SELinux policy management framework for HIS

Marin, Luis Franco (2008) SELinux policy management framework for HIS. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Health Information Systems (HIS) make extensive use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The use of ICT aids in improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare services by making healthcare information available at the point of care (Goldstein, Groen, Ponkshe, and Wine, 2007). The increasing availability of healthcare data presents security and privacy issues which have not yet been fully addressed (Liu, Caelli, May, and Croll, 2008a). Healthcare organisations have to comply with the security and privacy requirements stated in laws, regulations and ethical standards, while managing healthcare information. Protecting the security and privacy of healthcare information is a very complex task (Liu, May, Caelli and Croll, 2008b). In order to simplify the complexity of providing security and privacy in HIS, appropriate information security services and mechanisms have to be implemented. Solutions at the application layer have already been implemented in HIS such as those existing in healthcare web services (Weaver et al., 2003). In addition, Discretionary Access Control (DAC) is the most commonly implemented access control model to restrict access to resources at the OS layer (Liu, Caelli, May, Croll and Henricksen, 2007a). Nevertheless, the combination of application security mechanisms and DAC at the OS layer has been stated to be insufficient in satisfying security requirements in computer systems (Loscocco et al., 1998). This thesis investigates the feasibility of implementing Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) to enforce a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) policy to help protect resources at the Operating System (OS) layer. SELinux provides Mandatory Access Control (MAC) mechanisms at the OS layer. These mechanisms can contain the damage from compromised applications and restrict access to resources according to the security policy implemented. The main contribution of this research is to provide a modern framework to implement and manage SELinux in HIS. The proposed framework introduces SELinux Profiles to restrict access permissions over the system resources to authorised users. The feasibility of using SELinux profiles in HIS was demonstrated through the creation of a prototype, which was submitted to various attack scenarios. The prototype was also subjected to testing during emergency scenarios, where changes to the security policies had to be made on the spot. Attack scenarios were based on vulnerabilities common at the application layer. SELinux demonstrated that it could effectively contain attacks at the application layer and provide adequate flexibility during emergency situations. However, even with the use of current tools, the development of SELinux policies can be very complex. Further research has to be made in order to simplify the management of SELinux policies and access permissions. In addition, SELinux related technologies, such as the Policy Management Server by Tresys Technologies, need to be researched in order to provide solutions at different layers of protection.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 26358
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Sahama, Tony R.
Keywords: information security, security for health systems, health information systems, access control, security enhanced linux, mandatory access control, operating systems, trusted systems
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Jul 2009 04:31
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 13:52

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