Gaining Root Access


General Discussion


Does one have to gain root access before gaining access to enivronmental systems? I'd say yes. It seems that I have been making mistakes on how players should crack computer systems.

What do you all have to say?


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Root access is for the IT professionals. Basic access is for the normal users. Do you want the secretary to be able to control the temperature? Probably yes, unless he is from some ice planet. So basic controls would not require root access.

Do you want the same guy to be able to shut off all the air and suffocate his coworkers? Probably not. So this would require root access.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

He's correct with one added detail: You'd want to make "root access" or even "admin level" access a higher computers roll than "user level". You also might want them to have to throw up physical barriers to the access sites because gaining Root access to a network is serious stuff and the higher the function, the tougher the access to the admin level, I work for a state computer network, our machine room is air conditioned and in a high security area on campus. One part of the Root access point for the ENTIRE internet is in a high security room on a military base.


thecursor wrote:
He's correct with one added detail: You'd want to make "root access" or even "admin level" access a higher computers roll than "user level".

It already is a higher roll. +20 to the DC to gain root access. So to hack a user workstation might be DC 15 but to get root access from that station is DC 35.

As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation. Maybe that's a separate system that can only be accessed from a special terminal which has additional physical defenses (turrets, locked doors, mechanical traps, etc.) or software defenses (countermeasures that are not on the main computer network).

It's almost certain that self-destruct terminals cannot be accessed by your average disgruntled crewman from his own workstation with a good hacking skill.

Assuming you're on a ship or station or whatever, and the designer did put these kinds of system on the general network, he's probably hoping that the root access to them is so hard that nobody hacks them. But he probably also put additional firewalls or other countermeasures including alarms, security response robots, fake shells, etc., all in place to keep you out and/or slow you down until security can come to arrest you.

A better way might just be to find the guy, usually the captain (or whatever his "boss" title might be) and get his access card and password - then you don't even need root access and you won't trip any alarms because he has been granted full security access to that module. Suffocate to your heart's content!


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DM_Blake wrote:


As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation.

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
breithauptclan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation.

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

*Googles Therac-25*

Damn.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
breithauptclan wrote:

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

Greetings, fellow QA Engineer!


DM_Blake wrote:


A better way might just be to find the guy, usually the captain (or whatever his "boss" title might be) and get his access card and password - then you don't even need root access and you won't trip any alarms because he has been granted full security access to that module. Suffocate to your heart's content!

Having a password and access card only gives you bonuses to hack in Starfinder, it doesn't give you actual access. If you need an explanation, toss in some sort of universal biometric screening as a third factor, I guess.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
breithauptclan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation.

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

The problem is, there may well be legitimate circumstances where "venting the atmosphere" is something you really do want to do. 'Fire' being the most obvious. And depending on how big the ship is, strictly analog electro-mechanical systems for handling atmosphere venting may not be practical.


Metaphysician wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation.

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

The problem is, there may well be legitimate circumstances where "venting the atmosphere" is something you really do want to do. 'Fire' being the most obvious. And depending on how big the ship is, strictly analog electro-mechanical systems for handling atmosphere venting may not be practical.

Classically some Traveler Ships decompressed before combat - stops those nasty fires. The crews obviously where in vacsuits.

You probably would want to be in armour in an engagement even if you where still pressurized as you could dump fire suppressant into the crew spaces.

And I suspect that there would be a hard air gap between safety critical systems and the general computers.


DM_Blake wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

Greetings, fellow QA Engineer!

* Grins and waves *


Ravingdork wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


As for other safeguards, it's very plausible that the system to shut off the air and suffocate people on the ship is not even accessible from any general workstation.

For well built systems, the designers should have learned the lessons of Therac-25 and would have hardware interlocks that prevent hackers from venting atmosphere - even with root access.

For cut-rate budget systems though...

*Googles Therac-25*

Damn.

Some other staple software disasters I remember from college:

The Arianne 5 rocket: integer overflow, error handling, and testing with real data.

The Patriot Missile failure: floating point rounding error.

The Denver Airport baggage handling system: General incompetence in understanding a large scale system.

And of course the disaster waiting to happen: https://xkcd.com/2030/

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