How AMNESIA:33 Does affect TRENTOS (NOT)

AMNESIA:33 is the second time in 2020 (remember Ripple:20) where IP Stacks integrated in embedded software produce severe security issues. As the picoTCP Stack from Altran is integrated in our microkernel-based operating system TRENTOS which is targeting the high security market, TRENTOS is affected by those issues as well.

But wait: We say TRENTOS is based on a formally verified microkernel with guaranteed security features – How come we are affected by security issues like any other platform?

The point is: we are not. When we were informed about AMNESIA:33 it took us only hours to analyze the impact of those severe security issues on our operating system. The results of that analysis can be seen as a real-world confirmation of microkernel based security mitigations (see 1). In the mentioned paper, existent Linux CVEs are analyzed for their criticality in microkernel based operating systems; showing that for the most of them their criticality is significantly reduced. However, this was done analyzing existent vulnerabilities of the past.

For AMNESIA:33 we can confirm those results by a live example: Out of the 10 vulnerabilities reported for PicoTCP, 8 are not existent within the TRENTOS Software as unused functionalities are disabled and hence aren´t usable. The remaining vulnerabilities are Partially migrated by Microkernel (CIA –confidentiality, integrity and availability), lowering the impact of possible exploits to an “A” score – which means that Denial of service attacks may be possible, but only have an impact on the availability of the IP Stack component; not the whole system.

 So our microkernel – based operating system architecture protects our clients systems from being exploited even by such critical vulnerabilities of untrusted components.

Nevertheless, a fix for the remaining vulnerabilities with lowered impact has been distributed already to our customers and is of course integrated in current and future versions of TRENTOS.

[1] https://ts.data61.csiro.au/publications/csiro_full_text/Biggs_LH_18.pdf

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