Security Research Laboratory and Education Center
During the past several years, students at Purdue have been maintaining the Internet's largest on-line archive of security-related tools, papers, standards, advisories and other materials. The main problem they face is the efficient management of such highly dynamic information. The group will mirror constantly changing sites and will maintain the most recent copies of those sites. Additionally, new sites are continually starting up—new papers, new tools and more information that must be added to the archive.
The other major concern is being able to find what they are looking for in the archive. With so much information, it is difficult to navigate through all the data. The Archive group has used a combination of Red Hat Linux 5.2 and the open source ROADS (see Resources) document ordering system to build the prototype. This will transform the FTP-based archive to an HTTP-based information system, allowing users to search based on different criteria or enter a Yahoo-like browsing mode. The group always welcomes contributions and suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of COAST's better-known projects is Tripwire. It was primarily a project of Gene Kim and Professor Gene Spafford. The product is now used worldwide and is the most widely deployed intrusion detection security tool. Tripwire is an integrity monitoring tool for Linux and other UNIX systems. It uses message digest algorithms to detect tampering with file contents that might have been caused by an intruder or virus. In December 1997, Visual Computing Corporation obtained an exclusive license from Purdue University to develop and market new versions of the product. Tripwire IDS 1.3 has been released for Linux. For more information, see the web site http://www.tripwiresecurity.com/.
The Underfire team consists of seven graduate and undergraduate students. Their goals are to gain direct experience in the installation, evaluation, configuration and usage of different firewall systems; to investigate new technologies for network perimeter defenses, including next-generation networks such as ATM; and to investigate the integration of host- and network-based security mechanisms with network perimeter defenses. Underfire is an ongoing project which began in 1997.
The Underfire team's main goal is to create an architecture for automated firewall testing. The final product will be an engine that will test a firewall without human interaction. This will be achieved with a modular system: the engine, a packet sniffer and scripted attacks. The engine executes the attacks and uses the packet sniffer, or other networking protocols, to test the success or failure of the attack. Finally, a report can be automatically generated that explains the weak points of the firewall based on the attack data.
Having finished the design and initial implementation of the engine, the Underfire team is currently scripting known attacks. The automatic report generator is something that will also need to be completed in the future. Until now, Underfire has taken only protocol level attacks into account; a future step will be to extend the tests to the application level such as RPC and X11.
The need to change the old-fashioned login name and password procedure of authentication is an obvious place to base research for the laboratory. By using biometrics devices and tokens such as smart cards and iButtons, several research and application development projects can be conducted in this area. Security tokens under Linux will provide a wide array of security features for the multiuser operating system.
One of the COAST students heads the MUSCLE project (Movement for the Use of Smart Cards in a Linux Environment), one way to integrate security tokens into the Linux environment. MUSCLE focuses on smart card and biometrics security under Linux and consists of several projects. The first is standardizing on a PC/SC-compliant smart card resource manager written in C++, along with cryptographic libraries based on the Public-Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS-11 and PKCS-15). The resource manager also allows secure remote authentication by using secure channels to communicate between multiple resource managers. The resource manager will be used to develop many applications, including secure login, ssh, xlock, FTP, TELNET, et al., via pluggable authentication modules (PAM) along with smart card security.
MUSCLE supports a wide array of smart card readers along with ISO-7816-4-compliant smart cards. On the web site, you can find many different smart card specifications, source code for different projects, on-line tutorials and a mailing list. MUSCLE can be found at http://www.linuxnet.com/.
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