Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hardware, software advances help protect operating systems from attack

Date:
January 27, 2011
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
The operating system (OS) is the backbone of your computer. If the OS is compromised, attackers can take over your computer -- or crash it. Now researchers have developed an efficient system that utilizes hardware and software to restore an OS if it is attacked.

The operating system (OS) is the backbone of your computer. If the OS is compromised, attackers can take over your computer -- or crash it. Now researchers at North Carolina State University have developed an efficient system that utilizes hardware and software to restore an OS if it is attacked.

At issue are security attacks in which an outside party successfully compromises one computer application (such as a Web browser) and then uses that application to gain access to the OS. For example, the compromised application could submit a "system call" to the OS, effectively asking the OS to perform a specific function. However, instead of a routine function, the attacker would use the system call to attempt to gain control of the OS.

"Our goal is to give the OS the ability to survive such attacks," says Dr. Yan Solihin, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the new system. "Our approach has three components: attack detection; security fault isolation; and recovery."

The concept is to take a snapshot of the OS at strategic points in time (such as system calls or interrupts), when it is functioning normally and then, if the OS is attacked, to erase everything that was done since the last "good" snapshot was taken -- effectively going back in time to before the OS attack. The mechanism also allows the OS to identify the source of the attack and isolate it, so that the OS will no longer be vulnerable to attacks from that application.

The idea of detecting attacks and re-setting a system to a safe state is a well-known technique for restoring a system's normal functions after a failure, but this is the first time researchers have developed a system that also incorporates the security fault isolation component. This critical component prevents the OS from succumbing to the same attack repeatedly.

The concept of taking snapshots of the OS and using it to replace the OS if it is compromised was previously viewed as impractical, since taking these snapshots and running such a system significantly slowed computer operating speeds. "But we've developed hardware support that allows the OS to incorporate these survivability components more efficiently, so that they take up less time and energy," Solihin says. The researchers say the survival system takes up less than 5 percent of the OS's operating overhead.

The paper, "Architectural Framework for Supporting Operating System Survivability," was co-authored by Solihin and former NC State Ph.D. student Xiaowei Jiang. The paper will be presented Feb. 16 at the IEEE International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture in San Antonio, Texas. The research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

NC State's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is part of the university's College of Engineering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Hardware, software advances help protect operating systems from attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126101955.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2011, January 27). Hardware, software advances help protect operating systems from attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126101955.htm
North Carolina State University. "Hardware, software advances help protect operating systems from attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126101955.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Will Need To Squish These Bugs In iOS 8

Apple Will Need To Squish These Bugs In iOS 8

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) As users rush to download the latest version of Apple's iOS software, they're running into bugs plaguing battery life, WiFi connectivity, and more. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins