LinuxSecurity.com
Share your story
The central voice for Linux and Open Source security news
Home News Topics Advisories HOWTOs Features Newsletters About Register

Welcome!
Sign up!
EnGarde Community
Login
Polls
What is the most important Linux security technology?
 
Advisories
Community
Linux Events
Linux User Groups
Link to Us
Security Center
Book Reviews
Security Dictionary
Security Tips
SELinux
White Papers
Featured Blogs
All About Linux
DanWalsh LiveJournal
Securitydistro
Latest Newsletters
Linux Advisory Watch: September 19th, 2014
Linux Security Week: September 15th, 2014
Subscribe
LinuxSecurity Newsletters
E-mail:
Choose Lists:
About our Newsletters
RSS Feeds
Get the LinuxSecurity news you want faster with RSS
Powered By

  
Fail Safe

7.9. Fail Safe

A secure program should always ``fail safe'', that is, it should be designed so that if the program does fail, the safest result should occur. For security-critical programs, that usually means that if some sort of misbehavior is detected (malformed input, reaching a ``can't get here'' state, and so on), then the program should immediately deny service and stop processing that request. Don't try to ``figure out what the user wanted'': just deny the service. Sometimes this can decrease reliability or useability (from a user's perspective), but it increases security. There are a few cases where this might not be desired (e.g., where denial of service is much worse than loss of confidentiality or integrity), but such cases are quite rare.

Note that I recommend ``stop processing the request'', not ``fail altogether''. In particular, most servers should not completely halt when given malformed input, because that creates a trivial opportunity for a denial of service attack (the attacker just sends garbage bits to prevent you from using the service). Sometimes taking the whole server down is necessary, in particular, reaching some ``can't get here'' states may signal a problem so drastic that continuing is unwise.

Consider carefully what error message you send back when a failure is detected. if you send nothing back, it may be hard to diagnose problems, but sending back too much information may unintentionally aid an attacker. Usually the best approach is to reply with ``access denied'' or ``miscellaneous error encountered'' and then write more detailed information to an audit log (where you can have more control over who sees the information).

    
Partner

 

Latest Features
Peter Smith Releases Linux Network Security Online
Securing a Linux Web Server
Password guessing with Medusa 2.0
Password guessing as an attack vector
Squid and Digest Authentication
Squid and Basic Authentication
Demystifying the Chinese Hacking Industry: Earning 6 Million a Night
Free Online security course (LearnSIA) - A Call for Help
What You Need to Know About Linux Rootkits
Review: A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux - Fifth Edition
Yesterday's Edition
Encryption goof fixed in TorrentLocker file-locking malware
Qubes: The Open Source OS Built for Security
Partner Sponsor

Community | HOWTOs | Blogs | Features | Book Reviews | Networking
 Security Projects |  Latest News |  Newsletters |  SELinux |  Privacy |  Home
 Hardening |   About Us |   Advertise |   Legal Notice |   RSS |   Guardian Digital
(c)Copyright 2014 Guardian Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.