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Fwd: Challenge: Confinement

From: Michal Suchanek
Subject: Fwd: Challenge: Confinement
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2006 11:26:40 +0200

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michal Suchanek <address@hidden>
Date: Aug 16, 2006 11:25 AM
Subject: Re: Challenge: Confinement
To: Christian Stüble <address@hidden>

On 8/14/06, Christian Stüble <address@hidden> wrote:

after a long time of following this list only passively, I would like to share
some of my thoughts with you :-)

Background: I am working/researching/developing microkernel-based security
architectures for a few years now, currently at Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB),
Germany. At the moment, our group is involved in some R&D projects
related to trusted computing (TC) and security in general: E.g., PERSEUS
(perseus-os.org), EMSCB (emscb.org), OTC (opentc.net), and some others. In
this context, we are developing security-critical services and applications
on top of L4 and Xen. Further important topics are security engineering,
formal models, language-based security, and security protocols.

General: Since I am not aware of a multi-server system designs that fulfills
today's requirements, our group has to design and implement a lot of services
from scratch - wasting a lot of time, since our main focus is security.
Therefore, we would like to collaborate with further projects like hurd and
coyotos, to share design ideas, use cases and implementations. Unfortunately,
this seems to be impossible due to conflicting requirements (at least with
hurd): We are using TC technology and we are even developing DRM-like
applications (whatever this means). We do this for the following reasons: On
the one hand, it is IMO better to prove that a better solutions exists if you
want to criticise existing technology.  On the other hand, TC is currently
the only technology that is widely available and fulfills (IMO) important
security requirements. Yes, it could be misused (like nearly any
security-related product), but our main develop/reasearch goal is an
architecture that prevents misuse but allows many relevant use cases. The
same holds for the DRM-like applications: We develop applications that allow
the enforcement of security policies in a distributed environment, but which
consider user rights and the law (keywords: multilateral security, fair use).

Challenge: I would like to give a more concrete example of an application that
IMO requires confinement (e.g., based on the security properties offered by TC
technology): As you may know, we have in Germany strict laws regarding user
privacy. E.g., a company is in general not allowed to give personal
information to other institutions. Nevertheless, it is sometimes hard to
prove that there was a leakage of information, or companies may be in
another country. Therefore, one of our goals is to develop an environment
that allows users to create an agent that controls their personal information
and enforces, e.g.,  within the environment of a company, that it can only
use personal information once, or that it cannot be shared with other
companies, etc. But this requires that the owner of the platform executing
the agent cannot access the internal state of the agent. A lot of people
would call the agent a DRM application...

Another application, currently an (open) master thesis, is to develop a P2P
filesharing client that uses DAA to connect to other clients. The motivation
is to prevent modified clients that allow the platform owner to see the
connection table (and thus to uncover the anonymity of clients). But this
only makes sense if the platform owner cannot access the internal state of

I would like to know to what extend people here are interested in a
collaboration. If you think this is too OT to discuss it here, we can
continue this discussion somewhere else..


I guess that the discussion of possible uses of DRM (or DRM-like
technology) is on topic here.

There was a "challenge" thread where Marcus explicitly asked for uses
that are important but cannot be achieved without DRM.

What does DRM buy you in P2P? If you cannot trust the administrator of
the computer you can connect one that you administer yourself. If you
aren't allowed to do that you aren't probably allowed to do p2p
either. Anyway, the network is probably owned by the same untrusted
administrator (if it was not, you could connect another computer). So
you have to design the protocol in such a way that it does not reveal
the other party even in case the connections are observed. I guess in
such case it should be safe against revealing any connection tables as

In the context of personal data protection:
What kind of use do you have in mind? How do you enforce once-only
use? Once you get the data, you can print them, or write them down.
What kind of use guarantees no reuse?

If the administrator of the system cannot access the data how do you
make backups?

I do not see how DRM can be of much help if you want to use a system
that is controlled by a party that you do not trust. Sure encryption
can do something for you. DRM can do a little but not much. And you
still have to trust the provider DRM which I do not consider much
wiser than trusting the party controlling the system.



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