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12th USENIX Security Symposium — Abstract

Pp. 257-272 of the Proceedings

Improving Host Security with System Call Policies

Niels Provos, CITI, University of Michigan


We introduce a system that eliminates the need to run programs in privileged process contexts. Using our system, programs run unprivileged but may execute certain operations with elevated privileges as determined by a configurable policy eliminating the need for suid or sgid binaries. We present the design and analysis of the ``Systrace'' facility which supports fine grained process confinement, intrusion detection, auditing and privilege elevation. It also facilitates the often difficult process of policy generation. With Systrace, it is possible to generate policies automatically in a training session or generate them interactively during program execution. The policies describe the desired behavior of services or user applications on a system call level and are enforced to prevent operations that are not explicitly permitted. We show that Systrace is efficient and does not impose significant performance penalties.
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Last changed: 7 Nov. 2003 jel
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