > trust > demanding security
we offer three notions of security material links

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security  as fence Security is a container.  It keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
security as game Security is a battle between attackers and defenders. Attackers try to navigating a complex (and changing) space, where each place or state gives you access to certain other places or states, and visibility of some further places or states not directly accessible.  Defenders try to detect intrusion, close off as many access points as possible, set traps, and keep changing the configuration of the space. This is a topological way of conceiving security.
security as landscape Security involves a complex terrain, where some points are (or appear) more attractive or vulnerable than others - to a range of diverse stakeholders. Security involves a balance of risk and reward.

These three notions of (demanding) security provide an important counterweight to the three notions of (demanding) change described elsewhere on this website.

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Web Service Security

veryard projects > trust > security > ws-security
veryard projects > cbse > web services > ws-security

IBM, Microsoft and Verisign have joined forces to develop and promote a new architecture for web service security.
purpose to enable a variety of systems to securely interoperate in a platform- and language-neutral manner
to ensure the integrity, confidentiality and security of Web services
defines a comprehensive Web service security model that supports, integrates and unifies several popular security models, mechanisms, and technologies (including both symmetric and public key technologies) 
describes a set of specifications and scenarios that show how these specifications might be used together
brings together formerly incompatible security technologies
more Security in a Web Services World: A Proposed Architecture and Roadmap (Joint White Paper from IBM and Microsoft, April 2002) [@IBM] [@Microsoft]


"A customer making an on-line purchase should not be impacted by whether they are using a cell phone or a laptop computer, as long as each device can securely express the proper identity." Thus it should be possible to specify security requirements and policies (e.g. relating to identity) in a technology-neutral manner, and then implement specific mechanisms on each platform (cell phone, laptop, and so on) that demonstrably conform to the requirements and policies.
"Integration through the abstractions of a single security model enables organizations to use their existing investments in security technologies while communicating with organizations using different technologies." This means establishing a common level of abstraction at which the diversity and heterogeneity of rival security devices and mechanisms disappears.

While this represents an attractive simplification, it also potentially represents a dangerous reduction in biodiversity. An attack that is designed at the appropriate level of abstraction might be able to overcome any security mechanism that conforms to the common model.

"A security token is a representation of security-related information (e.g. X.509 certificate, Kerberos tickets and authenticators, mobile device security tokens from SIM cards, username, etc.)"

"The subject of the security token is a principal (e.g. a person, an application or a business entity) about which the claims expressed in the security token apply. Specifically, the subject, as the owner of the security token possesses information necessary to prove ownership of the security token."

In the case of a SIM card, the subject of the security token seems to be the SIM card or the mobile phone. A further step seems to be required to associate this token with a human subscriber.

In many business and social contexts, a principal can delegate authority to an agent, which may involve lending the necessary tokens. The model describes various scenarios for the exchange of tokens. But there also needs to be a higher level of abstraction at which these scenarios can be understood as different ways of achieving the same underlying business security requirements.

"An intermediary may add headers, encrypt or decrypt pieces of the message, or add additional security tokens. In such situations, care should be taken so that alterations to the message do not invalidate message integrity, violate the trust model, or destroy accountability." Who is the caretaker? Can this be independently verified?


General Web service security is only credible if it can be verified and tested - and any breaches detected.

The architecture should also provide some basis for diagnosing any breach of security - how did this intruder get in, how did this information leak out - and planning appropriate corrective/preventative action.

WS-Privacy The general requirement on privacy is to define the ownership of information and knowledge (including commercial, industrial and intellectual property), and to constrain its storage, use and propagation. 

While a web service may require some information to perform its proper function, companies will be reluctant to send commercially sensitive or valuable data to a third party web service without some guarantees that these data will be safeguarded and not abused. In some cases, use of information is permitted -- but only in anonymous or statistical form.

Special cases include digital rights management and escrow. For example, a web service may perform some work on a document or software artefact, and may therefore require special provision to penetrate any copy-protection attached to the artefact, or to access the source code.

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Challenges of Security

veryard projects > trust > security > challenges

Security always conflicts with other interests: change, innovation, marketing, sales, surveillance.
Many powerful players want to see security as a feature, or as a collection of features. They claim that certain products are more secure than ever, because these products have greater security features. But at the same time, these products are more complex and have more vulnerabilities than ever.
Interference and interaction between security mechanisms.  Adding another layer of security doesn't always make you safer - in some cases, unwanted interference between the layers can introduce gaping holes.

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Principles of Security

veryard projects > trust > security > principles

All systems can be broken, given sufficient effort.
Technical systems always have human weaknesses.

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Autonomous Computing - Fiefdoms and Fortresses

veryard projects > trust > security > autonomous

Pat Helland of Microsoft has proposed the Autonomous Computing model as an application design pattern for cooperation between independent systems that do not trust each other. It has two key notions.
Fiefdom An independent computing environment that refuses to trust any outsiders and maintains tight control over a set of mission critical data
Emissary A computing component that helps prepare requests to submit to a fiefdom.  It operates exclusively on published (snapshot) reference data and single-user data.

Helland uses the autonomous computing model to explain many of the new types of applications including offline apps, scalable web-farms, B2B apps, content syndication and content aggregation. (How secure are these then?)
more HPTS 2001 Agenda
TechEd Agenda
IT: Agents for change to rove the Net

Roger Sessions of Object Watch has combined the Helland model with other elements to produce an elaborate Fortress Model of computer security. A fortress is a self-contained software system, contains business logic (grunts) and private data (strongboxes), and is surrounded by an unbreachable wall. Communication with the outside world passes through a drawbridge, and is controlled by guards and by treaties with allies.
more Object Watch Newsletter

I have many reservations about these models. Here are three to be going on with.
Reliance on an absolute, binary notion of trust. Anything or anybody inside the wall is trusted absolutely, anything or anybody outside the wall is mistrusted.
Reliance on simple topology. A wall creates a simple enclosed space, a straightforward boundary between inside and outside.
Reliance on technology. The fortress model depends on firewalls and other security mechanisms.
CBDi forum This is an extract from an article in the January 2002 issue of the CBDi Forum Journal.  Silver or Gold membership of the Forum is required for full access to journal articles, but free Bronze membership will give you access to lots of other resources, including recent news and product reviews.

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Autonomic Computing

veryard projects > trust > security > autonomic

While Microsoft has been developing the notion of autonomous computing, IBM (along with a host of other companies doing related research) has developed the notion of autonomic computing.

From a security point of view, the IBM model of autonomic computing includes self-protection capabilities similar to the human immune system, capable of recognizing foreign anomalies and sending agents to destroy them.  The goal is to survive the unpredictable.
CBDi forum A new article on autonomic computing is planned for the January 2003 issue of the CBDi Journal.  Meanwhile you may wish to read previous articles on security and related topics, including a discussion of immune systems from January 2002. For journal articles, plus news, analysis, product reviews, patterns and other materials, please register at the CBDi Forum website (Silver/Gold membership required for full access to articles, but free Bronze membership will give you access to lots of other resources.)
more Newsfactor Network, April 2001
IBM Security: Research
Research - Computer Immune Systems

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

More Material

veryard projects > trust > security > material

more Trust, Risk Management, Internet Risk, Information Leakage
cbdi forum Patterns for trust and security
more A Guide to Understanding Security Modeling in Trusted Systems
National Computer Security Center, October 1992
more Diffuse
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