Linked by David Adams on Tue 11th Oct 2011 20:08 UTC, submitted by lucas_maximus
Internet Explorer Microsoft has unveiled a website aimed at raising awareness of browser security by comparing the ability of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome to withstand attacks from malware, phishing, and other types of threats. Your Browser Matters gives the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome a paltry 2 and 2.5 points respectively out of a possible score of 4. Visit the site using the IE 9, however, and the browser gets a perfect score. IE 7 gets only 1 point, and IE 6 receives no points at all. The site refused to rate Apple's Safari browser in tests run by The Register.
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RE[4]: Comment by Gone fishing
by Neolander on Wed 12th Oct 2011 18:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Gone fishing"
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, imagine a desktop OS where software would be confined in a tiny part of the hard drive and couldn't touch any other file. It would have its binaries and data, system-wide and per-user config files, and that's it. It couldn't access anything else on the hard drive, including the user's home folder, without explicit user permission.

Said explicit permission could take the form of a command line parameter, double clicking a file with the proper association, a standard system "file open" GUI dialog... Or, for software which legitimately needs to access user files behind his back, like a backup service, an elevated privilege request for such access, that is displayed once, through a controlled system dialog, during installation.

We can imagine applying a similar philosophy to every other system service which has a "dangerous" side to it : real time process priorities, altering network configuration, power management features which turn hardware on and off, more generally direct hardware access...

Most of today's applications only have limited needs and could work very well with this much reduced level of security permission. But it would strongly reduce the amount of stuff which malware can do silently. Wiping your home folder ? Not possible anymore. Sending your private data to a third party without you knowing ? Not possible anymore. Putting a rootkit in your OS kernel during installation ? Not possible anymore, as software does not require dedicated installers anymore. Making a hidden trojan binary run silently on each user login ? Not possible anymore.

Sandboxing would not eliminate malware, but it would significantly higher the effort necessary to engineer it. Now, malware would have to do stuff in plain sight of the user. Privilege elevation dialogs would explain clearly what it is up to. So said malware would have to come up with a good justification for what it's doing, facing a cautious user who is not used to seeing meaningless "a program wants to make changes to your system" dialogs all the time.

Edited 2011-10-12 18:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by Gone fishing
by oinet on Wed 12th Oct 2011 19:56 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Gone fishing"
oinet Member since:
2010-03-23

I know that, and I agree with it. When I read a book or two about OS design years ago I realized the extreme shortcomings of contemporary user based "security" design. In a Windows IRC channel I mentioned the illogical absence of application privileges in addition to user ones, and got into a discussion with an op.
That op didn't like the "idea", and to make the story short, he'd rather not have such a thing than having to, as user, manually grant apps permission for various resources !

I found myself mysteriously "disconnected" from that channel after I explained this view of mine, which is that inside an OS (and only there ;) ) this is my ideal social hierarchy:

1. Admins are gods.
2. Users are kings.
3. processes are people, to be controlled, assigned duties, used, abused, and thrown away.

Edited 2011-10-12 19:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Basically my social hierarchy too ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Comment by Gone fishing
by torjv on Wed 12th Oct 2011 21:36 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Gone fishing"
torjv Member since:
2011-07-30

Long live the pope! ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1