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Securing Users and Processes in Oracle® Solaris 11.4

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Updated: September 2018

Securing Users and Processes Glossary

authenticated rights profile

A rights profile that requires the assigned user or role to type a password before executing an operation from the profile. This behavior is similar to sudo behavior. The length of time that the password is valid is configurable.


The process of verifying the claimed identity of a login or process.


A right that can be assigned to a role or user (or embedded in a rights profile) for performing a class of operations that are otherwise prohibited by security policy. Authorizations are enforced at the user application level, not in the kernel.

basic set

The set of privileges that are assigned to a user's process at login. On an unmodified system, each user's initial inheritable set equals the basic set at login.

effective set

The set of privileges that are currently in effect on a process.

inheritable set

The set of privileges that a process can inherit across a call to exec.

least privilege

A security model which gives a specified process only a subset of superuser powers. The least privilege model assigns enough privilege to regular users that they can perform personal administrative tasks, such as mount file systems and change the ownership of files. On the other hand, processes run with just those privileges that they need to complete the task, rather than with the full power of superuser, that is, all privileges. Damage due to programming errors like buffer overflows can be contained to a non-root user, which has no access to critical abilities like reading or writing protected system files or halting the system.

limit set

The outside limit of what privileges are available to a process and its children.

password policy

The encryption algorithms that can be used to generate passwords. Can also refer to more general issues around passwords, such as how often the passwords must be changed, how many password attempts are permitted, and other security considerations. Security policy requires passwords. Password policy might require passwords to be encrypted with the AES algorithm, and might make further requirements related to password strength.

permitted set

The set of privileges that are available for use by a process.


Generally, a plan or course of action that influences or determines decisions and actions. For computer systems, policy typically means security policy. Your site's security policy is the set of rules that define the sensitivity of the information that is being processed and the measures that are used to protect the information from unauthorized access. For example, security policy might require that passwords be changed every six weeks. See also password policy and rights policy.


1. In general, a power or capability to perform an operation on a computer system that is beyond the powers of a regular user. Superuser privileges are all the rights that superuser is granted. A privileged user or privileged application is a user or application that has been granted additional rights.

2. A discrete right on a process in an Oracle Solaris system. Privileges offer a finer-grained control of processes than does root. Privileges are defined and enforced in the kernel. Privileges are also called process privileges or kernel privileges. For a full description of privileges, see the privileges(7) man page.


Programs, scripts, and commands that turn on and off the use of privilege in their code. In a production environment, the privileges that are turned on must be supplied to the process, for example, by requiring users of the program to use a rights profile that adds the privileges to the program. For a full description of privileges, see the privileges(7) man page.

privilege escalation

Gaining access to resources that are outside the range of resources that your assigned rights, including rights that override the defaults, permit. The result is that a process can perform unauthorized operations.

privilege model

See rights model.

privilege set

A collection of privileges. Every process has four sets of privileges that determine whether a process can use a particular privilege. See limit set, effective set set, permitted set set, and inheritable set set.

Also, the basic set set of privileges is the collection of privileges that are assigned to a user's process at login.

privileged application

An application that can override system controls. The application checks for security attributes, such as specific UIDs, GIDs, authorizations, or privileges.

privileged user

A user who is assigned rights beyond the rights of regular user on a computer system. See also trusted users.


See rights profile.

profile shell

In rights management, a shell that enables a role (or user) to run from the command line any privileged applications that are assigned to the role's rights profiles. The profile shell versions correspond to the available shells on the system, such as the pfbash version of bash.


Role-based access control, the user rights management feature of Oracle Solaris. See rights.


The requirement to provide a password to perform a computer operation. Typically, sudo operations require reauthentication. Authenticated rights profiles can contain commands that require reauthentication. See authenticated rights profile.

RBAC policy

See rights policy.


An alternative to the all-or-nothing superuser model. User rights management and process rights management enable an organization to divide up superuser's privileges and assign them to users or roles. Rights in Oracle Solaris are implemented as kernel privileges, authorizations, and the ability to run a process as a specific UID or GID. Rights can be collected in a rights profile and a role.

rights model

A stricter model of security on a computer system than the superuser model. In the rights model, processes require privilege to run. Administration of the system can be divided into discrete parts that are based on the privileges that administrators have in their processes. Privileges can be assigned to an administrator's login process. Or, privileges can be assigned to be in effect for certain commands only.

rights policy

The security policy that is associated with a command. Currently, solaris is the valid policy for Oracle Solaris. The solaris policy recognizes privileges and extended privilege policy, authorizations, and setuid security attributes.

rights profile

Also referred to as a profile. A collection of security overrides that can be assigned to a role or user. A rights profile can include authorizations, privileges, commands with security attributes, and other rights profiles that are called supplementary profiles.


Accounts with rights that you create and assign to trusted users to perform administrative tasks. The armor package contains seven predefined roles.

security attributes

Overrides to security policy that enable an administrative command to succeed when the command is run by a user other than superuser. In the superuser model, the setuid root and setgid programs are security attributes. When these attributes are applied to a command, the command succeeds no matter who runs the command. In the privilege model, kernel privileges and other rights replace setuid root programs as security attributes. The privilege model is compatible with the superuser model, in that the privilege model also recognizes the setuid and setgid programs as security attributes.

security policy

See policy.

separation of duty

Part of the notion of least privilege. Separation of duty prevents one user from performing or approving all operations that complete a transaction. For example, in RBAC, you can separate the creation of a login user from the assignment of security overrides. One role creates the user. A separate role can assign security attributes, such as rights profiles, roles, and privileges to existing users.

superuser model

The typical UNIX model of security on a computer system. In the superuser model, an administrator has all-or-nothing control of the system. Typically, to administer the system, a user becomes superuser (root) and can do all administrative activities.

trusted users

Users who you have decided can perform administrative tasks at some level of trust. Typically, administrators create logins for trusted users first and assign administrative rights that match the users' level of trust and ability. These users then help configure and maintain the system. Also called privileged users.