A precursory overview on the current literature regarding UNIX systems reveals that while these systems are essential for developing operating systems, there are a number of vulnerabilities in the system overall. While some of these vulnerabilities are inherent in the system, others manifest as a consequence of the limitations of UNIX. With the realization that UNIX systems are so important and further that certain vulnerabilities exist, there is an impetus to elucidate weaknesses and understand what can be done to improve the system. To this end, this investigation considers three weaknesses of UNIX and possible solutions for correcting these problems.
Considering the specific weaknesses of the UNIX system that are inherent in the platform, researchers have noted that in order for UNIX systems to be secure they must be configured properly. If the UNIX system is not configured properly, hackers can gain access to the system simply by exploiting the central features of the platform that make it functional. Examining the specific steps that can be taken to improve security when it comes to configuration problems, experts agree that common sense tactics are needed in this case. To illustrate this point one author makes the following observation: “It may be helpful to change the fundamental view of data on the system: from readable by default to nonreadable by default. For instance, user files and directories should be protected against read access instead of being open by default. Setting umask values appropriately and using adjunct password files are just two examples of how this attitude can affect the system configuration” (Spafford, 56).
While the specific configuration of the UNIX system can serve as the basis for hackers to find vulnerabilities in the system, research on security issues regarding UNIX systems have also demonstrated that passwords used for access to the system can also serve as a point of entry for hackers. “Even the best planned security measures can be circumvented if passwords are not well managed. UNIX systems can pose a particular challenge to effective password management, because UNIX systems typically impose few restrictions on password use” (Conorich, 14). What this effectively suggests is that one of the key aspects of the UNIX platform that makes it such a palatable choice for many users is one of the key weaknesses of the system.