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Verifying the EROS Confinement Mechanism

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					                                     Verifying the EROS Confinement Mechanism£

                                                  Jonathan S. Shapiro                   Sam Weber
                                                      IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
                                                     shapj,samweber@us.ibm.com


                                  Abstract                                          Boebert [1] and Karger [9] have argued that unmodi-
                                                                                fied capability systems cannot enforce even basic manda-
         Capability systems can be used to imple-                               tory access controls such as the *-property. Both have pro-
     ment higher-level security policies including the                          posed solutions in the form of hybrid protection architec-
     *-property if a mechanism exists to ensure confine-                         tures. Karger has also argued that unmodified capability
     ment. The implementation can be efficient if the “weak”                     systems cannot enforce confinement [8]. Given that EROS
     access restriction described in this paper is introduced.                  is a pure capability system, and that its security design rests
     In the course of developing EROS, a pure capability                        on its ability to enforce confinement, a rigorous verification
     system, it became clear that verifying the correctness of the              of the EROS confinement mechanism is necessary.
     confinement mechanism was necessary in establishing the                         As described by Lampson [10], the confinement prob-
     security of the operating system.                                          lem is to establish a runtime compartment satisfying two
         This paper presents a verification of the EROS confine-                  requirements. First, entities inside the compartment may
     ment mechanism with respect to a broad class of capability                 transmit information to entities outside the compartment
     architectures (including EROS). We give a formal statement                 only via authorized channels of communication. Mutations
     of the requirements, construct a model of the architecture’s               inside the compartment therefore may not be observed out-
     security policy and operational semantics, and show that                   side the compartment unless explicitly authorized by the
     architectures covered by this model enforce the confinement                 client. Second, entities outside the compartment may not in-
     requirements if a small number of initial static checks on                 spect entities inside the compartment without their consent.
     the confined subsystem are satisfied. The method used gen-                   We define a confinement policy that ensures these require-
     eralizes to any capability system.                                         ments by testing whether a set of initial static preconditions
                                                                                is satisfied:
     Keywords: operating systems, capability systems, proof of
     correctness, confinement, verification, formal specification.                  1. All capabilities initially held by the confined subsys-
                                                                                    tem either (a) convey no mutate authority, (b) are au-
                                                                                    thorized channels, or (c) are capabilities to construc-
                                                                                    tor that (recursively) instantiate confined subsystems.
     1. Introduction                                                                Since no unauthorized mutations are possible, no ex-
                                                                                    ternal observations of unauthorized mutations are pos-
         EROS [20] is a pure capability system that provides a                      sible.
     mechanism for creating and instantiating confined subsys-
     tems: the constructor. This mechanism is part of the sys-                   2. No entity outside the confinement boundary holds read
     tem’s trusted computing base. EROS is a clean-room reim-                       authority to any entity within the newly instantiated
     plementation of the KeyKOS architecture [2, 6] (originally                     confined subsystem.
     called GNOSIS [3]). It builds on the KeySafe [14] design
                                                                                We will show that this policy can be enforced in capability
     as the basis for mandatory security policy enforcement. The
                                                                                systems, and can be enforced efficiently if a new primitive
     security enforcement provided by KeySafe is predicated on
                                                                                access right is introduced.
     the correctness of the constructor.
                                                                                   This paper does not address the issue of covert channel
     £ This work is a continuation of work started at the University of Penn-
                                                                                suppression. While important, reducing such channels is
       sylvania. Portions of this were supported by DARPA under Contracts
       #N66001-96-C-852, #MDA972-95-1-0013, and #DABT63-95-C-0073.
                                                                                largely orthogonal to restricting explicit information flow,
       Additional support was provided by the AT&T Foundation, and the          and is of interest only when it has first been shown that
       Hewlett-Packard and Intel Corporations.                                  overt channels have been closed. Similarly, this paper does


0-7695-0665-8/00 $10.00 ã 2000 IEEE
     not consider issues such as off line data forensics or mod-     via capability-controlled structures. Both address transla-
     ification of the store by a party with physical access to the    tion and process state structures are stored in nodes (the
     machine.                                                        EROS term for c-lists). Data and capabilities are partitioned
        KeySafe enforces mandatory security policies across          to prevent forgery.
     confined compartments. Communication between compart-               For purposes of verification, the essential EROS re-
     ments is mediated by a user-level reference monitor, which      source types are processes, data pages, capability pages, and
     relies on knowledge of the semantics of the “primitive” ob-     nodes.1 A process names an address space and executes the
     jects to decide what operations and authority transfers are     program in that address space in the usual way. Load and
     authorized. To allow later revocation, the reference monitor    store operations require that data go to data pages and capa-
     inserts transparent forwarding objects in front of all capa-    bilities to capability pages and nodes. Address spaces are
     bilities that are allowed to pass from one compartment to       constructed as a tree of nodes whose leaves are data pages.
     another. Implementing the reference monitor outside the         A complete process showing all resource types is shown in
     kernel allows policies to be updated as new primitive object    Figure 1.
     types are introduced, and facilitates adaptation of manda-
     tory policies to the needs of particular applications.                                                                              Page
                                                                                                       node                              Capability
        In this paper we show that the confinement test used by                                 0                         15
     the EROS constructor mechanism is correct. That is, we                                                                              Null
                                                                         Node
     model a broad class of capability systems, and show that                                                                            Capability
     given a correct implementation of any capability system sat-                                                                        Node
                                                                                   Node                                                  Capability
     isfying our model, the checks performed by the constructor
     certify that the newly instantiated service is properly sand-       Process                     node                           node
                                                                                           0                        15        0                      15
     boxed, and that (unless permitted by the service) the client
     cannot inspect the service. To verify that EROS can enforce
     confinement, we have developed a formal statement of re-
     quirements and a simplified model, SW, that is both strictly
     more powerful and more general than the EROS architec-
     ture. SW treats the OS-provided primitive operations as a
     serializably concurrent language whose operations are the                                         Pages                         Page
     kernel calls. We have modeled EROS’s security policy, ac-
     cess control mechanisms, and operational semantics, and                           Figure 1. An EROS process
     have shown that the EROS semantics satisfies the require-
     ments of confinement.
        The balance of this paper proceeds as follows. Sec-              The EROS object and protection model are extended to
     tion 2 presents a brief summary of EROS and the construc-       secondary storage by transparent persistence [11]. This en-
     tor mechanism, and provides an informal intuition for why       sures that the security model does not change at the sec-
     the constructor mechanism results in confinement. Having         ondary storage boundary. Periodically, the system performs
     described the architecture and mechanism, we describe and       an efficient checkpoint operation, recording the state of
     justify key parts of our modeling and proof methodology         all objects changed since the last snapshot, including pro-
     (Section 3). Section 4 presents the model itself, the formal    cesses. There is no kernel-implemented file system; if file-
     statement of requirements, and the key pieces of the correct-   like behavior is required by an application, a process is con-
     ness proof (an unabridged proof may be found in [18, 21]).      structed that implements file behavior.
     Some related work is discussed in Section 5. Finally, we
     discuss the implications of this work and its effect on the     2.1. The Weak Attribute
     original system architecture and design.
                                                                        While a read-only capability prevents modifications to
     2. EROS and the Constructor                                     the resource it designates, it permits the holder to fetch any
                                                                     read-write capabilities that may reside in that resource. The
        EROS [20] is a pure capability system. The architec-         1   In the interest of brevity, we have omitted from this paper several capa-
     ture incorporates what has come to be the conventional non-         bilities and attributes whose semantics are a subset of some other object
     buffering interprocess communication primitives [12, 19],           we have included. We have also omitted explicit consideration of device
                                                                         drivers (which are presumed to be holes) and certain capabilities such as
     with a novel twist providing for “at most one” reply. Meta-         “number capabilities” that convey no authority. Details of these can be
     data such as mapping structures that are typically consid-          found in [17, 18, 21].
     ered part of the operating system are exported by EROS


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     weak attribute enforces transitively read-only access. If an        3. Verification Requirements and Modeling
     invocation on a capability, such as the “fetch” operation on           Method
     a node capability, would return some other capability, and
     the invoked capability is weak, then returned capabilities
                                                                            To verify the constructor mechanism, we must construct
     are first reduced in authority by marking them read-only
                                                                         SW, a model of the EROS system, specify the requirements
     and weak. The read-only restriction ensures that the imme-
                                                                         of confinement in terms independent of both the access con-
     diate object cannot be modified. The weak restriction en-
                                                                         trol model and the operational semantics, and describe the
     sures that read-only semantics will be enforced transitively
                                                                         access control model. Finally, we must show that the sys-
     through subsequent capability fetches. The weak attribute
                                                                         tem’s security policies implement its requirements.
     is a generalization of the KeyKOS [6] sense capability.
                                                                         System Model Because EROS is persistent, a natural
     2.2. Constructors                                                   level of analysis is to examine operations on nodes and
                                                                         pages. The only additional state saved by the EROS check-
         The constructor is a trusted EROS application that              point mechanism is the list of currently running processes
     builds new program (or subsystem) instances and certifies            at the time of the checkpoint. All operations performed by
     whether these instances are confined. The developer (or              the kernel consist of modifications to nodes and pages.
     installer) of an application obtains a constructor that ini-            SW may safely deviate from the actual system provided
     tially holds no capabilities, and installs those capabilities       that SW is at least as powerful as EROS. Any behavior that
     that an instance of the application should hold when it is          could occur in EROS must be possible in SW. If this is so,
     first started. As each capability is added to the constructor,       and if no information can flow out of a confined subsystem
     the constructor examines it to see if it conveys any authority      in SW, then the same will hold true in EROS. For modeling
     to mutate objects. A capability is “safe” if:                       purposes, we have made several departures from the actual
       ¯   It trivially conveys no mutate authority, or                  system:

       ¯   It is a read-only, weak capability, or                         1. The model uses permissions rather than restrictions.
       ¯   It is a capability to a constructor that (recursively) gen-       This is merely a switch from subtractive to additive
                                                                             logic. While the model is richer than the system, every
           erates confined products.
                                                                             capability permission existing in the real system can
     If the capability is not safe, the constructor records it in a          be captured using the permissions of the model.
     set of known holes. When all desired capabilities have been
     installed, the builder then “freezes” the constructor, after         2. In the model, no distinction is made between nodes,
     which it will accept no further capabilities. Once frozen,              pages, and processes. Note that processes are strictly
     all holes are known to the constructor, and the constructor             more powerful than either nodes or pages, and that SW
     can therefore determine whether the program instances it                is therefore more powerful than EROS as a result of
     creates are confined.                                                    this simplification.
         When a client wishes to create a new instance of a sub-
     system, such as a file or a sort utility, it presents a set of au-    3. The real system uses objects of bounded size. The
     thorized capabilities to the constructor and asks if the con-           model uses sets, both to avoid dependency on any par-
     structor output (the “yield”) is confined modulo those capa-             ticular object size and to generalize the model to cover
     bilities. If  ÓÐ ×      ÙØ ÓÖ Þ      , the product is confined.          similar systems.
     The intuition is this: there is no way to cause damage via
     safe capabilities, and the user has authorized all of the oth-       4. EROS keeps capabilities and data in objects of distinct
     ers. Because capabilities to safe constructors are safe, the            type. SW allows objects to contain both, but the op-
     constructor mechanism permits relatively complex subsys-                erational semantics has no operations that allow them
     tems to be built behind a confinement boundary.                          to be interconverted. One may imagine the model ob-
         Weak capabilities allow a capability pointing to a com-             jects to consist of a data part and a capability part. The
     plex structure to be added safely without requiring that the            EROS system represents the subcase in which either
     structure be traversed. Safety might also be accomplished               the data or the capability part of each object is required
     using a “deep copy” of the structure, but the weak access re-           to be empty.
     striction makes the copy unnecessary, and thereby allows a
     dominating compartment to be granted weak access to con-             5. EROS has process states, three invocation operations,
     tent in a lesser compartment without the need for further               and a special capability type supporting return-once
     mediation. It also allows multiple readers to have consistent           semantics. In this paper, we have simplified this to
     read-only access to a data structure that is being updated.             a single, more general invocation type and omitted the


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          special capability type. Earlier versions of the opera-       verifiable based on a modest set of initial conditions. This
          tional semantics and proof have included both [18, 21].       eliminates the need to dynamically interpret the actions of
          Their omission here is for brevity and clarity.               the confined subsystem. By looking only at a small portion
                                                                        of the current system state, the constructor must be able to
       6. Reading a page in EROS produces the value that was            judge the confinement of its products.
          last written. SW does not keep track of the contents of
          pages. Ignoring page state results in a more powerful
                                                                            The function  ÑÙØ Ð     Ë ´ µ takes a single state Ë and
                                                                        from that computes the set of all the entities that might in the
          model: processes are maximally hostile. Finally, we           future be mutated by the entities . Although this function
          demonstrate that the security of EROS does not rely           is not actually computed by the operating system (for obvi-
          upon values computed by applications.                         ous efficiency reasons), it is the basis for the access checks
       7. The EROS storage allocator is implemented by trusted          performed by the operational semantics. The check per-
          user-level software. In SW, its behavior is represented       formed by the constructor therefore provides a conservative
          by the  Ö Ø    ´µ and    ×ØÖÓÝ   ´µ operations. A compli-     verification of the requirements.
                                                                            Proof of Correctness To show that the system’s security
          cation potentially arises from the fact that the real sys-
          tem reallocates objects. When an object is destroyed,         policies implement its requirements, we must show that if
          the allocator reinitializes the object and invalidates all    is an execution of the system whose initial state is ˼ , and
          capabilities to that object by incrementing its version       if is any set of resources, then
          number. Since there is a finite bound on version num-
          bers, and each version is allocated at most once, we
                                                                                     ÑÙØ Ø        ´ µ    ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´   ¼   µ

          consider each version of an EROS object to be a dis-          In other words, if some entity was mutated in an execution,
          tinct SW object for modeling purposes.                        then the security policy must have said that it was originally
                                                                        mutable. This statement relies upon properties of both the
       8. Real applications obey sequential programs, and their
                                                                        operational semantics, and the security policy. One of the
          behavior is highly predictable. SW instead assumes
                                                                        aims of this work is to state these properties in such a way
          that the behavior of a program is completely nondeter-
                                                                        as to be applicable to other situations.
          ministic. If it is possible for a program to perform a
          particular operation, SW assumes that it does so. This
          means that the verification’s correctness does not rely        4. EROS Verification
          on peculiarities of instruction sequencing.
                                                                          SW is a structured operational semantics whose judg-
     Each of these changes makes SW more powerful than                  ments are of the form
     EROS.
                                                                                                     «
         Requirements Statement A confined process should                                          ˼   ˽
     not be able to affect any non-authorized entities outside
     the confinement boundary. Given an execution and a                  with the intended meaning “When the system was in state
     set of confined entities       we want to define a function          ˼ , action/kernel call « occurred, which resulted in state
     ÑÙØ Ø         ´ µ whose value is the set of entities in the sys-   ˽ .” There is no strong distinction in SW between processes
     tem (confined or otherwise) that were affected by in the            and objects; a process is simply an object that initiates an
     execution. By doing so, we state what the communication            action. The term “process” is used solely as a descriptive
     channels of the system are. The   ÑÙØ Ø      relation is transi-   convenience to distinguish actor from actee.
     tive. Suppose a process Ô modifies a resource Ü, and another
     process Õ subsequently reads Ü. In this sequence of events, Ô      4.1. Semantic Entities of SW
     has mutated Õ , even though the two processes never directly
     communicated. Our definition of      ÑÙØ Ø       takes this form       Figure 2 gives the basic semantic entities of SW. The
     of indirect communication into account.                            system resources consist of objects. If is a capability,
         Similarly, we define the function Ö        ´ µ to be the set    ØÖ Ø     ´ µ is the resource that capability refers to, and
     of entities in the system (confined or otherwise) that E read       Ö Ø×    ´ µ is that capability’s access rights. Access rights
     (directly or indirectly) in the course of the execution. This      are represented as a subset of Ê          Û Ö ÛÖ Ü          .
     definition includes both entities read directly via an oper-          Ö ÛÖ
                                                                        The      ,     and   Ü     rights correspond to the conven-
     ation such as a load, and also entities whose value is “ob-        tional read, write, and execute permissions. The effect of
     served” during the course of the computation.                      Û    permission is to ensure transitive read-only access as
         Access Control While the confinement problem require-           described in Section 2.2. Use of permissions rather than
     ments are stated in terms of the execution of the system,          restrictions departs from EROS, but we have found that it
     it is desirable for the corresponding security policy to be        makes the model easier to understand and work with. The


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                                  Universal Sets                           4.2. Operational Semantics

               Ç         Ø              the set of objects                    We define the transition relation           ¡ Ë ¢            Ë as
                     Ô×                 set of capabilities                follows:
                   Ê                                                                                  « ¼
                                                                                                              Ë  Ë
                                       set of access rights
                   Ë                   set of system states
                                 set ofÇ       Ø  ¢ ÓÔ Ö Ø     ÓÒ×         where the state transformation performed by each action «
                                                                           is given in Figure 4. The data read and write operations
                                 Capability Types                          do not affect the state at all. Since these operations only
                                                                           affect pages, and the system state is only kernel data, this
               Ç         Ô        the set of object capabilities           is correct. Note that the fact of a read or write operation is
                                                                           observable – the requirements statement will insist upon the
                                 Utility Functions                         proper security behavior.
                                                                               The function   Ö ×ØÖ Ø ´ Ö µ returns a copy of the capa-
               Ø Ö Ø´¡µ                    Ô× Ç Ê Ø                        bility in which all access rights in Ö have been removed
               Ö Ø×´¡µ                       Ô× ¾                          fromÖ Ø×     ´ µ.
                  ØÓÖ´¡µ                      Ç Ø                            Ö ×ØÖ Ø´      Öµ       Ç          Ô´Ø Ö Ø´ µ Ö Ø×´ µ         Öµ

                                                                                                    Ö×
                     Figure 2. Semantic entities
                                                                              The function         ´Ñ µ removes all elements of
                                                                           from the mapping Ñ. It is used in the definition when all
     System state:   Ë       ´Ë Ü ×Ø Ë Ô× Ë           µ   ¾Ë               outstanding capabilities to an entity must be destroyed.

        Ë Ü ×Ø         Ç          Ø        the set of live objects
                                                                           Lemma 1:
                                                                           The transition relation        ¡   is well-defined. That is, if Ë
                                                                                                                                              «
                                                                                                                                               
      Ë Ô× Ç            Ø        ¾    Ô×   the map between objects         Ë ¼ , then Ë ¼ is a state.
                                           and sets of capabilities
           Ë           Ç          Ø        the set of all objects which
                                                                              This lemma is proven by straightforward case analysis.
                                           have been destroyed             4.3. Security Requirements
     Sanity conditions:
                                                                               To state the EROS security requirements we must be
      1.       ×Ø
           Ë Ü Ë and Ë are disjoint                                        able to determine the set of entities that a given subsys-
      2.    ¾ Ó¾Ç Ø Ë Ô× ´Óµ µ                     Ø Ö Ø´ µ ¾ Ë Ü ×Ø       tem has mutated during the course of an execution. Sim-
                                                                           ilarly, we have to define the entities a subsystem has read
                                                                           from. As discussed in the requirements statement, we de-
                         Figure 3. System state
                                                                           fine a function    ÑÙØ Ø
                                                                                               «        «
                                                                                                         ´¡µ with the intended meaning
                                                                           that if       ˼   ½ ˽   ¾           ËÒ is an execution, and
     functionØÓÖ      ´¡µ associates a unique process with each ac-
                                                                                  Ç        Ø    ÑÙØ Ø
                                                                                            , then              ´ µ is the set of entities

               Ç Ô
     tion. We use              as a constructor: if Ó ¾          Ç,    Ø   that have been affected by the entities in the execution
     then  Ç Ô Û    ´Ó        µ is the unique weak capability that
                                                                           (Figure 6). We use the expected auxiliary definitions for
                                                                           ÛÖÓØ ØÓ   ´¡µ and    Ö        ÖÓÑ
                                                                                                           ´¡µ which for each action indi-
     refers to Ó.
                                                                           cate which resources the executing process could have af-
        The definition of SW state is shown in Figure 3. The                fected or been affected by, respectively. The notion of a
     sanity conditions ensure that we do not have to deal with             subsystem having read the values of other resources can be
     nonsensical capabilities. The set of dead objects exists so           considered the inverse of mutation: instead of information
     that we can ensure that newly created objects are distinct            flowing out from the subsystem in question, it is flowing in-
     from any that have been destroyed. We treat processes as              ward. Therefore, we define the           Ö function in terms of
     completely non-deterministic, able to invoke any capabili-
     ties that they have in their possession.
                                                                           ÑÙØ Ø      : if Ü mutated Ý , then Ý must have read from Ü.

        The set of possible actions in the model are enumerated            4.4. Correctness of Access Control
     in Figure 4. We assume that each action is an operation
     performed by some process. The restrictions on the actions               The EROS system uses capabilities as its primitive pro-
     indicate the required access rights to perform the operation.         tection mechanism. The access restrictions of these capabil-


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               Action Type                          Restrictions                                     Description
               Ö ´Ô µ           ¼                     Û Ö Ö Ø×´ µ                  ¼                 read data from an object
               ÛÖ Ø ´Ô µ                             ÛÖ ¾ Ö Ø×´ µ                                    write data to an object
                 Ø ´Ô                                 Û Ö Ô× Ö Ø×´ µ
                                 ¼                                     ¼
                                ¼        ½µ                                        ¼                 fetch capability from an object
                                                      ½¾ Ë ´Ø Ö Ø´ µµ              ¼
               ×ØÓÖ ´Ô                   ½µ          ÛÖ ¾ Ö Ø×´ µ ¾ Ë                       Ô×´Ôµ    store capability to object
               Ö ÑÓÚ ´Ô                              ÛÖ ¾ Ö Ô×Ø×´ µ
                                ¼                                      ¼       ½
                                         ¼    ½µ                       ¼                             remove capability from object
                                                      ½¾ Ë ´Ø Ö Ø´ µµ              ¼
                ÒÚÓ ´Ô                        µ             Ö
                                                      Ü ¾ Ô× Ø×´ µ                                   invoke a process
                Ö Ø ´Ô µ
                                     ¼                                     ¼
                                                        Ë ´Ôµ                                        create new object with capabilities
                  ×ØÖÓÝ´Ô                ¼µ          ÛÖ ¾ Ö Ø×´ µ      ¼                             object destruction

                                                   In all cases,   Ô ¾ Ë Ü ×Ø ,        ¼   ¾ Ë Ô× ´Ôµ,                Ë Ô× ´Ôµ.

               «                                    semantics
               Ö ´Ô             ¼µ                    
               ÛÖ Ø ´Ô              ¼µ                
                Ø ´Ô                     ½µ         if   Ö ¾ Ö Ø×´         µ   then
                                                      Ë ¼ Ô×´Ôµ Ë Ô× ´Ôµ
                                ¼                                 ¼
                                                                                ½
                                                    else if Û ¾ Ö   Ø×´ ¼ µ then
                                                      Ë ¼ Ô×´Ôµ Ë Ô× ´Ôµ Ö ×ØÖ                      Ø´   ½        Û      µ
                                                    end
               ×ØÓÖ ´Ô                Ë ¼ Ô× Ë Ô× Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ Ë Ô×´Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µµ
                                         ½µ
               Ö ÑÓÚ ´Ô
                                ¼
                                ¼ ½ µ ˼
                                           Ô× Ë Ô× Ø Ö Ø´ µ Ë Ô×´Ø Ö Ø´ µµ   ½
                                                                 ¼                     ¼        ½
                ÒÚÓ ´Ô            µ   let Ô¼ Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ in
                                        Ë ¼ Ô× Ë Ô× Ô¼ Ë Ô×´Ô¼ µ
                              ¼
                                                                                Ç Ô´Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ Ü                                              µ
                Ö Ø ´Ô µ              let Ó¼ ¾ Ç      Ø   Ë Ü ×Ø   Ë in
                                        Ë ¼ Ü ×Ø Ë Ü ×Ø Ó¼
                                        Ë ¼ Ô× Ë Ô× Ó¼            Ô Ë Ô× ´Ôµ Ç             Ô´Ó¼ ʵ
                     ×ØÖÓÝ´Ô ¼ µ let                Ç Ô´Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ Öµ in
                                               Ö¾¾Ê
                                        Ë ¼ Ü ×Ø Ë Ü ×Ø   Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ
                                        ˼         Ë         Ø Ö Ø´ ¼ µ
                                        Ë ¼ Ô× Ö × ´Ë Ô× µ
                        All components of Ë ¼ are assumed to be the same as in Ë unless stated otherwise.

                                                          Figure 4. Operational Semantics of SW




           «                         Ö       ÖÓÑ´«µ ÛÖÓØ ØÓ´«µ «                                                         Ö        ÖÓÑ´«µ ÛÖÓØ ØÓ´«µ
           Ö ´Ô      ¼µ                  Ô Ø Ö Ø´ µ  Ô    ¼    Ö ÑÓÚ ´Ô                                      ¼    ½µ         Ô            Ø Ö Ø´ µ¼
           ÛÖ Ø ´Ô    ¼µ                 Ô           Ø Ö Ø´ µ Ò ÚÓ ´Ô          ¼                         ¼        µ          Ô            Ø Ö Ø´ µ¼
             Ø ´Ô          ½µ            Ô Ø Ö Ø´ µ  Ô          Ö Ø ´Ô µ                                                     Ô            Ô
           ×ØÓÖ ´Ô                                   Ø Ö Ø´ µ    ×ØÖÓÝ´Ô
                      ¼                                   ¼
                      ¼    ½µ            Ô                                     ¼                             ¼µ              Ô            Ô

                                              Figure 5. Definitions of              Ö         ÖÓÑ´«µ and ÛÖÓØ ØÓ´«µ

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     If
                  «
               ˼«  ½        ËÒ is an execution,                    ˼ Ü ×Ø   , and   Let Ê be the cpo where                            ÊÊ         ¾Ê and
              ˼     ½
                           Ë are subexecutions, then                                  is defined by

              ÑÙØ Ø        ´Ë¼ µ                                                                         Ü    Ý   µÜ Ý              Ü Ý¾Ê
              ÑÙØ Ø
                  ´        ´ ½µ
                           ØÓÖ´« µ½       if           Ö         ÖÓÑ´« µ
                                                                      ½
                                                                                           Figure 7. The complete partial order of at-
                     ´                    otherwise                                        tributes
                         ÛÖÓØ ØÓ´« µ  ½       if           ØÓÖ
                                                      ´«½ µ ¾
                                              otherwise
        ÑÙØ Ø ´ µ                                                                     bilities cannot be forged, a graph traversal can be done to
          ÑÙØ Ø Ñ ÙØ Ø   ´Ë     Ë µ       «
                                          ´   ½µ        ½    ½
                                                                                      compute whether any given resources can affect each other.
                                                                                      This is similar to a transitive closure, with the following
        Ö ´µ                                                                          added complexities:
            Ü ÑÙØ Ø Ü ´ µ                                                                  ¯   The resource relationships are restricted by capability

     Where Ö     ÖÓÑ´¡µ is defined as in Figure 5.
                                                                                               access rights.
                                                                                           ¯   Weak capabilities modify the rights of the capabilities
       Figure 6. The ÑÙØ Ø ´¡µ and Ö         ´¡µ relations                                     that are fetched through them.
                                                                                           ¯   Some capabilities result in two-way interactions be-
                                                                                               tween resources, while others are one-way.
     ities determine what actions are directly possible between                           We represent the relationship between two resources as
     system resources at run time. To avoid the need for addi-                        an element in a complete partial order (Figure 7). If
     tional run-time interpretation, it is desirable to state secu-                                                                 ÐÙ
                                                                                      Ê , let the least upper bound of , ´ µ, be defined in
     rity policies in terms of information flow expectations that                      the usual manner.
     can be statically expressed. The assumed correspondence                              The access relationship from ܽ to ܾ is the least up-
     between the expected information flow and the run time ex-                        per bound of the attributes of the capabilities that ܽ might
     ecution of the model must be verified. In this section we                         be able to obtain to ܾ . This relationship is not symmet-
     formalize some notions about access rights, so that later we                     ric. This representation relies on the fact that if ¼ and ½
     can verify:                                                                      are capabilities that are identical except for possibly having
          ¯   that these mechanisms correspond to the actual behav-                   different attributes, then      Ö Ø×
                                                                                                                         ´ ¼µ               Ö Ø×
                                                                                                                                         ´ ½ µ means

              ior of the system, and                                                  that any operation that can be performed using ¼ can also
                                                                                      be done using ½ .
          ¯   that the algorithms used by the system services are                         We first define the direct access relation between re-
              correct with respect to the access control mechanism,                   sources, which describes the relationship between resources
              in that they enforce our confinement policy.                             in a particular state. Using this, we define the potential ac-
     We are particularly interested in deriving meaningful, con-                      cess relation which defines the relationships that might exist
     servative approximations of the set of entities that a given                     in the future.
     subsystem might be able to mutate, and the set of entities                           If Ë ¾ Ë , then we define                 ËÖ           Ç ¢    Ø
     that the subsystem might gain information about. Formally,                       Ç         Ø   Ê by
     if Ë ¾ Ë , and                   Ç        Ø
                                      , the intended meaning of
                                                                                               Ö     Ë ´Ü    ݵ   ÐÙ           ÜÝ           ¾   Ëص
     ÑÙØ Ð      Ë ´ µ (resp.          Ö            Ð
                                         Ë ´ µ) is the set of enti-
                                                                                                                       ´   ´            µ

     ties that directly or indirectly mutates (resp. reads) from
                                                                                                    ËØ           Ø Ö Ø´ µ Ö Ø×´ µµ
                                                                                      where
     some execution beginning with state Ë . Note that the mu-                                                    ´Ó
     table and readable functions are parameterized by a single                                                        Ó¾Ç   Ø ¾ Ë Ô×´Óµ
     state – the operating system has to be able to make these                                                ´Ø Ö Ø´ µ Ó      µ
     judgments based only on the current system state, unlike                                                    Ó¾Ç         Ø ¾ Ë Ô×´Óµ
     the requirements which can state what happens during an                                                      Ü ¾ Ö Ø×´ µ
     entire execution.                                                                   One detail of the definition of      Ö Ë deserves em-
        The weak access right, while essential to the architec-                       phasis. If Ó ¾ Ç       Ø has a capability , then Ó is clearly
     ture, introduces significant complication. Intuitively, one                       related to Ø Ö Ø´ µ. However, if conveys Ü rights,
     can draw a directed, labeled graph showing the relationship                      this relationship is symmetric: Ø Ö Ø´ µ is also related to
     between all the resources in the system. Since all interac-                      Ó. The intuition behind this is that interprocess communi-
     tions between resources occur via capabilities, and capa-                        cation may authorize a reply. In our operational semantics,


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     a reply capability is explicitly synthesized by the          ´)Ò ÚÓ         Theorem 1 (Main Theorem):
                                                                                       «       «Ò
                                                                                 If ˼   ½ ˽     ËÒ is an execution, then for any
                                                                                 ˼ Ü ×Ø ,
     operation.
        We construct          È ÓØË by using every capability indi-
     cated in         Ö  Ë to fetch every possible capability from
                                                                                 ÑÙØ Ø ´Ë  «
                                                                                                                 ËÒ µ ˼ Ü ×Ø     ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´
          Ö
                                                                                                         ½
                                                                                                ¼                                               ¼     µ
               Ë , obtaining a new, stronger relationship, and then
     repeating:                                                                   Ö ´Ë   «       ½
                                                                                                             ËÒ µ ˼ Ü ×Ø       Ö    ÐË´ µ
                                                              È ÓØ
                                                                                            ¼                                               ¼
        If Ë ¾ Ë , then the potential access relation,          Ë is
     the limit of the series ̼ ̽ ̾       where
                                                                                          Figure 8. Main verification theorem
                     ̼                Ö     Ë
         Ü Ý Ì ·½ ´Ü ݵ           ÐÙ   ´   Ì ´Ü ݵ     ÓÑ Ò ´Ì µ´Ü ݵ µ          If new objects could not be created, then one could merely
                                                                                 require that for any execution proceeding from state ˼ ,
     If       is a SW resource relationship, then            ÓÑ Ò ´        µ
                                                                                 ÑÙØ Ø         ´ µ       ÑÙØ Ð  ˼ ´ µ [and similarly for read].
     Ç          Ø Ç Ø
                  ¢            Ê is defined to be:                                   What we wish to require of new objects is that no process
                                                                                 can use such an object to amplify its authority. However, it
              ÓÑ Ò ´ µ´Ü Þµ                                                      would not be reasonable for the system to make any other a
               ÐÙ ´      Ý¾Ç                     Ø                               priori assumptions about the behavior of objects that do not
                                 such that           ØÖ Ò×     ××´Ü Ý Þµ µ       exist. This is captured in our main theorem (Figure 8) by the
     where                                                                       fact that the mutated function tracks mutations that occur by
                                                                                 means of new objects. The intersection with ˼ Ü ×Ø re-
              ØÖ Ò×           ××´Ü Ý Þµ                                          moves only the new objects from the set of changed objects,
                                if ´Ü Ý µ                                        but not their effects on the remainder of the system.
                      ´Ý Þµ     if   Ö Ü               ´Ü ݵ                        We first define the set of resources that exist at a given
                     Û          if   Û Ö Ü                 ´Ü Ý µ     Û          state of the system, and then use this to state our main theo-
                                and   Û Ö              ´Ý Þ µ
                                                                                 rem.

                                otherwise                                        Definition 2:
                                                                                 If Ë is a state, then Ë      Ü ×Ø    is defined to be the following
     Lemma 2:
                              È ÓØ                                               subset of Ç         Ø
                                                                                                     :
     The definition of                  Ë is well-defined. That is, the se-
     quence ̼ ̽               converges.
                                                                                                    Ë Ü ×Ø           Ë Ü ×Ø Ë
          Finally, with       È ÓØË we can define             ÑÙØ Ð         and
     Ö           Ð (Definition 1).                                                   The lemmas that allow us to prove this theorem are

     Definition 1 (The          ÑÙØ Ð ´¡µ and Ö               Ð ´¡µ relations):   shown in Figure 10. These lemmas state the essential prop-
                                                                                 erties of SW which account for its security. The Execution
     If Ë ¾ Ë , then
              ÑÙØ Ð µË´
                                                                                 Reduces Authority lemma states that the power that a sub-
                  Ý Ü¾     ÛÖ Ü       È ÓØ                     Ë ´Ü   ݵ
                                                                                 system can obtain only decreases during an execution: the
              Ö    Ð Ë´ µ                                                        subsystem can lose capabilities, but cannot create new ca-
                  Ü     ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ Ü µ                                            pabilities that increase its authority. The number of capa-
                                                                                 bilities can grow, but the implied authority can only shrink.
     Lemma 3:                                                                    The Mutation Implies Mutable lemma states that if a re-
     For all Ü            Ý Ç Ø, states Ë ,                                      source becomes mutated by an operation, then it must have
                                                                                 previously been mutable.
                          ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´Üµ ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´Ýµ                                   With these properties, the main theorem follows (Fig-
                                                                                 ure 9).
     4.5. Verification Proof                                                         Finally, we must show that the EROS constructor mech-
                                                                                 anism satisfies the confinement requirements. The re-
        We can now state the major theorem (Figure 8). In any                    quester specifies at construction time a set of capabilities
     execution of the system, anything that was actually mutated                  ÙØ ÓÖ Þ       that are permitted exceptions to the confine-
     or read by a subsystem was considered mutable or read-                      ment boundary. The constructor builds a new process Ô
     able by the operating system. The statement of the theo-                    from the set of capabilities that it is given by the builder.
     rem is more subtle than one might have at first expected.                    If Ë is the current state, then for all executions from Ë ,


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     We proceed by induction on the value of . The base case is trivial.
                                                        «        «
     In the induction step, let denote the execution ˼   ½       Ë . Assume that for all sets                                                  ,

                                                  ÑÙØ Ø                    ´   Ò ½ µ        ˼ Ü ×Ø             ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´         ¼       µ

     We want to show

                                                   ÑÙØ Ø                       ´   Òµ   ˼ Ü ×Ø                 ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´     ¼       µ

     This follows because:
      ÑÙØ Ø         ´   Òµ     ˼ Ü ×Ø
                 ÑÙØ Ø                        «Ò             Ü ×Ø
                                  Ò  ´ËÒ     ËÒ µ Ë
                                Ñ ÙØ Ø        ´   ½µ       ½                                ¼
                 ´ÑÙØ  Ð ËÒ  ´ÑÙØ Ø ´ Ò  µµ ÑÙØ Ø ´ Ò  µµ ËÜ ×ØÜ ×Ø
                                          ½                        ½                                        ½             ¼               by Lemma 5
                 ´ÑÙØ  Ð ËÒ  ´ÑÙØ Ø ´ Ò  µµ ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ µµ Ë
                                          ½                        ½                                ¼             ¼                       by induction hypothesis
                 ´´ÑÙØ  Ð Ë ´Ü ×Ø Ø ´ Ò  µµ Ë Ü ×Ø µ ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ µµ
                             ÑÙØ      ¼                        ½                   ¼                                  ¼                   by Lemma 4
                          Ë
                 ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ µµ ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ µ
                                      ¼

                                  ¼               ¼                                     ¼                                                 induction hypothesis,
                                                                                                                                          mutable() is monotonic
                 ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ µ      ¼                                                                                                       by definition
     The proof that Ö  and Ö      Ð are related follows easily from the definitions.
                                                       Figure 9. Proof outline for main theorem

     Lemma 4 (Execution Reduces Authority):                                                             from the fact that the requester initially holds no capabil-
           «
     If ˼   ˽ , then for all ,                                                                        ities to the objects comprising the yield. When the yield
     ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´                ˼ Ü ×Ø         ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´                        ˼ Ü ×Ø
                                                                                                        first begins execution, only those capabilities contained in
                ½       µ                                  ¼                                    µ
                                                                                                        the holes represent possible leaks to the requester. Unless
                                                                                                        the yield consents to be inspected by transmitting capabili-
     Lemma 5 (Mutation Implies Mutable):                                                                ties through one of these holes, its encapsulation is assured.
           «
     If ˼   ˽ , then for all ,
                                                                                                        5. Related Work
        ÑÙØ Ø           ´ ¼
                              «
                            Ë   ˽ µ              ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´            ¼           µ

                                                                                                        Noninterference:       Rushby’s discussion of intransitive
              Figure 10. Major system properties                                                        non-interference [16] applies a similar kind of information
                                                                                                        flow analysis to the one used here, extending earlier work
                                                                                                        by Haigh and Young [5] and by Goguen and Meseguer [4].
     confinement requires that                                                                           That formulation is more general than the technique used

      ÑÙØ Ø         Ô   ´ µ     ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ ÙØ ÓÖ Þ µ
                                 Ô
                                                                                                        here, but would require extension to deal with systems in
                                                                                                        which access rights are transferable. In particular, there is
     The constructor requires that ÓÐ ×      ÙØ ÓÖ Þ , and                                              no provision in the Rushby formulation for the actions of
     therefore requires (by Lemma 3) that ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ ÓÐ ×µ
                                                                                                        the step function to revise the security assertions as access
     ÑÙØ Ð Ë ´ ÙØ ÓÖ Þ µ. In other words, the client has                                                rights are legitimately propagated or mandatory constraints
                                                                                                        are revised.
     stated permission for information to flow via the holes. Pro-
     vided the non-holes do not leak information, the “yield” of                                        PSOS: Neumann et al. constructed extensive proof syn-
     the constructor is properly sandboxed.                                                             thesis mechanisms in connection with PSOS [13]. While a
        With the main theorem, this is easy to show. The con-                                           proof sketch of the security properties of this system was
     structor is very conservative – the capabilities it consid-                                        included in the report, no proof of correctness for confine-
     ers as “safe” are those which will add no elements to                                              ment in the PSOS system has been published. The proof
     ÑÙØ Ð      ´Ôµ. The only other capabilities it gives Ô are                                         sketched in the report fails to demonstrate that the opera-
     members of the authorized set, so the statement of correct-                                        tional semantics of the system architecture actually satisfies
     ness follows immediately from the theorem.                                                         the specification.
        The encapsulation of the constructor “yield” follows                                            Mandatory Policy Enforcement:              Boebert [1] and


0-7695-0665-8/00 $10.00 ã 2000 IEEE
     Karger [9] show that pure capability systems cannot enforce       quently, there is no need to consider transitively accessible
     the *-property. While their conclusion is correct, capability     mutation rights. Were such a capability introduced, some
     systems do provide sufficient strength to construct manda-         variant of theÛ     right described here would be required.
     tory policies at a higher level of abstraction with reasonable       By permitting the client to authorize exceptions to the
     performance, as has been done in KeySafe [14].                    immutability constraint, the confinement policy defined
        Karger has also shown that unmodified capability sys-           here slightly extends the memoryless execution policy. By
     tems cannot enforce the confinement policy [8]. The appar-         permitting recursive use of constructors that produce con-
     ent discrepancy results from differences in term definition.       fined subsystems, the confinement policy enables a form of
     Karger’s confinement policy is a mandatory access control          object-based software construction that is not possible un-
     policy: “this piece of information must not be disclosed          der the memoryless execution constraint. Recursive con-
     to that set of unauthorized parties.” That is, it is a policy     struction enables EROS to bootstrap “copy on write” ad-
     concerning the flow of information to subjects. Lampson’s          dress spaces, and can therefore be used to perform object
     confinement problem [10] imposes a weaker constraint: in-          instance creation. The most common use of the EROS con-
     formation can flow out of the subsystem only through au-           structor is to create new process instances in this way.
     thorized channels. That is, in the Lampson definition the             Jones also proposes a rights amplification operation that
     channels define an encapsulation boundary to be enforced.          must be handled with considerable care, lest the supposedly
     KeySafe: The KeySafe system [14] implements a ref-                restricted subsystem gain mutate rights in unforeseen ways.
     erence monitor that mediates interactions across compart-         Amplify operations appear to have been excluded from the
     ments. Each compartment is a confined subsystem created            systems verified in the thesis.
     by the reference monitor. Creating compartments in this
     fashion ensures that no unauthorized channels out of the          6. Conclusion
     compartment exist, and also that no inspection of the com-
     partment contents is permitted.                                       We have specified the security requirements and opera-
        Compartments in KeySafe can be used to encapsulate             tions of a real operating system, and provided a formal def-
     security levels, users, intersections of level and user, or       inition for one security policy: confinement. We have de-
     any other entity that the security policy wishes to describe.     veloped a methodology and proof structure for this policy,
     The granularity of policy enforcement under KeySafe is the        and shown that it is enforced. This methodology general-
     compartment rather than the process.                              izes to information flow problems in many capability-based
        Where the security policy permits transfer of capabilities     architectures. The constructor implementation performs the
     from one compartment to another, the reference monitor            confinement check in no worse than Ò ÐÓ Ò time, where Ò
     substitutes a capability to a transparent forwarding object       is the number of holes known to the constructor. Construc-
     to allow later revocation. This is similar to the indirection     tion is significantly faster than the equivalent UNIX fork
     mechanism proposed by Redell [15]. Cross-compartment              and exec combination [20].
     calls are relatively rare, and the overhead of this indirection       The SW model faithfully captures EROS. This was not
     (once established) is low. Intracompartment invocations in-       accidental; both EROS and KeyKOS intentionally provide
     cur no overhead from the reference monitor.                       as “pure” a model as the architects could contrive to build.
        We believe that the KeySafe architecture can enforce           Related work on the EROS implementation has demon-
     both the *-property and Karger’s confinement policy, but           strated that a pure capability system of this form can be
     this does not directly contradict their claims. KeySafe is a      made to perform quite well [19, 20].
     reference monitor built on top of a more primitive capability         Verifications such as this one have considerable practi-
     mechanism; such a reference monitor constitutes a modified         cal utility. SW’s operational semantics was constructed by
     capability system in the sense of Karger’s discussion.            reducing the behavior of a real system to a manageable col-
     Memoryless Execution: Jones’ dissertation [7] discusses           lection of primitives. Constructing the operational seman-
     computing a closure containing all protection states that         tics revealed an implementation error in the real system. It
     can be derived from an initial protection state by the per-       also enabled the architecture to be significantly improved
     formance of “environment transforming functions.” She             by providing a clear identification of those aspects of the
     demonstrates the enforcement of a number of security poli-        semantics that were truly essential to security. Best of all, it
     cies using this sort of transitive closure, including a “Memo-    did so at modest cost.
     ryless Execution” policy closely related to our confinement            The Execution Reduces Authority lemma provides a
     policy. The memoryless execution policy allows the called         powerful simplifying tool in analyzing security issues. Both
     procedure to modify its parameters, but does not allow mod-       the statement of requirements and the corresponding proof
     ification of other objects. There appears to be no capability      are drastically more complicated in systems that permit am-
     in Jones’ model that names environments directly. Conse-          plification of authority. Indeed, this lemma seems worth


0-7695-0665-8/00 $10.00 ã 2000 IEEE
     adopting as a basic principle of operating system design.          [7] A. K. Jones. Protection in Programmed Systems. PhD thesis,
         Capabilities provide two characteristics that are essential        Carnegie-Mellon University, 1973.
     to the proof structure we have adopted. First, they combine        [8] P. Karger. Improving Security and Performance for Capa-
     denotation and access rights into a single entity, which al-           bility Systems. PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, Oct.
     lows straightforward construction of the mutable and read-             1988. Technical Report No. 149.
     able relations. Second, they are unforgeable, which guaran-        [9] P. A. Karger and A. J. Herbert. An augmented capability
     tees that this construction is closed. An equivalent security          architecture to support lattice security and traceability of ac-
     analysis for ACL-based systems would be more complex:                  cess. In Proc. of the 1984 IEEE Symposium on Security and
     modifications to a given resource’s access control list have            Privacy, pages 2–12, Oakland, CA, Apr. 1984. IEEE.
     non-local consequences in the accessibility graphs, and may       [10] B. W. Lampson. A note on the confinement problem. Com-
     violate the closure.                                                   munications of the ACM, 16(10):613–615, 1973.
         Capability systems provide a natural framework for            [11] C. R. Landau. The checkpoint mechanism in KeyKOS. In
     typed, protected objects. Component architectures such as              Proc. Second International Workshop on Object Orientation
     COM and CORBA are increasingly used for critical sys-                  in Operating Systems, pages 86–91. IEEE, Sept. 1992.
     tems. Applications constructed using these technologies
                                                                       [12] J. Liedtke. Improving IPC by kernel design. In Proc. 14th
     may be viewed as subsystems connected by capabilities. We
                                                                            ACM Symposium on Operating System Principles, pages
     expect that forthcoming e-Commerce applications will be                175–188. ACM, 1993.
     built using similar application frameworks. Therefore, se-
                                                                       [13] P. G. Neumann, R. S. Boyer, R. J. Feiertag, K. N. Levitt, and
     curity policy enforcement in capability systems is a critical
                                                                            L. Robinson. A provably secure operating system: The sys-
     area of future research.                                               tem, its applications, and proofs. Technical Report Report
                                                                            CSL-116, Computer Science Laboratory, may 1980.
     7. Acknowledgements                                               [14] S. A. Rajunas. The KeyKOS/KeySAFE system design.
                                                                            Technical Report SEC009-01, Key Logic, Inc., Mar. 1989.
        Norm Hardy, the principal architect of KeyKOS, first                 http://www.cis.upenn.edu/˜KeyKOS.
     suggested the need for this proof and its feasibility. Carl       [15] D. D. Redell. Naming and Protection in Extensible Operat-
     Gunter, Jonathan Smith, and Insup Lee of the University of             ing Systems. PhD thesis, University of California at Berke-
     Pennsylvania provided comments and feedback on this pa-                ley, 1974.
     per at various stages. Maria Ebling, Stephen Holton, Guer-        [16] J. R. Rushby. Noninterference, transitivity, and channel-
     ney Hunt, and Paul Karger of IBM also provided extensive               control security policies. Technical Report CSL-92-02,
     feedback, as did Chris Okasaki of Columbia University.                 Computer Science Laboratory, SRI International, Dec. 1992.
                                                                       [17] J. S. Shapiro. The EROS Object Reference Manual.
     References                                                        [18] J. S. Shapiro. EROS: A Capability System. PhD thesis, Uni-
                                                                            versity of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 1999.
      [1] W. E. Boebert. On the inability of an unmodified capability
                                                                       [19] J. S. Shapiro, D. J. Farber, and J. M. Smith. The mea-
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