Conference paper Open Access

Security by Design: Introduction to MILS

Tverdyshev, Sergey

A "security by design" method achieves robustness against programming errors and malicious attacks. A security by design method must be simple to understand. It must be simple to implement, and also to simple to verify. It must enable the developer to create assurance evidence coherent with the design decisions. MILS is a security by design method. In short, application of the MILS approach starts with partitioning the system under design into isolated compartments. System resources, e.g. CPUs, CPU time, memory, IO devices, files, are assigned to compartments. After that the communication channels between compartments are defined with respect to the required API (e.g. POSIX, ARINC, AUTOSAR). Communication and resource sharing between security domains have to be explicit, i.e. everything is forbidden what is not explicitly allowed. In parallel threat modeling is executed, i.e. define system assets to be protected, threat agents and possible malicious actions, system objectives to fight the threats. MILS provides a way to execute mixed-critical applications of different pedigrees on one system. The system as a whole still can be certified to the highest security and safety assurance levels. This makes the approach extremely interesting for modern complex systems, e.g. in a car infotainment system: Android applications can run on the same platform as AUTOSAR applications that communicate with the engine. Until ca. 2000 the MILS concept was mainly used in the US military. Now the commercial interest has picked up. We explain a MILS Architectural Template that simplifies to set up MILS systems. We finish with applications of the MILS concepts across automotive and avionics.

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