Redundancy and diversity in security

by Bev Littlewood and Lorenzo Strigini. Proc. ESORICS 2004, 9th European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (Sophia Antipolis, France, September 2004), Springer-Verlag Lecture Notes in Computer Science

Redundancy and diversity are commonly applied principles for fault tolerance against accidental faults. Their use in security, which is attracting increasing interest, is less general and less of an accepted principle. In particular, redundancy without diversity is often argued to be useless against systematic attack, and diversity to be of dubious value. This paper discusses their roles and limits, and to what extent lessons from research on their use for reliability can be applied to security, in areas such as intrusion detection. We take a probabilistic approach to the problem, and argue its validity for security. We then discuss the various roles of redundancy and diversity for security, and show that some basic insights from probabilistic modelling in reliability and safety indeed apply to examples of design for security. We discuss the factors affecting the efficacy of redundancy and diversity, the role of "independence" between layers of defense, and some of the trade-offs facing designers.

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