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The Cake is a Lie: Privilege Rings as a Policy Resource

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Executive Summary

Components of commodity OS kernels typically execute at the same privilege level. Consequently, the compromise of even a single component undermines the trustworthiness of the entire kernel and its ability to enforce separation between user-level processes. Reliably containing the extent of a compromised kernel component is a problem to which few practical solutions exist. While many approaches have been proposed to reduce the need to trust large portions of the kernel, most of these approaches represent exotic reorganizations of the hardware or OS kernel that are either not applicable to commodity systems or are relatively complex and difficult to debug in their own right (e.g., microkernels).

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