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Design Principles of Security in Distributed System

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  • Last Updated : 12 Aug, 2022
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Distributed System is a collection of autonomous computer systems that are physically separated but are connected by a centralized computer network that is equipped with distributed system software. The autonomous computers will communicate among each system by sharing resources and files and performing the tasks assigned to them.

Overview of various design principles of security in a distributed system are as follows:

  • Security should be built into the system from the very beginning and not be an afterthought.
  • Security should be transparent to the users and should not impact the usability of the system.
  • The system should be designed in such a way that it can detect and recover from security breaches.
  • The system should be designed to resist attacks from both inside and outside the system.
  • The system should be designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

Principles:

There are 8 design principles of security in a distributed system, they are:

1. Principle of Least Privilege: The principle of least privilege is a security design principle that requires that users be given the bare minimum permissions necessary to perform their tasks. So, this principle is also sometimes referred to as the principle of least authority. It is often cited as one of the most important security design principles. It helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems. By only giving users the permissions they need to perform their tasks, there is less chance that they will be able to access data or systems that they should not have access to. It is not always easy to implement, especially in large organizations with many different types of users. It has been formalized in the Trusted Computing Base (TCB) model and in the Security Kernel model.

2. Principle of Economy of Mechanism: The principle of economy of mechanism states that a system should be designed to minimize the number of distinct components (Eg. processes, machines, nodes, etc.) that must interact to perform a given task. This principle is also known as the principle of least action. The design of a security system should be as simple and efficient as possible.  This principle is based on the idea that the more complex a security system is, the more opportunities there are for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is important to keep security systems as simple as possible in order to reduce the attack surface and make it more difficult for attackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities. The principle of economy of mechanism is also known as the principle of parsimony or the principle of least privilege.

3. Principle of Fail-Safe Defaults: Fail-safe defaults are security settings that are configured to prevent unauthorized access or use of resources. By default, all users should have the least amount of privileges necessary to perform their job function. Access to sensitive data should be restricted to only those who need it. To protect data from unauthorized access, it must be encrypted. Systems must be designed to be resilient to attacks.  Security controls should be tested regularly to ensure they are effective.

4. Principle of Complete Mediation: Security design principles should be comprehensive and address all potential security risks. It should be integrated into the overall design of the system and implemented in a way that minimizes the impact on performance and usability. It should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

5. Principle of Open Design:

Open design is a security design principle that advocates for the openness of security systems. The principle of open design states that security systems should be designed in such a way that they can be easily inspected, analyzed, and modified by anyone with the necessary skills and knowledge. The goal of open design is to improve the security of systems by making it easier for security experts to find and fix security vulnerabilities. The open design also makes it possible for security researchers to audit systems and assess their security. Many open source security tools and technologies are available that implement the principle of open design. 

6. Principle of Separation of Privilege: The principle of separation of privilege states that a user should not be able to access all areas of a system. This principle is designed to protect systems from unauthorized access and to prevent users from accidentally or deliberately damaging system resources. By separating privileges, a system can more easily control access to its resources and prevent unauthorized or accidental damage. The principle of separation of privilege is often implemented by dividing a system into different levels, with each level having its own set of privileges. This principle is an important part of security design and should be considered when designing any system.

7. Principle of Least Common Mechanism: The principle of least common mechanism states that security should be designed so that there is a minimum number of mechanisms that are shared by all users. This principle is important because it reduces the chances that a security flaw will be exploited by more than one user. By reducing the number of mechanisms that are shared by all users, the principle of the least common mechanism also reduces the chances that a security flaw will be exploited by an attacker who has access to more than one user’s account. The principle of least common mechanism is also known as the principle of least privilege.

8. Principle of Psychological Acceptability: The psychological acceptability of security design principles refers to the extent to which users are willing to accept and comply with the security measures implemented in a system. The principle is based on the idea that security measures must be designed in a way that takes into account the psychological factors that influence users’ decisions to accept and comply with them. The principle is important because it helps to ensure that security measures are effective in protecting users’ data and privacy. The psychological acceptability of security design principles has been found to be influenced by factors such as the perceived usefulness of the security measures, the perceived ease of use, and the perceived risks of not using the security measures. The principle of psychological acceptability of security design principles is relevant to the design of both physical and digital security measures.

Parameters:

These parameters must be followed in building the design of security.

1. Built into the System: A system is built into the security principles of design to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. The system works by creating a layered approach to security, with each layer providing a different level of protection. The outermost layer is the perimeter security, which is designed to keep unauthorized users from accessing the system. The next layer is application security, designed to protect the system from attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in the application. The innermost layer is data security, designed to protect the system from attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in the data.
 

2. Check for Current Authority: There are a few different ways to check for current authority like checking the security settings on the file or object, and permissions on the file or object. Check the access control list (ACL) on the file or object and Check the security policy of the system.

3. Easy Granting and Revocation of Access Rights: The principle of least privilege states that users should only have the minimum level of access rights that they need to perform their job. This principle helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and damage to data. Easy granting and revocation of access rights help to ensure that users only have the level of access that they need and that they do not have access to more data than they should.

4. Never Trust other Parties: The reason to never trust other parties is that they may not have the same level of security as you do. They may also be trying to access the data for their own gain. 

5. Build Firewalls: A firewall is a network security system that controls traffic between networks or between a network and the internet. Firewalls can be hardware devices, software programs, or a combination of both.

6. Efficient: There are many design principles of security, but one of the most important is the principle of efficiency. This principle states that security measures should be designed to be as effective as possible while still being affordable and practical. This means that security measures should be able to achieve their goals with the least possible amount of resources. This is important because it ensures that security measures are not too costly or difficult to implement.

7. Convenient to use: It is convenient to use security principles when designing security for a system. The principles provide a structure for thinking about security and help to ensure that all aspects of security are considered. They also provide a common language for discussing security, which can be useful when communicating with others about security issues.


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