Linux Distributed Security Module

Performance Tests Results

Based on the testing performed, we present the results in Table 1 and Table 2. All numbers are in microseconds.

Performance Results with IP Packet Modification

Performance Results without IP Packet Modification

  1. Process Creation Results: we have a 1.2% increase in overhead, because the system has to perform a permission check on the fork operation and spend extra time labeling the child process.

  2. UDP Local Access Results: the average overhead for the setting with the DSM module against the setting without the DSM module is 20%. This overhead consists of performing a permission check on the socket, sending a message and sk_buff label attachment for each message, plus labeling the IP messages. When the IP packet modification is disabled (Table 2), the overhead drops to 4.2%.

  3. UDP Remote Access Results: the average overhead for the setting with the DSM module against the setting without the DSM module is 30%. The overhead consists of the following: performing a permission check on the send socket side, attaching a label to sk_buff, attaching the security information to the IP message, retrieving the security information on the receive side, attaching the network security ID to sk_buff, performing the permission check on sk_buff, performing the security checking on the socket and repeating all the above operations on the return message. When the IP packet modification is disabled (Table 2), the overhead drops to 5.4%.

In both UDP testing cases, most of the overhead occurred is related to IP packet modification. Only a small fraction of the overhead is caused by the security module.

Ongoing Work

Our ongoing work and future plans for DSM include:

  • Fully implementing the framework of the distributed access control.

  • Optimizing the code for better performance.

  • Providing additional functionality for the server resource to access on behalf of a client.

  • Providing security information protection.

  • Providing security information transfers at lower levels of the protocol stack.

  • Testing cluster security against different types of attacks.


As previously mentioned, DSM is one component of the DSI architecture. So far, we have a basic implementation of DSM. The performance results we presented must be regarded as upper-bound, because no single security operation has been optimized.

We have done some work optimizing the IP packet modification. The primary results have shown significant improvements. The UDP local access with IP packet modification (Table 1) has dropped from 20% overhead to 8%. Similarly, the UDP remote access (Table 1) has dropped from 30% overhead to 14%. These results are promising, and we see many more opportunities to optimize and reach even lower overhead. Nevertheless, the results demonstrate the challenges facing the development of efficient distributed security.

As far as testing in real environments, we tested the framework with buffer-overflow attacks. It proved that our current solution could guard against these types of attacks.

As a final note, we did our best to describe DSM within the limited space we have. However, if you would like more details, please feel free to contact us. We hope you try out the source code for DSM and the supporting test programs and send us your feedback. All source code is available for download at


David Gordon and Philippe Veillette, Computer Science interns from Sherbrooke University, for contributing to the DSI Project in the DSM area.


Miroslaw Zakrzewski ( is a researcher at the Open Systems Lab at Ericsson Research. He is the lead developer of the distributed security module.

Ibrahim Haddad ( is a researcher at the Ericsson Corporate Unit of Research in Montréal, Canada.