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You are here: UMWiki>CBI_ComputerSecurity Web>Publications>PubBibaModel (26 Feb 2015, ThomasMisa)

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Biba Model


The Biba model (or Biba Integrity Model) was first published in 1975, then revised in 1977, approximately one year after the final MITRE publication of the Bell-LaPadula model of computer security. The Biba model, named after Kenneth Biba, was (like Bell-LaPadula) developed at the MITRE Corporation as part of the United States Air Force Electronic Systems Division's Secure General Purpose Computer Project.

The Bell-LaPadula and Biba models represented two somewhat different conceptualizations of what constituted computer security. The chief concern in computer security research for Department of Defense agencies during the 1970s was of data confidentiality, the prevention of unauthorized subjects (human or software) viewing data not permitted by their assigned security classification. Data confidentiality represented the primary concern of the Bell-LaPadula model, which ensured that a subject could not read data of a higher security classification, nor could it write secure data down to a lower classification.

In contrast the Biba Model addresses the concern of data integrity, attempting to ensure that data cannot be altered without authorization. This includes accidental changes as well as malicious alterations. The Biba model employs a system of integrity labels whose properties follow the counterpoint of Bell-LaPadula. According to the Biba model's "Simple Integrity Property," a subject may alter an object if the subject has an integrity level greater than the object being modified. Subjects also must not read-down to objects of a lower integrity level. The Biba model's "Invoke Property" allows subjects to call upon another subject, such as a program, to access and potentially alter an object. However, once it has been used to read data of a lower integrity level, the system will not allow that program to alter data of a higher integrity level, preventing "contamination" of the higher level data.

While David Bell, co-author of the Bell-LaPadula model, stated that the Biba model was not strong in implementation, he did note its importance for drawing attention to the issue of data integrity.(1)(2)(3)(4)


1 : Dieter Gollman, "Security Models," 628-629, in Karl de Leeuw and Jan Bergstra, eds., The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook, (Oxford, UK: Elsevier, 2007), 595-621.

2 : lock Kenneth J. Biba, "Integrity Considerations for Secure Computer Systems", MTR-3153, The Mitre Corporation, April 1977, 5, 9. (Log-in required)

3 : Jeffrey R. Yost, "An Interview with David Elliott Bell, OH 411," Charles Babbage Institute, 2012, 40-41.

4 : lock David D. Clark and David R. Wilson, "A Comparison of Commercial and Military Computer Security Policies," 191, in Proceedings of the 1987 IEEE Symposium on Research in Security and Privacy, Oakland, CA: IEEE Press, May 1987, 184–193. (Login required)

Topic revision: r17 - 26 Feb 2015 - 13:34:32 - ThomasMisa
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