US 20050251808 A1
In a method and system for managing concurrent access to multiple resources, resources are assigned to sets in such a way that it is safe to concurrently access any combination of resources in a resource set. For each resource set, a virtual machine is defined and associated with the resource set. An application is assigned to a virtual machine. When an application requests access to a resource not in the application's virtual machine, access control lists are consulted to determine whether the access should be allowed, given the other resources already accessed by the application.
1. A system for creating a security environment usable by an application instance owned by a principal and operating in a computing device having multiple resources, the system comprising:
a plurality of resource sets each of which comprises one or more resources grouped according to the safety of concurrent access to the resources;
a plurality of virtual machines, each virtual machine being associated with a resource set and being adapted to allow the application instance to access the resource set associated with a virtual machine; and
a set of rules associated with each resource set, the rules determining whether the principal has permission to access a target resource in the resource set.
2. The system of
whether the principal may operate on each of the resources in the resource set; and
whether the principal may operate on the resource set.
3. The system of
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10. A method for a process to communicate with a management facility in order to request that action be taken with respect to a virtual machine, the method comprising:
issuing, by the process, a call having at least one call parameter;
receiving, by the management facility, the call and parsing the call to retrieve the at least one call parameter; and
issuing, by the management facility, an acknowledgement having at least one acknowledgement parameter.
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18. A method for a process to communicate with a management facility in order to request that the process be registered to receive change notifications, the method comprising:
issuing, by the process, a call having a plurality of call parameters comprising a module identification, a principal, a function to be called when a virtual machine is created, a function to be called when information about a virtual machine is updated, and a function to be called when a virtual machine is destroyed;
receiving, by the management facility, the call and parsing the call to retrieve the call parameters; and
issuing, by the management facility, an acknowledgement having an acknowledgement parameter comprising a status of the request.
19. A method for a management facility to notify a process of an action taken with respect to a virtual machine, the method comprising:
issuing, by the management facility, a call having at least one call parameter; and
receiving, by the process, the call and parsing the call to retrieve the at least one call parameter.
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This application is a divisional of a co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/946,659, filed Sep. 5, 2001, and entitled “METHODS AND SYSTEMS OF MANAGING CONCURRENT ACCESS TO MULTIPLE RESOURCES”.
This invention is related in general to the art of managing access to multiple resources, and, more particularly, to a method of managing concurrent access to multiple resources.
Restricting network access to only authenticated users protects confidential information on the network from being compromised. Restricting access using common user authentication techniques, however, does not address network integrity issues in situations when a computer connects to more than one network.
Current operating systems do not guard against security risks such as those mentioned above. A typical operating system allows for the establishment of an insecure channel linking private and public network connections that may result in an unprivileged application accessing confidential information maintained in the private network. In conventional operating systems, it is difficult to enforce a policy forbidding an application from accessing public networks like the Internet while the application is connected to a private network. Such a policy can be defeated by a user using a phone line to connect to the Internet, which circumvents a firewall regulating access to the private network. Moreover, remote users of a private network may have no practical recourse but to use a public network like the Internet to create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to the private network. But the VPN connection to the private network simultaneously connects the computer to both the secured private network and the unsecured public Internet. In a manner similar to the example given above, a remote computer also connected to the Internet can access the computer via the Internet and then access the private network via the VPN connection.
In general, an application concurrently accessing two networks creates a security breach point. Further, the computer may have access to resources other than the networks, for example, a local file system or a network printer. In these instances, similar security problems may be caused by concurrent access. For example, a user's local files may be compromised by the user mistakenly printing the files on the network printer. These examples can be generalized into a multiple, concurrent resource access problem by regarding the connection to the private network, the connection to the Internet, and the connection to the network printer as resources in a multiple-resource environment.
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Thus it is desirable to have a method for managing access to multiple resources that enforces security considerations such as those in Table 1. Currently, many operating systems, applications, and hardware devices provide methods of either setting up security access to a resource or enhancing the security connection to a resource. But none of them provides a method of managing concurrent access to multiple resources.
The present invention is directed to a method and system for managing concurrent access to multiple resources. Resources are assigned to sets in such a way that it is safe to concurrently access any combination of resources in a resource set, and two resource sets are disjoint. For each resource set, a virtual machine is defined and associated with the resource set. Each running application instance is assigned to a virtual machine. When an application instance attempts a resource-access operation, the permissions of the principal that is running (or “owns”) the application instance (hereafter, a “principal” refers to an entity, for example, a user or a system process, that may be given permission to perform certain operations) are compared against access control lists (ACLs). These lists specify, for each principal, whether application instances owned by the principal may perform various resource-access operations including, but not limited to: accessing a resource in the virtual machine assigned to the application instance or in another virtual machine, creating a new resource, creating a new virtual machine, and concurrently accessing a resource in another virtual machine while maintaining access to resources in the virtual machine to which the application instance is currently assigned.
In one embodiment of the invention, in response to a request from an application instance to either access or generate a resource in a resource set other than the resource set associated with the virtual machine to which the application instance is assigned, a management facility consults the access control lists to determine whether the application instance's principal has permission to perform the requested operation. If the principal has permission, the management facility enables the access. Else, the management facility rejects the request.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention, if the management facility finds that the principal has the requisite permission, the request is fulfilled by generating a new instance of the application in association with the virtual machine of the requested resource, creating that virtual machine or the new resource if appropriate.
In another alternative embodiment of the invention, when the management facility grants the request, the request is fulfilled by moving the instance of the application from the virtual machine to which it was originally assigned to a destination virtual machine associated with the requested resource. The moving of the instance of the application may involve creating a new instance of the application in the destination virtual machine, removing the instance of the application from its original virtual machine, and dropping the connection of the instance of the application on the original virtual machine to the resource set associated with the original virtual machine.
In an exemplary multiple-network environment employing the present invention, a computer connects to a private network and to the Internet. Two virtual machines are launched, each of which is associated with one network connection. Application instances are assigned to the virtual machines. Depending upon the permissions associated with their principals, some application instances may concurrently access the Internet and the private network, whereas other application instances may not concurrently access both networks.
While the appended claims set forth the features of the present invention with particularity, the invention, together with its objects and advantages, may be best understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:
The present invention is directed to a method and system for managing concurrent access to multiple resources. The term “resource” used in this invention can mean, for example, but is not limited to, a connection to a network, a connection to a printer, a local file system, a section of shared memory, or a software object.
Application instances are assigned to virtual machines, each of which is associated with a set of resources. Access control lists specify, for each principal, whether application instances owned by the principal can perform various resource-access operations. Specifically, an application instance is termed “unprivileged” if, by reason of its principal's permissions, it may never concurrently access resources in more than one virtual machine. A “privileged” application instance, on the other hand, may or may not be allowed such concurrent access, depending on circumstances such as the nature of the requested resources.
Although it is not required, the present invention may be implemented using instructions, such as program modules, that are executed by a computer. Generally, program modules include routines, objects, components, data structures, and the like that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. The term “program” includes one or more program modules.
The invention may be implemented on a variety of machines, including personal computers, cell phones, hand-held devices, multi-processor systems, microprocessor-based programmable consumer electronics, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. The invention may also be implemented in a distributed system, where tasks are performed by components that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed system, cooperating modules may be sited in both local and remote locations.
Starting from the multiple-resource access problem illustrated in
Although the resource sets A and B in Table 2 are defined according to pair-wise combinations of resources, this is not an absolute requirement. Rather, a resource set is defined, particularly in a complex situation, to avoid dangerous combinations of any number of resources, as appropriate to the situation.
For example, assume that privileged application B has access to resource R2 in resource set A and requests concurrent access to resource R4 in resource set B. The system first determines whether application B's principal has permission to access R4. If so, the system then determines whether application B's principal has permission to concurrently access R2 and R4. If so, the concurrent access is enabled. Otherwise, the access request is rejected. If application B requests the creation of a new resource in resource set B, the system determines whether application B's principal has such permission. If so, the request is granted. Unprivileged application A may not concurrently access resources in separate resource sets even though application A's principal may have permission to access the resources individually. Similarly, application A's principal might have permission to create a new resource in resource set A (depending, as usual, on the access control lists associated with resource set A), while application A may not create a new resource in resource set B.
To practice the method illustrated with respect to
The management facility 380 operates, in part, by comparing the permissions given to principals with various access control lists. An exemplary access control list A accompanying resource set A may specify: a) that applications run by users A, B, and C may access resource set A; b) that user A may access resources R1 and R2 in resource set A, user B may access resources R2 and R3, and user C may access resource R1; and c) that all three users may create new resources in resource set A. An exemplary access control list B accompanying resource set B may specify: a) that only users B and C may access resource set B; b) that users B and C may access all resources in resource set B; and c) that no user may create a resource in resource set B. In addition to the access control lists, the management facility also maintains a record of: a) assignment relationships between virtual machines and application instances; and b) association relationships between resource sets and virtual machines.
If after determining that the access control lists do not allow a requested resource-access operation to take place, the management facility 380 preferably denies the request. When the denial is based on a prohibition against concurrent access, the management facility may “move” the requesting application from its original virtual machine to the virtual machine associated with the newly requested resource, at the same time severing the application's connection to any resources in the original virtual machine. Alternatively, the management facility may create a new instance of the requesting application in the virtual machine of the requested resource. In all of these possibilities, the management facility honors the access control lists' rules against concurrent access because no one instance of an application has concurrent access to the newly requested resources and to the resources in the application's original virtual machine.
The following is an exemplary Application Programming Interface (API) usable for implementing the methods of
VmInfo: A compound data type that describes a virtual machine. An implementation of this abstract data type might include such information as a name, creation time, etc.
VmId: A value that identifies a single virtual machine and is unique within (at least) a single physical machine.
Function: A method that should be called in response to a particular event.
Principal: A logical entity that can make requests.
ResourceInfo: A compound data type that describes a resource (such as a network interface or a route) that exists within the context of a single virtual machine.
ResourceId: A value that identifies a single resource and is unique within (at least) a single physical machine.
Module:. A logical, entity that owns resources.
Status: A result code.
The methods defined by this API for managing virtual machines are as follows:
Method for creating a virtual machine: create_vm(in Principal principal, in VmInfo info, out VmId identifier, out Status status).
Method for destroying a virtual machine: destroy_vm(in Principal principal, in VmId identifier, out Status status).
Methods for obtaining information about virtual machines: get_vm_info(in Principal principal, in VmId identifier, out VmInfo info, out Status status) and get_vm_info_set(in Principal principal, out “set of” VmInfo, out Status status).
Method for updating information about a virtual machine: update_vm_info(in Principal principal, in VmId identifier, in VmInfo info, out Status status).
Method for registering for change notifications:
register_for_vm_change_notifications(in Module module, in Principal principal, in Function notify_vm_created, in Function notify_vm_info_updated, in Function notify_vm_to_be_destroyed, out Status status).
Method for notification of VM creation: notify_vm_created(in VmId identifier, in VmInfo info).
Method for notification of VM information change:
notify_vm_info_updated(in VmId identifier, in VmInfo info).
Method for notification of VM destruction: notify_vm_to_be_destroyed(in VmId identifier).
Methods for managing a module's per-virtual machine resources:
create_resource(in Principal principal, in VmId origin_virtual_machine, in VmId destination_virtual_machine, in ResourceInfo info, out ResourceId identifier, out Status status) and access_resource(in Principal principal, in VmId origin_virtual_machine, in VmId destination_virtual_machine, in ResourceId identifier, out Status status).
With reference to
Device 800 may also contain one or more communications connections 812 that allow the device to communicate with other devices. Communications connections 812 are an example of communications media. Communications media typically embody computer-readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and include any information-delivery media. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communications media include wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection and wireless media such as acoustic; RF, infrared, and other wireless media. As discussed above, the term computer-readable media as used herein includes both storage media and communications media.
Device 800 may also have one or more input devices 814 such as a keyboard, mouse, pen, voice input device, touch input device, etc. One or more output devices 816 such as a display, speakers, printer, etc., may also be included. All these devices are well known in the art and need not be discussed at greater length here.
It will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that a new and useful method and system for managing access to multiple resources has been described herein. In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles of this invention may be applied, however, it should be recognized that the embodiments described herein with respect to the drawing figures are meant to be illustrative only and should not be taken as limiting the scope of invention. Those of skill in the art will recognize that the illustrated embodiments can be modified in arrangement and detail without departing from the spirit of the invention. Therefore, the invention as described herein contemplates all such embodiments as may come within the scope of the following claims and equivalents thereof.