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The principle of least privilege has been described as important for meeting integrity objectives. The principle of least privilege requires that a user be given no more privilege than necessary to perform a job.
Ensuring least privilege requires identifying what the user's job is, determining the minimum set of privileges required to perform that job, and restricting the user to a domain with those privileges and nothing more. By denying to subjects transactions that are not necessary for the performance of their duties, those denied privileges cannot be used to circumvent the organizational security policy.
Although the concept of least privilege currently exists within the context of the TCSEC, requirements restrict those privileges of the system administrator. Through the use of RBAC, enforced minimum privileges for general system users can be easily achieved.
A companion principle is Separation of Duties. Separation of duties is considered valuable in deterring fraud since fraud can occur if an opportunity exists for collaboration between various job related capabilities. Separation of duty requires that for particular sets of transactions, no single individual be allowed to execute all transactions within the set. The most commonly used examples are the separate transactions needed to initiate a payment and to authorize a payment. No single individual should be capable of executing both transactions. Separation of duty is an important consideration in real systems. In real situations, only certain transactions need to be restricted under separation of duty requirements. For example, we would expect a transaction for "authorize payment'' to be restricted, but a transaction "submit suggestion to administrator'' would not be.
In IT security, the well-known "least privilege" principle states that: "Every program and every user of the system should operate using the least set of privileges necessary to complete the job." This Sun BluePrints OnLine article describes how to use the Process Rights Management feature of the Solaris 10 Operating System to implement this principle for any given software program.
Process Rights Management allows software developers to write privilege-aware programs that run with only the privileges they need, dropping those that are not needed or are no longer required. Further, using a programming technique called privilege bracketing, a developer can control exactly when a privilege or set of privileges is active or in effect.
Software developers can use the privilege bracketing technique to ensure that a program is running with privilege only when that privilege is required. This is accomplished by placing privileged software operations between code that effectively enables and disables specific privileges. Using the methods described in this article, software developers will be able to develop privileged programs that are more secure and resilient to flaws because the use of privilege within the code can be more tightly controlled.
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