By: Nawal Kishor
Computers play major role in almost every field of our life. The software which runs the hardware machine is Operating System and to be secure, one should maintain the security of the operating system. Since 1960, the designers of the operating system have tried to provide us the secure and safe operating systems. The designers have faced many problems and new vulnerabilities which came into play as time proceeded. Recently it has become more important to have good knowledge for a designer as the software and hardware have been developed at vast scale and the chances of being attacked are also increased with time. Operating System is used everywhere from small calculators to big mainframe computers. As the complexity of the system increases, the extent of security challenges also increases. The operating system security mainly emphasizes the fact that who has the right to access the computer system and who are the non-authorized personnel. In fact, OS keeps track of the authorized users and it also cease the access to the system by non-authorized persons. There have been three important protection policies that are considered while making the OS secure 
- No Sharing- In this case, the processes have been isolated from each other. It means that the address space for each process is clearly defined and it will not interfere the other processes and doesn’t try to access the others address space. If two processes want to access the same program or file then the copy of that file is stored by each process in their virtual memory itself.
- Sharing the files- Some files are read only files and creating copy of them in each process’ virtual space will not create any problem. But in case of writable data, we can not create multiple copies simultaneously, we need some locking mechanism in order to maintain the synchronisation otherwise we will have to suffer the problems created due to data inconsistency.
- Memoryless Subsystems- In this method, the processes are combined to form a group and it is called subsystem. If subsystem 1 wants subsystem 2 to perform some task on some data. Then the subsystem 2 will make sure that the subsystem one doesn’t know the procedure it has followed to accomplish the task. And also, the subsystem 2 should not retain any type of data provided by the subsystem 1. It is termed as memoryless subsystem; it means any subsystem doesn’t store or memorise the data provided by the other system.
Prerequisites for Operating System security
Since there is a possibility of different vulnerabilities and threats, we need some security needs which help in making the OS secure from these threats. The CIA triad is followed as it broadly covers the major attacks possible.
- Confidentiality- Confidentiality refers to the fact that the data, file or program is accessed by the user who has the authority to do so. The private and the confidential data files concerned with a particular user should not be exposed to other users or the attacker. Confidentiality is usually achieved by authentication. The person who tries to access a particular file has to follow the authentication method; it can be password, OTP based or biometric based; after successful authentication only, the user is given access to the particular file.
- Integrity – Integrity is mainly related to the modification of the data. It makes sure that the data is not altered by non-authorised personnel. It can only be modified by the persons who are allowed to do otherwise the data should remain intact and consistent. Integrity ensures that the data is correct, authentic and reliable.
- Availability- The availability is concerned with the fact that the operating system is supposed to respond and do the required tasks as and when the authorised user asks to it. It means that the computer operating system is available for use and it can handle the number of users it is supposed to. The availability is usually hampered by the attackers as it is easier for them to do. They can do the denial-of-service attack on the system by giving a lot of commands to the system which the OS can’t handle.
Now, we will have a look at the computer system assets which get affected when the security of the operating system is breached. The main computer system assets are – hardware, software, and data. The OS security is concerned with the software and data of the user. The OS designers use the protection mechanism to make the system secure. We use multiprogramming which shares the multiple resources facilitating good CPU utilization as well as the challenges to keep them secure also. The aspect which plays the important role in the OS security is logging .
Logging- Logging is the important aspect which modern day computers have adopted keeping an eye on the advantages and facilities provided by logging. Logging helps in auditing, system tuning, and intrusion detection in the operating systems. UNIX uses the Syslog Daemon for logging implementation and Microsoft Windows implements logging by Windows Event Viewer.
The log file helps the user when an unexpected event occurs or the desired event abruptly stops working.
Applications of Logging-
- Debugging- When any bug comes into play and our process doesn’t behave as it is expected then debugging is done with the help of the data provided by the log file.
- Security- This is the major application of logging. For security, authorization, authentication and access control events are recorded. It records whether the authentication was successful or not. Kernel level threads are logged and the resources which are exhausted and network related data I logged in order to keep track which resource might create problem.
- System Tuning is also a application of logging.
- Forensics- The logging details can provide a lot of information about the user; the program he executed with date and time and other useful details which may help in forensics also.
The report brings out the basic idea of how Operating System Security and protection policies are carried out and the pillars of protection mechanisms, it relies on. The fact of the matter is Operating System security is based on confidentiality, integrity, and availability triad. Logging also plays important role in OS Security and helps the OS designer and the technical user understand the sequence of action that took place in the past. OS security has become very crucial as the complexity of the application, as well as operating systems, have has increased and so the security challenges which might need attention so that the computer system remains safe and secure.
- Radu, C. O. N. S. T. A. N. T. I. N. E. S. C. U., & Daniel, Z. R. Issues of Operating Systems Security.
- Zeng, L., Xiao, Y., Chen, H., Sun, B., & Han, W. (2016). Computer operating system logging and security issues: a survey. Security and communication networks, 9(17), 4804-4821.
Cite this article:
Nawal Kishor (2021) Operating System Security and Significance of Logging, Insights2Techinfo, pp.1
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