Saturday, January 17, 2015

Do We Really Need Layered Security For Single User Computers?


I have a subscription to user support in the fedora users mail list. I came across a thread about SElinux. Selinux is the mandatory access control security layer implemented in fedora and Red Hat Enterprise linux. In Ubuntu (also in OpenSuse) they implement MAC through Apparmor.

From:  Andrew R Paterson <andy.paterson@ntlworld.com>
File system permissions require at least basic knowledge and
> administration.  Most of the people I installed Linux for don't even
> know what they're good for.

> If your computer is single-user anyway, why does it need a security
> subsystem?


> *eyeroll*
Having watched this debate I find I must add my own 10c
I have spent over 30 years working on unix systems starting with xenix, bsd 
and ending up with linux .....
We survived quite happily using the well known DAC methods of standard UNIX.
(UGO - RWX - setuid etc).
Then I worked on some military systems (high security stuff) and started to use 
SOLARIS CMW (Compartentalised Mode Workstation) and DEC MLS (Multi-Level-
Security).
These both use the same (probably not as up to date) MAC security via 
labelling as (I guess) selinux.
I can truthfully say I loved UNIX in all its forms until coming across CMW & 
MLS and now SELINUX - then basically - I wanted OUT!.
They are horrendous; if you start to use labelling in earnest - absolutely 
suicidal!!! - unless you have a real motive - ie you work for the security 
services or a bank or something  and have a massive amount of time to devote.
Why do the selinux guys have to force MAC onto all linux users - even 
hobbyists?
Its getting like some kind of religion!

May I add that MAC is implemented differently in Ubuntu. Only *some* critical processes are protected. Layered security helps to protect our computer from zero-day attacks. It makes it less susceptible to system-wide malware attacks.
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