April 17, 2008
Mark Russinovich and boundaries... are we missing a key aspect of existing security technology in Windows?
So today I got to sit in a session where Mark spent time reviewing the whole aspect of security boundaries in Windows.
This isn't a new talk, and is actually one I originally saw at last year's MVP Summit. But its always fun to watch his demos. Atleast, it was once AV showed up and fixed his demo machine.
But it had me thinking about boundaries that exist in Windows that we just aren't leveraging effectively. He mentioned .NET CAS. Code access security is an example of a mechanism that provides evidence, permissions and policies that can enforce boundaries, and limit access exposure. It is rarely used, and when it is, is used ineffectively.
It had me thinking though of another piece of technology introduced in Windows Server 2003 to the masses. That's the Authorization Manager, or AzMan as we normally call it in the security groups. AzMan gives the system and its applications role based security to provide constrained whitelist behaviour. A process that is AzMan aware is capable of enforcing policy to ensure that only users within a given role can be made availabe to take action and be restricted in what tasks they can do within a context. A well defined use of security boundaries in Windows.
But no one knows about it. Did you know about it before this post? Probably not. But you should... because at this years RSA conference Microsoft announced it's end-to-end trust initiative which is heavily directed towards role based security.
I think Microsoft is doing a great job in thinking ahead and providing the infrastructure so we can design and deliver more thought out secure solutions. But I wonder if they are doing enough to actually educate the world about just what they ARE doing in this space. This isn't the "Field of Dreams" where if they build it, we will come. Microsoft and its advocates are all going to need to ensure messaging about what Windows is truly capable of (good and bad) is clear, concise and to the point.
I think AzMan is a great piece of role-based goodness that should be much easier to use, deploy and explain. The Visual Studio team needs to step up and tool better to make this easier for developers. What do you think?Posted by SilverStr at April 17, 2008 12:11 AM | TrackBack