This section describes additional ways to restrict
the data and resources available to users.
Precautions to Take When Installing New Software
When you install new software, you must address
several security concerns. You want to ensure that you are not admitting
software that will in any way corrupt or undermine your usual security
precautions. You must also consider whether to install the software
with any privileges. This section discusses the security aspects of
installing new software.
Potentially Harmful Programs
New software can contain programs that are potentially
harmful to your system. These programs, called Trojan horse programs,
are designed to do damage and frequently include features that do
Pass privileges of the
person running the program back to the author of the program
Allow unauthorized access
to the system
Change protection of system
Patch the system (add
special software to the operating system)
Create jobs that scan
for easily guessed passwords
To protect your system from this type of intrusion,
always buy software from reputable sources. When training new users,
stress the importance of avoiding use of software from an unknown
Another risk to programs and directories is known
as the virus. While Trojan horse software must
rely on the innocent user to unwittingly accept the damaging software
by using it, the virus requires no user cooperation. It is a program
that takes advantage of faulty file protection, working its way through
your system and modifying command procedures and executable programs.
By modifying command procedures, it can propagate by making use of
user access rights and privileges.
Viruses are less of a problem in the OpenVMS environment
than in an environment of personal computers. The OpenVMS protection
features and the environment's larger scale and diversity make
virus attacks more difficult. However, no environment that permits
the sharing of software and data is immune from virus attacks.
The user's login command procedure is a prime
target for this type of security breach. Login command procedures
generally contain easily modified DCL commands and are executed regularly.
ACLs are also targets. File protection designed
with users sharing access privileges allows this type of program to
run through many users' programs, acquiring new privileges along
Well-designed file protection is critical for
protection from this type of security breach. Make sure that likely
targets cannot be modified by users. For example, set up file protection
so that your login command procedure permits at most read access to
all other users. Also make sure the directory containing the login
command procedure permits write access only to users in the system
and owner categories.
Because most damage occurs when programs like
these reach a target account with privileges, users with privileges
should be especially cautious with the protection of their root directory,
executable files, and command procedures. To deter Trojan horse attacks,
users should never execute a command procedure or run an image in
a privileged account without inspecting the command procedure or the
image's sources. Application images should be rebuilt from source
to ensure that the binary image reflects the accompanying source.
Installing Programs with Privilege
Some software requires privilege to run. You can
extend the privilege to all users you expect will need to run the
software, or you can install the program with the required privileges.
When you install privileged software, you allow users to execute it
whether or not they personally possess the required privilege. In
effect, you extend the privilege to the process while it runs the
software. While this offers some advantages, it also introduces several
security-related dangers. “Giving Users Privileges” describes these options in greater
Protecting System Files
Even on the most open system, you will want protection
for the system software. Normally, HP delivers system programs and
databases with adequate UIC protection. However, if for any reason
you are dissatisfied with the default protection, you can change it
with the techniques outlined in “Protecting Data”Chapter 4, provided you have
the necessary SYSPRV privilege. You might also add an ACL to any file
that you decide needs additional protection.
You can obtain a full listing of system files
from the system manager's account during an OpenVMS installation
with the following DCL command:
HP recommends you generate such a listing and
store it for reference. Regularly compare these values with current
system file protection to ensure that no tampering has occurred. (The
DCL commands DIRECTORY/SECURITY/OUTPUT and DIFFERENCES facilitate
On Alpha systems, you can obtain a listing of
system files and their protections from the read-only compact disc
distribution media. Your OpenVMS software should have this set of
protection codes following a correct installation.
On VAX systems, see the “Protection for OpenVMS System Files” for a listing of system files and
their protections. Your OpenVMS software should have this set of protection
codes following a correct installation.
“DCL Commands Used to Protect Files” provides a summary of DCL commands
you use to set up and display file protection; these commands are
described in the HP OpenVMS DCL Dictionary.
Table 8-4 DCL Commands Used to Protect Files
Displays the ACL for
Displays the file owner's
Displays the file's
Combines and displays
file information produced by DIRECTORY/ACL, DIRECTORY/OWNER, and DIRECTORY/PROTECTION
Invokes the access control
list editor (ACL editor)
Establishes the default protection to be applied to all files subsequently
the security profile of any object: the owner, protection code, and
Displays the ownership, UIC protection
code, and ACL of a protected object
The OpenVMS installation procedure does not initially
install MAIL.EXE with any privileges (because MAIL.EXE does not require
privileges to perform its functions). Prior versions of the OpenVMS
operating system did include mechanisms that allowed MAIL.EXE to check,
ignore, grant, or override certain privileges that a system manager
might assign when reinstalling MAIL.EXE. Because these regulatory
mechanisms sometimes created unexpected or undesirable conditions,
they have been removed.
CAUTION: If you reinstall MAIL.EXE with certain privileges,
you must carefully consider possible ramifications, including the
potential for security breaches. For example, because MAIL.EXE confers
its privileges on any user who invokes the Mail utility, that user
will inherit those privileges if the user creates a subprocess from
within Mail by specifying the SPAWN command.
As indicated, HP provides default protection for
its system programs. However, if you have a special requirement, you
might examine the potential of ACLs for your needs. For example, you
might use ACLs to restrict the use of system programs such as compilers.
(Any number of considerations might prompt this action, ranging from
performance to licensing issues.)
You might also ask if there are cases where you
do not want some or all of your users to be able to initialize media.
If there are, you can put an ACL to good use on the system program
SYS$SYSTEM:INIT.EXE. Ensure that you grant no access to the world
category in the UIC-based protection code. Then create an ACL for
the file that grants access to specific users.
Similarly, if a department in your company has
paid for a license to a software product, you may want to make that
software available to them but not to others. Ensure that the world
category receives no access through the standard UIC-based protection
code, and create an entry in the ACL for that file that allows access
through the department's identifier.
You may also find that ACL protection is relevant
to protect your applications databases, limiting the access to certain
users or to protected subsystems.
Restricting DCL Command Usage
There are several ways that you can affect the
use of DCL commands by your users. Among them are the following:
Impose ACLs on the system
program files in the directories SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSEXE] and SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSLIB].
Set the AUTHORIZE flag
DISIMAGE to prevent use of the MCR or the RUN command. This prevents
users from executing system or user-written images or from executing
images defined as foreign commands.
the DISIMAGE flag is enforced by the DCL command language interpreter
(CLI), you must ensure that the account for which the DISIMAGE flag
is set has access to the DCL CLI only. Use the DISIMAGE flag in conjunction
with the AUTHORIZE flag DEFCLI or within a restricted account. (Setting
the RESTRICTED flag for an account implicitly sets the DEFCLI flag.)
Remove or modify DCL command
definitions, and rebuild the DCL tables. (The HP OpenVMS
System Management Utilities Reference Manual describes
how to create command definitions.) Use the /CLITABLES qualifier in
the user's UAF record to specify the modified tables. Also specify
/FLAGS=DEFCLI to ensure that the user can log in only with the specified
command language interpreter (CLI) and tables. Protect the original
DCL tables from unauthorized access by imposing ACLs on the system
program files in the directories SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSEXE] and SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSLIB].
In particular, protect SYS$LIBRARY:DCLTABLES.EXE and SYS$SYSTEM:CDU.EXE.
Disk scavenging is the process of reading magnetic
imprints of data after deletion of the file header following a purge
or delete operation. (When users delete files from the system, only
the file header is deleted.) Until the data is overwritten, it is
a potential target for disk scavenging. Sites with medium or high
security needs should be concerned about this procedure.
After establishing overall security features,
restrict access to disks containing valuable information by using
UIC-based volume protection. Because disk scavenging is frequently
performed by authorized users, consider implementing erasure patterns
and high-water marking, as described in the following sections.
There are several ways to implement erasing of
The inclusion of the /ERASE
qualifier with the DELETE or the PURGE command causes the system to
write an erasure pattern of zeros over the entire file location when
you delete or purge that file. You can encourage users to use this
qualifier voluntarily or make inclusion automatic by including the
following command definitions in the system login command procedure
However, any user can bypass these definitions
by adding the /NOERASE qualifier to the DELETE or the PURGE command.
To guarantee erase-on-delete, turn on the feature for the entire volume
by using the DCL command SET VOLUME/ERASE_ON_DELETE. When files are
deleted, this command overwrites all files on the volume with the
erasure pattern of zeros.
To completely erase the
volume and enable erase-on-delete for the volume at volume initialization,
use the DCL command INITIALIZE/ERASE.
By default, when erase-on-delete is enabled, the operating
system writes a default data security erase (DSE) pattern of zeros, applied during a single write operation over the
area. If you feel that the default pattern of zeros or the single
rather than multiple number of erasures does not suit your requirements,
you can use the $ERAPAT (Get Security Erase Pattern) system service
to write a customized erasure pattern. See the description of $ERAPAT
in the HP OpenVMS System Services Reference Manual for more information.
For sites with high-level security requirements,
a random pattern is preferable to a fixed pattern. The technology
is already available that can detect and use faint residual magnetic
impressions. Thus, if you conclude there is sufficient danger that
a disk might be removed and read using some of this specialized analysis
equipment, you may need to rewrite the erasure pattern several times.
You can learn how to customize the data security erase pattern to
fit your needs by studying the information provided in the file SYS$EXAMPLES:DOD_ERAPAT.MAR.
Employ erasing patterns only on disks where the
security needs are the greatest. Erasures are time-consuming and affect
Prevention Through High-Water Marking
refers to a technique that tracks the furthest extent to which each
file has been written and prohibits user attempts at reading data
beyond that point.
The operating system implements true high-water
marking for all sequential, exclusively accessed files, such as the
set of files output from various text editors, compilers, and linkers,
that is, most files a process writes. The high-water mark is updated
in the file header whenever the logical end-of-file mark is updated
(usually when the file is closed).
For shared files (both indexed and sequential),
the operating system uses the principle of erase-on-allocate to achieve a result similar to true high-water marking. When a file
is about to be created or extended, the system determines how much
disk space (the extent of the file) is required and applies the security
erasure pattern of zeros to the areas (extents) it allocates for writing.
The file is then written into the area just erased for it. Thus, if
any user gains access to the file (including its full extent) and
attempts to read the area beyond where the file has been written,
only the data security erase pattern is readable.
By default, the operating system turns on high-water
marking for all volumes. High-water marking is a deterrent to disk scavenging attempts. However,
it does require additional I/O, which affects system performance.
You can turn off high-water marking and erase-on-allocate
on a volume-by-volume basis by specifying the DCL command SET VOLUME/NOHIGHWATER_MARKING.
Summary of Prevention Techniques
As security administrator, you can apply the following
controls to discourage disk scavengers:
Provide tight physical
security, particularly on those disks with the most valuable information.
Provide tight volume protection
through UIC-based protection.
Encourage the use of the
/ERASE qualifier when key files are purged or deleted through user
participation or volume enforcement.
Permit default high-water
marking on your most valuable disks.
Protecting Backup Media
You can guard against data loss or corruption
by creating copies of your files, directories, and disks. In case
of a problem, you can restore the backup copy and continue your work.
Secure media storage and controlled access to media are essential
parts of the process. It is best to store backup media off site.
Backing Up Disks
Having an effective backup schedule is critical
to protect your data. By performing regularly scheduled backup operations,
you prevent the loss of accidentally deleted or damaged files.
See the HP OpenVMS System Management
Utilities Reference Manual for information about performing
backups and setting up backup schedules. Be aware that the Backup
utility (BACKUP) does not implement security policy; you must direct
it explicitly. It runs with the security profile of the operator,
which can often be privileged.
Protecting a Backup Save Set
Limiting access to backup save sets is an important
part of system security. The file system treats a backup save set
as a single file, whether it is stored on disk or on magnetic tape.
Therefore, anyone with access to a save set can read any file in the
save set. BACKUP does not check protection on individual files.
To maintain system security, it is crucial that
you protect save sets adequately. Assign restrictive protection to
save sets on disk and to magnetic tape volumes by using the output
save-set qualifiers /BY_OWNER and /PROTECTION. Sufficient protection
can prevent nonprivileged users from mounting a save-set volume or
from reading files from a save set. You should also take physical
security precautions with save sets stored off line by keeping backup
media in locked cabinets.
When you write a save set to a Files--11 disk
or a sequential disk and do not specify the /PROTECTION qualifier,
BACKUP applies the process default protection to the save set. If
you specify /PROTECTION, any protection categories that you do not
specify default to your default process protection.
Protection information is written to the volume
header record of a magnetic tape and applies to all save sets stored
on the tape. Therefore, the output save-set qualifiers /BY_OWNER and
/PROTECTION are effective on magnetic tape save sets only if you specify
the output save-set qualifier /REWIND. This qualifier allows the tape
to rewind to its beginning, to write the protection data to the volume
header record, and to initialize the tape. If you specify /PROTECTION,
any protection categories that you do not specify default to your
default process protection. If you do not specify /REWIND with the
/PROTECTION and /BY_OWNER qualifiers, the magnetic tape retains its
existing protection. However, specifying /REWIND alone results in
a magnetic tape without any protection.
The following example illustrates how a directory
is backed up to tape:
The contents of the directory
[PAYROLL] is copied to file KNOX.BCK on the magnetic tape drive MFA2.
The output save-set qualifier /LABEL provides the label BANK01 for
The output save-set qualifier
/BY_OWNER assigns an owner UIC of [030,003] to the save set.
The output save-set qualifier
/TAPE_EXPIRATION assigns an expiration date of January 15, 2009 to
The output save-set qualifier
/PROTECTION assigns the owner of the volume read, write, execute,
and delete access. System users are assigned read, write, and execute
access; group users are assigned read and execute access; world users
are assigned no access.
Retrieving Files from Backup Save Sets
Anyone who has access to a save set can read any
file in the save set. Never give a copy of your backup media to a
user; a malicious user could restore the files from the tape or disk
and compromise the security of the system.
When a nonprivileged user wants to restore a particular
file, do not lend the volume containing the save set. You could give
away access to all the files on the volume. The safest way to restore
a particular file is to restore the file selectively, as shown in
the following example:
The selected file is restored with its original
directory, ownership, and protection. In this way, the file system
determines if the user is permitted access to the file.
The next sections describe the controls available
for restricting the use of terminals.
Restricting Terminal Use
Through the device object class template TERMINAL,
the operating system sets up terminals to be accessible to the SYSTEM
account only. When a user logs in, the operating system transfers
ownership from a system UIC to the UIC of the current process.
You can limit logins on specific
terminals in the following ways:
Assign a system password.
Set the terminal to /NOTYPE_AHEAD,
making it impossible to log in.
The application of system passwords limits the
use of those terminals to users who know the system password.
Restricting Application Terminals and Miscellaneous Devices
To make terminals accessible to certain users
as application terminals, you may want to change any or all of the
device's security characteristics. You can include the DCL command
SET SECURITY/CLASS=DEVICE for specific terminals (with appropriate
protection codes) in the command procedure SYS$MANAGER:SYSTARTUP_VMS.COM.
This DCL command can limit access to any device that is not file structured.
You might also place an ACL on the device to limit user access.
Configuring Terminal Lines for Modems
When configuring terminal lines for modems, never
set the /COMMSYNC qualifier to the DCL command SET TERMINAL (or the
TT$M_COMMSYNC characteristic for the TTDRIVER interface) on a line
with a modem hookup that is intended for interactive use.
The qualifier disables the modem terminal characteristic
that disconnects a user process from the terminal line in case of
a modem phone line failure. With the /COMMSYNCH qualifier enabled,
the next call on the terminal line could be attached to the previous
user's process. The /COMMSYNC qualifier is intended to allow
connection of asynchronous printers and other devices to terminal
ports by using modem signals as flow control.