|Computerization and networking have brought great benefits of efficiency and new capabilities to national infrastructure functions, such as the financial system, healthcare, telecommunications, power generation and distribution, air traffic control, and defense. All now rely critically on the ad hoc assemblage of computer systems and internetworking technologies that serves as the nation's computing infrastructure. With these benefits, however, comes the prospect that failures in the computing infrastructure, whether due to physical damage, errors, or intentional attacks, could disrupt these vital activities. They are dangerously vulnerable. As a whole, the computing infrastructure, developed in a partially spontaneous fashion and managed under decentralized control, is fragile and has many poorly understood interactions. Making it resilient enough to support critical services safely requires security mechanisms to prevent break-ins or malicious misuse of systems and survivability technologies to ensure that critical capabilities are preserved when problems occur.|
A number of improvements have been made in network protection technology. Firewalls, one of the primary mechanisms for protecting an organization's internal networks and computers from outsiders, have been combined with a strong Domain and Type Enforcement (DTE) security mechanism that can flexibly restrict what clients can use what applications and services over the network. Researchers have experimentally enhanced an industry standard firewall with the DTE mechanism and shown the ability to guard against theft of sensitive data over the network.
To enable widespread use of cryptography for authentication and authorization of access to network-based services, the concept of a generalized public key certificate infrastructure is being addressed by a National Laboratory effort. The Synergy research program is developing an open architecture based on security policy flexible operating system microkernels. The Secure Heterogeneous Application Runtime Environment (SHARE) is developing a high-bandwidth secure System Area Network for the embedded HPC market. SHARE will have dedicated cryptographic hardware supporting packet-switched internode communication.
Mechanisms for secure transactions are needed to enable electronic commerce. Researchers have extended the Kerberos authentication system to allow use of public-key cryptography and digital signatures. In collaboration with leading industry consortia (CommerceNet, World Wide Web Consortium, Open Software Foundation, and Financial Services Technology Consortium), a U.S. company has initiated a cross-industry pilot to develop and demonstrate an electronic payment negotiation framework which has attracted interest from Netscape, MasterCard, Visa, Microsoft, and VeriFone. NetBill was developed as an electronic commerce system supporting economical, secure sales of goods costing as little as ten cents. (The expense of conventional credit card processing makes such small transactions impractical.)
Survivable systems must be able to find and react to attempted attacks. Researchers have developed a new specification-based intrusion detection technique able to detect even types of attacks that have never been seen before, since hackers constantly discover new ways to enter and interfere with a system, and a communications thumbprinting scheme to trace the activities of attackers who range widely over the network in the course of a break-in. Progress has also been made in another aspect of survivability. Multicast communications protocols have been developed for distributed systems that continue to provide reliable service even when a compromised processor behaves maliciously. These protocols take advantage of Fortezza's hardware-based encryption and authentication.