Restrict System Calls with Systrace Interactive Policies

One of the most powerful system access controls is the Systrace utility that allows enforcement of interactive policies. Proper utilization of this utility can replace other access controls, or be added to them, as part of a defense-in-depth architecture. It essentially creates a virtual chrooted environment where access to system resources can be specifically permitted or denied for a particular application. The Systrace utility has three primary functions:

• Intrusion detection

• Noninteractive policy enforcement

• Privilege elevation

Intrusion Detection The Systrace utility enables administrative personnel to monitor daemons (especially useful if done on remote machines) and generate warnings for system calls that identify operations not defined by an existing policy. This allows administrators to create profiles for normal daemon operations on a particular system and generate alerts for any abnormal activity.

Noninteractive Policy Enforcement (aka IPS) Beyond the ability for Systrace to generate alerts for system calls not included in a particular policy, you can also use it to prevent them. Systrace can be configured to deny any activity not explicitly defined in an active policy.

Privilege Elevation Instead of configuring SetUID/SUID/SGID bits, which can essentially create built-in vulnerabilities, Systrace can be used to execute an application without persistent permissions, as it only escalates permissions to the desired level when necessary. Furthermore, Systrace only elevates privileges in a precise, fine-grained manner, specifically for the particular operations that require them.

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