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Security Patterns in Practice: Designing Secure Architectures Using Software Patterns by Eduardo Fernandez-Buglioni

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CHAPTER 9

Patterns for Secure OS Architecture and Administration

A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.

Louis Kahn

9.1 Introduction

Operating systems act as an intermediary between the user of a computer and its hardware. The purpose of an operating system is to provide an environment in which users can execute programs in convenient and efficient manner [Sil08]. They control and coordinate the available resources to present an abstract machine with convenient features to the user. The architecture of the operating system organizes components to structure its functional and non-functional aspects. The security of operating systems is very critical, since they support the execution of all applications. Most of the reported attacks occur through the operating system. The security of individual execution-time actions such as process creation and memory protection is very important, and we presented patterns for these functions in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8. However, the general architecture of the operating system is also very important to the system’s ability to provide a secure execution environment.

Most operating systems use five basic architectures [Sil08] [Tan08]. One, the monolithic architecture, has little value for security and it is only mentioned as a possible variant of the modular architecture. We present here patterns representing these four architectures (Figure 9.1 ...

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