Conference Paper

PinUP: Pinning User Files to Known Applications

Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Eng., Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA
DOI: 10.1109/ACSAC.2008.41 Conference: Computer Security Applications Conference, 2008. ACSAC 2008. Annual
Source: DBLP


Users commonly download, patch, and use applications such as email clients, office applications, and media-players from the Internet. Such applications are run with the user's full permissions. Because system protections do not differentiate applications, any malcode present in the downloaded software can compromise or otherwise leak all user data. Interestingly, our investigations indicate that common applications often adhere to recognizable workflows on user data. In this paper, we take advantage of this reality by developing protection mechanisms that "pin'' user files to the applications that may use them. These mechanisms restrict access to user data to explicitly stated workflows--thus preventing malcode from exploiting user data not associated with that application. We describe our implementation of PinUP on the Linux Security Modules framework, explore its performance, and study several practical use cases. Through these activities, we show that user data can be protected from untrusted applications while retaining the ability to receive the benefits of those applications.

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    • "While it might appear that system-centric models are less restrictive , in our experimental evaluation, we observed a very good match between our models and real-life application executions . Additionally, MAC policy are often deployed to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of system files, at the cost of leaving user files poorly (if at all) secured and in need of additional mechanisms, such as the PinUP tool proposed by Enck et al. [8], which ties user files to particular applications. Our system-centric model covers system and user files, based on the observation that both system programs and applications satisfy some general ways in which they use OS resources. "
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