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System and Methodology for N-person authentication in AIX Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198334D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-05
Document File: 4 page(s) / 91K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Disclosed below is an idea on N-Man Authenticationwhich is an essential security mechanism to prevent misuse of access/power, provide enhanced security and eliminate a single source of corruption or failure . This idea below proposes a new methodology to incorporate N-Man Authentication in AIX which would also provide a system to authenticate using roles. This provides a one of a kind mechanism especially in the operating systems domain which not only would provide enhanced security but also flexibility and ease of management

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System and Methodology for N-person authentication in AIX

New method and framework for N - Person / N - Role Authentication

In case of critical operations,

                /authority. Currently no mechanism exists in operating systems implementation to prevent such an escalation/misuse of power. The following idea proposes to enforce a security policy which would mandate more than one person be present while executing critical tasks.

The two person rule is a control mechanism which prevents misuse or accidental use of authority/control for critical functions/responsibilities. Critical operations which would cause irreparable damage would need authorization of at least two persons at the highest level.

Prior Art in Operating Systems:

Solaris had implemented two person rule at user level by assigning a role to an user but giving the password of the role to another user making use of role passwords.

Disadvantage of Solaris approach: Once a role session has been activated by two persons, the session will allow execution of all commands allowed for that role.

Our proposal:

RBAC (Role Based Access Control) is a framework that allows for administration of system using roles. RBAC overcomes the pitfall in traditional UNIX OS' where only a super user "root" can do all administrative functions on the system by splitting these functions into smaller units called roles which when assigned to a normal user allows him to perform administrative functions.

We propose a unique implementation of Two person rule which would provide enhanced flexibility, management and security compared to existing approaches.


A command could be provided to enable/disable nman authentication on the system.

The authorized commands and their respective authorizations are placed in an authorized commands table with a attribute "nauthsreqd" and would appear similar to "

authorizations = auth1


otential misuse of powe




/control resting with a single individual/entity could lead to


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            riv2 nauthsreqd = 3 specialflags =


privileges =




where specialflags would specify a new flag NAUTH which would necessitate nman authentication for that particular command
and nauthsreqd would specify the number of people required to authenticate with the same role as of the user who executed the command.

We propose a wrapper around exec which would prompt for the username and password when a n person authentication is enabled on the system and also for the command. So when such a command is executed, this exec wrapper is called which performs the authentication i.e a


 rompt for a user name and password and checks if the username provided is not the username of the caller and also that the username has the same role attached to it.

For example if there is a role Role


                      Destroy assigned to userA and which in turn contains an authorization system.destroy needed to executed "/usr/sbin/XYZ" comma...