Glenn C. Everhart
General Cybernetic EnterprisesCourtesy Links:
if looking for Granite City Electric go toGranite City Electric website
To go to the site of the Groupe Caisse d'Epargne, click here:
GCE is the source for Safety, a security product for VMS which is
distributed on VMS SIG tapes. If your needs are for somewhat more
advanced capabilities contact us.
(The site is owned and operated by Glenn and Mary Everhart)
Software Product DescriptionSafety V1.4
Comprehensive Data Safety for your VMS systems.
from General Cybernetic Enterprises
There are many perils your data faces, and loss of data can cost time, money, and jobs. Intruders, disgruntled insiders, or
hidden flaws in installed software can destroy records. What is
more, mistaken losses occur constantly.
Safety protects your system and your critical data in three ways:
1. A comprehensive security system adds extra checks for access
to VMS files so that access by intruders or by people in
non-job-required ways can be regulated or prevented. This allows
your business - critical data to finally be protected against
misuse, tampering, or abuse. Access from programs doing
background dirty work (viruses, Trojans, worms, and the like, or
even programs with security holes which can be exploited
remotely (like Java browsers)) can also be blocked without
damaging normal use. This active protection works three ways: by
checking integrity of your files against tampering, by
preventing of untrusted images from gaining privilege, and by
regulating what other parts of the system an image may access.
2. A deletion protection system provides a way to undelete files
which were deleted by mistake and to optionally copy deleted
files to backup facilities before removal. Unlike all other VMS
"undelete" programs on the market, this facility does not rely
on finding the disk storage that contained the file and
reclaiming it before it is overwritten. Rather, it changes the
semantics of the file system delete to use a "wastebasket"
system and captures the file intact. Thus, this system works
reliably. No others do. This facility is also useful where you
have a requirement to keep all files of a certain set of types,
since the backup function can be used to capture such files
while permitting otherwise normal system function. The shelving
or linking functions are also available for moving copies
offline if this is desired. The Safety protection features are
fully integrated with the DPS subsystem, so that deletion
protection does not involve destroying file security.
3. When space runs out, hasty decisions about what to keep
online often must be made, and the risk of accidentally losing
something important is high. Safety protects you from running
out of space. Space can be monitored and older items in the
wastebasket deleted if it is becoming low, without manual
intervention. In addition, Safety is able to "shelve" files so
that they are stored anywhere else desired on your system, and
they are brought back automatically when accessed. Thus no
manual arrangements need be made for reloading them. Safety can
also keep the files on secondary storage, keeping a "soft link"
to the files at their original site so they will be accessed on
the secondary storage instead. Also, Safety can store files
compressed, or can store them on secondary storage so that read
access is done on the secondary storage, but write access causes
the file to be copied back to its original site. Standard VMS
utilities are used for all file movement, and moved files are
also directly accessible in their swapped sites with standard
VMS utilities. The VMS file system remains completely valid at
Safety gives you a full complement of tools for dealing with
space issues automatically according to your site policy. These
facilities are safe and easily understood. A comprehensive
utility is provided by which you set your site policy to select
which files are and are not eligible for automatic shelving.
Also you are provided with screen oritented utilities for
selecting files to shelve at any time. Access to the shelved
files of course causes unshelving if the normal shelving-by-copy
mode is used. Also, a simple set of rules permit locating
shelved or softlink target files at any time, even without
Safety running. Safety at no time invalidates your file
structures for normal VMS access...not even for an instant.
In addition Safety contains functions to speed file access and
inhibit disk fragmentation.
The major subsystems of Safety will now be described.
The Security Function System:
Managing access to data critical to your business using ACL
facilities in native VMS can be cumbersome and still is
vulnerable to intruders or people acting in excess of their
Want to be sure your critical records can't be accessed save at
authorized places, times, and with the programs that are
supposed to access them (instead of, say, COPY.EXE)?
Want to have protection against privileged users bypasssing
Want to be able to password protect individual files?
Want to be able to invisibly hide selected files from
Have you read that attacks on machines can happen because a scripting
browser points at a web site that damages the system (as has
been reported in the press)? Want to be able to protect your
The Safety security subsystem builds in facilities permitting
all of these, and is not vulnerable to intruders who disable the
AUDIT facility as all other commercial packages which purport to
monitor access are.
Description: When your business depends on critical files, or
when you are obliged by law or contract to maintain
confidentiality of data on your system, in most cases the
options provided by VMS for securing this data can be cumbersome
and far too coarse-grained.
The problem is that certain kinds of access to data are often
needed by people in a shop, but other access should be prevented
and audited. Moreover, the wide system access that can come as a
result of having system privileges often does not mean that it
should be used to browse or disclose data stored on the system.
A system manager will in general not, for example, have any
valid reason to browse the customer contact file, the payroll
database, or a contract negotiation file, save in a few cases
where these files need to be repaired or reloaded from backups.
Likewise, a payroll clerk may need read and write access to the
payroll file, but not in general with the COPY utility, nor from
a modem, nor in most cases at 4AM. Finally, a person who must
have privileges to design a driver and test it should ordinarily
not have the run of the file system as well.
Given examples like these, it is easy to see that simple
authorization of user access to files is inadequate. While it is
possible to build systems that grant identifiers to attempt some
extra control, these can be circumvented by privilege, and
create very long ACLs which become impossible to administer over
a long period as users come and go.
What is needed is a mechanism that is secure, cannot be
circumvented by turning on privileges, and which provides a
simple to administer and fine grained control that lets you
specify who can get at your critical files, with what images,
when, from where, and with what privileges. It is also desirable
to be able to control what privileges the images ever see, and
to be able to check critical command files or images for
tampering before use, so that they cannot be used as back doors
to your system. It should be possible to demand extra
authentication for particular files as well, and to prevent a
malicious user from even seeing a particularly critical file
unless he can be permitted access.
The Safety security subsystem is a VMS add-in security package
which provides abilities to control security problems due to
intruders, to damage or loss by system "insiders" (users
exceeding their authority), and to covert code (worms and
viruses). It provides a much easier management interface to
handle security permissions than bare VMS and provides
facilities permitting control over even privileged file
accesses, for cases where there are privileged users whose
access should be limited. Unlike systems which only intercept
the AUDIT output, EACF can and does protect against ANY file
accesses, and can protect files against deletion by unauthorized
people or programs in real time as well as against access.
The Safety security subsystem offers the following capabilities:
* Files can be password protected individually. If a file open
or delete is attempted for such a file and no password has been
entered, the open or delete fails.
* Access can be controlled by time of day. Added protections can
be in place only some of the time, access can be denied some
times of day, write accesses can be denied at certain times, or
various other modalities of access can be allowed.
* You can control who may access a file, where they may be (or
may not be), with what images they may or may not access the
file, and with what privileges the file may be accessed. Thus,
for instance, it is trivial to allow a clerk access to the
payroll file with the payroll programs, but not with COPY or
BACKUP, not on dialup lines, and not if they have unexpected
privileges. The privilege checks can be helpful where there are
consultants working on a system who should be denied access to
sensitive corporate information but who need privileges to
develop programs, or in similar circumstances. You specify what
privileges are permitted for opening the file, and a process
with excess privileges is prevented from access. Vital business
data access should not always be implied by someone having
privilege. With this system you can be sure your proprietary
plans or data stay in house, and are available only to those
with business reasons to need them, not to everyone needing
system privileges for unrelated reasons. Unlike packages using
the VMS Audit facility's output (which can be silently turned
off by public domain code), Safety cannot be circumvented by
well known means. Its controls are designed to leave evidence of
what was done with them as well.
* You can specify that images (programs) able to run portable code (applet
viewing programs or programs with powerful scripting languages)
trigger a "paranoid mode" system. When this is triggered
(normally when the "loading" image is active), all file opens
by the process running the triggering image are filtered by a
script. This script can be different for different programs,
and is site customized. The furnished sample script will
broadcast the identity of user and of files being opened. It is
trivial to arrange to limit this to unusual files or filesystem
areas. The script can also veto the open. Thus the recommended
way to treat web browsers is to limit their file access so they
may read system areas and a scratch area, and may write only a
scratch area. (The script is informed whether the open is for
read or for write.) This "low-integrity-image" mode in which
all file opens are checked with a site script which can report
or veto access. This can be used to track or regulate what a
Java applet can do, in case someone happens to browse a web
site which exploits a Java hole to browse your system or damage
* You can hide files from unauthorized access. If someone not
authorized to access a file tries to open it, they can be set to
open instead some other file anywhere on the system. Meanwhile,
Safety generates alarms and can execute site specific commands
to react to the illegal access before it can happen. This can be
helpful in gathering evidence of what a saboteur is up to
without exposing real sensitive files to danger. Normal access
goes through transparently.
* You can arrange that opening a file grants identifiers to the
process that opens it and that closing it revokes these
identifiers. Set an interpretive file to do this and set it to
be openable only by the interpreter and you have a protected
subsystem capability that works for 4GLs which are interpretive.
(Safety identifier granting, privilege modification, and base
priority alteration is protected by a cryptographic
authenticator preventing forging or duplication.)
* You can actively prevent covert code ( viruses and worms) from
running in two ways. First, Safety can attach a cryptographic
checksum to a file such that the file will not open if it has
been tampered with. Second, Safety can attach a privilege mask
to a file which will replace all privilege masks for the process
that opens it. By setting such a mask to minimal privileges, you
can ensure that an untrusted image will never see a very
privileged environment, and thus will be unable to perform
privilege-based intrusions into your system even if run from a
privileged user's account.
* You can control base priority by image. Thus, a particularly
CPU intensive image can be made to run at lower than normal base
priority even if it is run interactively.
* You can run a site-chosen script to further refine selection
criteria. (Some facilities for doing additional checking while
an image runs exist also.)
Safety allows you to exempt certain images (e.g., disk
defragmenters) from access checks, and it is possible to put a
process into a temporary override mode also (leaving a record
this was done) where this is needed. Safety facilities are
controllable per disk, and impose generally negligible overhead.
Safety will work with any VMS file structure using the normal
driver interfaces. Also, Safety marking information resides
sufficiently in kernel space that it cannot be removed from
lower access modes, yet it uses a limited amount of memory
regardless of volume size.
Best of all, the Safety protection is provided within the file
system and does not depend on the audit facility. Thus it
prevents file access or loss before it happens, and does not
have to react to it afterwards. Safety allows all of its
security provisions to be managed together in a simple
screen-oriented display in which files, or groups of files, can
be tagged with the desired security profiles or edited as
desired. Safety protections are in addition to normal VMS file
protections, which are left completely intact. Therefore, no
existing security is broken or even altered. Safety simply adds
additional checking which finally provides a usable machine
encoding of "need to know" for the files where it matters.
The Safety Deletion Protection Subsystem.
Description: The Safety Deletion Protection System is designed
to provide protection against accidental deletion of file types
chosen by the site, and to allow files to be routed by the
system to backup media before they are finally removed from the
system. This is accomplished by an add-in to the VMS file system
so that security holes are not introduced by the system's
The user interface is an UNDELETE command which permits one or
more files to be restored to their original locations provided
it is issued within the site-chosen time window after the
undesired deletion took place. In addition, an EXPUNGE command
is provided which allows files to be deleted at once,
irretrievably, where space for such is required. Provision for
automatic safe-storing of files prior to final deletion is
present also in Safety DPS.
Safety DPS is implemented as a VMS file system add-in which
functions by intercepting the DELETE operation and allowing the
file to be deleted to be copied or renamed to a "wastebasket"
holding area pending final action, and to be disposed of by a
disposal agent. The supplied agent will allow a site script to
save the files if this is desired, and then finally deletes any
files which have been deleted more than some number N seconds
ago. If the UNDELETE command is given, the file(s) undeleted are
replaced in their original sites. The supplied system can also
be configured to rename files to a wastebasket area or to copy
them directly, for undeletion by systems people only. (These
options are faster than the site command file option.)
Safety DPS can be configured to omit certain file types from
deletion protection (for example, *.LIS* or *.MAP* could be
omitted), to include only certain files in the protected sets,
or both. This can reduce the overhead of saving files which are
likely to be easily recreated, or tailor the system for such
actions as saving all mail files (by selecting *.MAI for
In addition, Safety DPS monitors free space on disks, and when a
file create or extend would cause space exhaustion, Safety DPS
runs a site script. By setting this script to perform final
deletions, Safety DPS can be run in a purely automatic mode in
which deleted files are saved as long as possible, but never
less than some minimum period (e.g., 5 or 10 minutes).
Safety DPS files can be stored in any location accessible to
VMS. If they are renamed, they must reside on the same disk they
came from. Otherwise they can be stored in any desired place.
Safety DPS is installed and configured using a screen oriented
configuration utility to set it up, and basically runs
unattended once installed.
The Safety Storage Migration Subsystem
Safety has the ability to move files to secondary storage and
automatically retrieve them when they are accessed. This backing
can be similar to what HSM systems call "shelving", though it
can be done in multiple levels, or it can be done in a way which
permits files moved to secondary storage to be accessed there as
though the files remained online. This resembles what are called
"soft links" in Unix systems, in that file opens are
transparently redirected to a file stored somewhere else
reachable on the system, and the channel reset to the original
device on close. A "readonly link" mode acts like a soft link
for readonly access, and like an unshelve operation where a file
is opened read/write, should this be desired. Full control over
this shelving and unshelving is provided.
This provides a great deal of flexibility in reclaiming space
when the Safety space monitoring function detects that space is
needed. Not only can previously deleted files be finally moved
to backup destinations and deleted, but the system can migrate
seldom accessed files to nearline storage transparently. The
site policy can drive this, or utilities provided can be used
Where it is chosen to run Safety in a lights-out fashion (with
Safety reacting to low disk situations by emptying older deleted
files from the wastebasket and/or file migration to backing
store), the policy chosen for controlling such setting is
handled by a full-screen, easily used, tool which sets the
policy. Should still greater flexibility be needed, the scripts
used for a number of operations are supplied together with a
full description of the command line interface of the underlying
software. This facilitates linking Safety file management
functions with other packages should such be desired.
Safety can be run in a mode where there is essentially no
overhead at all imposed (just a few instructions added along
some paths and no disk access) for any files except those which
need softlinks or possible unshelving. There is no limit to how
many files may be so marked on a disk. A fullscreen setup script
allows one to select the Safety run modes. Even if Safety is
forced to examine all files for its markings, the overhead
imposes no added disk access and costs only a tiny added time
(typically a percent or two) in open intensive applications. In
addition, Safety can be turned off or back on at any convenient
point should this be desired. (This must be done using special
tools provided for use by those specially authorized to do so.)
Safety runs on VAX VMS 5.5 or greater or AXP VMS 6.1 or greater.
The same facilities exist across all systems. HSM must be
installed on each cluster node of a VMScluster where it is to be
used but imposes no restrictions on types of disk it works for.
Safety will work with any file structure used by VMS, so long as
a disk class device is used to hold it. It is specifically NOT
limited to use with ODS-2 disks.
Safety is brought to you by
General Cybernetic Enterprises
Glenn C. Everhart
156 Clark Farm Road
Smyrna, Delaware 19977
302 659 0460 voice
302 659 5870 fax
Mail for further questions
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