Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics

3/13/2008
08:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NSA Pushes 'Labeled' Access Control for NFS

National Security Agency's technology would tighten access to sensitive files and apps on NFS storage

The National Security Agency (NSA) is pitching its own high-security access control technology for the next version of the Network File System (NFS) protocol.

NSA presented its so-called Labeled NFS technology, which is based on its mandatory access control (MAC) technology in the Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) operating system, earlier this week at the Internet Engineering Task Force meeting in Philadelphia.

Incorporating the MAC-driven technology into NFS would allow a “trusted” user or system to read and write sensitive files and run programs stored on NFS-based networked storage systems. MAC basically makes sure that users only access files for which they’re authorized, and that malicious code can’t run in NFS environments.

The IETF is now awaiting an official request for comments (RFC) from the NSA to begin the process of considering the new security feature for NFS.

“We suggested that they go ahead and [write an] Internet draft that provides some pointers to labeled mechanisms, and document what they’ve done, the design choices they’ve made… focusing on the requirements so we can [better] understand them,” says Spencer Shepler, co-chair of the IETF’s NFSv4 Working Group.

NSA was unavailable for comment at the time of this posting.

In general, a MAC approach centrally controls access policy to sensitive or restricted files and applications, and only a security policy administrator can set those policies (users can’t override them). When a user or program attempts to access a file, for instance, the system determines whether that user or object is authorized to do so.

Traditional access control methods today use an access control list (ACL), which determines access based on user identity, for example, and users and programs can make changes to access rules. The tradeoff with this “discretionary” access approach, according to the IETF presentation made by David Quigley of the NSA’s National Information Assurance Research Laboratory, is that organizations are not protected from malicious or vulnerable software -- and user privileges can be altered and expanded.

NFSv4, the current version of NFS, comes with Kerberos for strong authentication as well as an ACL specification. “You can use Kerberos to strongly authenticate users and to ensure a server is not spoofing or subverting the overall storage mechanisms. And common ACL mechanisms are defined,” says the IETF’s Shepler, who works for Sun. “I view the Labeled NFS work as a third vector of security.”

But whether Labeled NFS may be overkill for organizations that don’t have the same security concerns as a federal agency or the NSA is unclear. “My personal opinion is there’s a set of hurdles on how to use and manage it -- are [enterprises] prepared to take on that type of definition and granularity it might impose? Some organizations are just trying to deal with the basics of strong authentication and reasonable ACL usage -- fundamental things,” Shepler says.

Adding Labeled NFS would let SELinux systems expand their existing MAC security across networked storage systems. It would also benefit FreeBSD and Solaris, according to the NSA’s presentation.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA)

    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Commentary
    Cyberattacks Are Tailored to Employees ... Why Isn't Security Training?
    Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian,  6/17/2021
    Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
    7 Powerful Cybersecurity Skills the Energy Sector Needs Most
    Pam Baker, Contributing Writer,  6/22/2021
    News
    Microsoft Disrupts Large-Scale BEC Campaign Across Web Services
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/15/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Video
    Cartoon
    Current Issue
    The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
    In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    CVE-2021-32716
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
    Shopware is an open source eCommerce platform. In versions prior to 6.4.1.1 the admin api has exposed some internal hidden fields when an association has been loaded with a to many reference. Users are recommend to update to version 6.4.1.1. You can get the update to 6.4.1.1 regularly via the Auto-U...
    CVE-2021-32717
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
    Shopware is an open source eCommerce platform. In versions prior to 6.4.1.1 private files publicly accessible with Cloud Storage providers when the hashed URL is known. Users are recommend to first change their configuration to set the correct visibility according to the documentation. The visibilit...
    CVE-2021-32712
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
    Shopware is an open source eCommerce platform. Versions prior to 5.6.10 are vulnerable to system information leakage in error handling. Users are recommend to update to version 5.6.10. You can get the update to 5.6.10 regularly via the Auto-Updater or directly via the download overview.
    CVE-2021-32713
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
    Shopware is an open source eCommerce platform. Versions prior to 5.6.10 suffer from an authenticated stored XSS in administration vulnerability. Users are recommend to update to the version 5.6.10. You can get the update to 5.6.10 regularly via the Auto-Updater or directly via the download overview.
    CVE-2021-32710
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
    Shopware is an open source eCommerce platform. Potential session hijacking of store customers in versions below 6.3.5.2. We recommend to update to the current version 6.3.5.2. You can get the update to 6.3.5.2 regularly via the Auto-Updater or directly via the download overview. For older versions o...