Hardware, Software Advances Help Protect Operating Systems from Attack

The operating system (OS) is the backbone of your computer. If the OS is compromised, attackers can take over your computer — or crash it. Now researchers at North Carolina State University have developed an efficient system that utilizes hardware and software to restore an OS if it is attacked.

At issue are security attacks in which an outside party successfully compromises one computer application (such as a Web browser) and then uses that application to gain access to the OS.

For example, the compromised application could submit a “system call” to the OS, effectively asking the OS to perform a specific function. However, instead of a routine function, the attacker would use the system call to attempt to gain control of the OS.

“Our goal is to give the OS the ability to survive such attacks,” says Dr. Yan Solihin, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the new system. “Our approach has three components: attack detection; security fault isolation; and recovery.” Continue reading…

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