Inspired by the behaviors of sophisticated malware such as Stuxnet, Flame, Duqu and Gauss, Russian billionaire and possible real-life Batman Eugene Kaspersky announced today that his Kaspersky Lab is developing a new operating system.
Mr. Kaspersky’s announcement wasn’t heavy on details about the OS, but security was obviously priority one. Acknowledging that Microsoft, Apple and the open source communities haven’t been able to create truly secure controls, Mr. Kaspersky basically said the problem with the previous systems was their universality:
First: our system is highly tailored, developed for solving a specific narrow task, and not intended for playing Half-Life on, editing your vacation videos, or blathering on social media. Second: we’re working on methods of writing software which by design won’t be able to carry out any behind-the-scenes, undeclared activity. This is the important bit: the impossibility of executing third-party code, or of breaking into the system or running unauthorized applications on our OS; and this is both provable and testable.
Mr. Kaspersky linked to “Securing Critical Information Infrastructure: Trusted Computing Base” to help answer questions regarding the new OS. It’s essentially a paper that dissects the way industrial cyber-attacks work and details why they work.
The study lists the following necessary elements of a “maximally secure” computer network:
- The operating system can’t be based on existing computer code; therefore, it must be written from scratch.
- To achieve a guarantee of security it must contain no mistakes or vulnerabilities whatsoever in the kernel, which controls the rest of the modules of the system. As a result, the core must be 100% verified as not permitting vulnerabilities or dual-purpose code.
- For the same reason, the kernel needs to contain a very bare minimum of code, and that means that the maximum possible quantity of code, including drivers, needs to be controlled by the core and be executed with low-level access rights.
- In such an environment there needs to be a powerful and reliable system of protection that supports different models of security.
With these features in mind, Kaspersky Lab states that its new system’s central feature will be a “categorical impossibility” of running any background programs, giving engineers total control and management of the system.
Cyber-warfare being what it is today, it’s safe to say the malware makers who inspired Mr. Kaspersky’s Lab to develop this new system are likely already working on new exploits with it in mind.
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