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full-disclosure-uk: Re: [Full-disclosure] Linux big bang theory.

Re: [Full-disclosure] Linux big bang theory....

From: <Valdis.Kletnieks_at_nospam>
Date: Sat May 26 2007 - 16:48:34 GMT
To: Pavel Kankovsky <peak@argo.troja.mff.cuni.cz>

On Sat, 26 May 2007 11:42:46 +0200, Pavel Kankovsky said:
> On Mon, 21 May 2007, Vincent Archer wrote:
> > I don't have (and I doubt anybody around here can) the proof to make
> > this a theorem, but it is a good postulate:
> >
> > - It is impossible to prove the integrity of a computing system from
> > within the same system.
> >From a theoretical POV, it might be possible do it with a program
> requiring all memory of the tested system (*all* memory, including memory
> occupied by existing data -- whether it is possible to reconstruct them
> after the fact is a different question...) to compute a correct result.
> Several difficult conditions would have to be satisfied:

I'm not sure that's sufficient - at first glance, it appears that "proving the integrity" is a close relative of the Turing Halting problem. So you have to deal with all sorts of Turing/Godel issues. I may be wrong, as I haven't gotten much caffeine into me yet, but anytime you see the phrase "Prove introspective result about X within system X", step 0 of the proof needs to be something of the form "we can avoid Turing/Godel issues because...."

One important aspect that the system isn't just memory, it's the combination of memory and architecture, which often means microcode. So you also need to prove the microcode isn't tweaked (and such a tweak could conceivably include code of the form "if any attempt is made to examine the actual microcode contents, immediately hide the existence of any backdoors". (quite plausible, we've seen similar things done to prevent reverse-engineering by running code inside a debugger).

But hey, if your computational-theory-foo is stronger than mine, feel free to point out where I'm wrong...

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