Perimeter
2/10/2009
06:15 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Could Slimmer OSes Lead To Better Mobile Device Security?

Maybe I'm stretching a bit, but let's say that operating system developers slimmed down their standard OSes enough so that eventually they'd be skinny enough to have a career in fashion and, more important, run on mobile devices. And, if so, would this be a good thing for mobile device security?

Maybe I'm stretching a bit, but let's say that operating system developers slimmed down their standard OSes enough so that eventually they'd be skinny enough to have a career in fashion and, more important, run on mobile devices. And, if so, would this be a good thing for mobile device security?I pondered this today while reading Ephraim Schwartz's story on ComputerWorld, "The incredible shrinking operating system."

I've spoken before about how delightful it would be if Microsoft, Apple, and their colleagues would cool it with the window dressing and frenetic adding of new features, and, instead, take some time to make their current OSes slimmer. In fact, I was a bit giddy when Mac announced this was precisely its plan for Mac OS X "Snow Leopard." A trim OS moves more quickly than a massive, bloated OS. Plus, less code generally means more security.

Another compelling reason Schwartz mentioned for putting operating systems on a diet is because "a smaller OS can run on a greater variety of devices, and as netbooks, smartphones, and new devices like the iPod Touch gain traction, the benefit of a smaller OS becomes hard to ignore."

OK, so let's say your Apple comes out with the new, slim-and-sexy Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and it can run on your iPhone.

Good thing? Bad thing?

From an interoperability, ease-of-use standpoint, it sounds good. From a security standpoint--well, it could be good because the mobile platform would have gone through the same scrutiny as other operating systems. (Maybe Mac's a bad example, here, but you get my point.)

Similarly, the iPhone's Snow Leopard operating system could theoretically run the same well-scrutinized applications as an iMac's Snow Leopard. (Realistically, though, the applications, themselves, would have to lose a lot of tonnage if they want to dance with an iPhone's comparatively puny RAM.) If, for example, the security industry ever succeeds in developing a secure Web browser that actually works,, I'd love to see it work on my BlackBerry.

On the other hand, narrowing the number of OSes to pen test and exploit might make attackers' job easier.

I'm just beginning to ponder this. I'm eager to gain the benefit of your thoughts.

Sara Peters is senior editor at Computer Security Institute. Special to Dark Reading. Sara Peters is contributing editor to Dark Reading and editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad of other ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2963
Published: 2014-07-10
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in group/control_panel/manage in Liferay Portal 6.1.2 CE GA3, 6.1.X EE, and 6.2.X EE allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) _2_firstName, (2) _2_lastName, or (3) _2_middleName parameter.

CVE-2014-3310
Published: 2014-07-10
The File Transfer feature in WebEx Meetings Client in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server and WebEx Meeting Center does not verify that a requested file was an offered file, which allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a modified request, aka Bug IDs CSCup62442 and CSCup58463.

CVE-2014-3311
Published: 2014-07-10
Heap-based buffer overflow in the file-sharing feature in WebEx Meetings Client in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server and WebEx Meeting Center allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via crafted data, aka Bug IDs CSCup62463 and CSCup58467.

CVE-2014-3315
Published: 2014-07-10
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in viewfilecontents.do in the Dialed Number Analyzer (DNA) component in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via an unspecified parameter, aka Bug ID CSCup76308.

CVE-2014-3316
Published: 2014-07-10
The Multiple Analyzer in the Dialed Number Analyzer (DNA) component in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allows remote authenticated users to bypass intended upload restrictions via a crafted parameter, aka Bug ID CSCup76297.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marilyn Cohodas and her guests look at the evolving nature of the relationship between CIO and CSO.