Least Common Mechanism

The concept of least common mechanism is constructed to prevent inadvertent security failures. Designing a system where multiple processes share a common mechanism can lead to a potential information pathway between users or processes. The concepts of least common mechanism and leverage existing components can place a designer at a conflicting crossroad. One concept advocates reuse and the other separation. The choice is a case of determining the correct balance associated with the risk from each.

Take a system where users can access or modify database records based on their user credentials. Having a single interface that handles all requests can lead to inadvertent weaknesses. If reading is considered one level of security and modification of records a more privileged activity, then combining them into a single routine exposes the high-privilege action to a potential low-privilege account. Thus, separating mechanisms based on security levels can be an important design tool.

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