44.6. Multi-Level Security (MLS)

44.6. Multi-Level Security (MLS)

Protecting sensitive or confidential data is paramount in many businesses. In the event such information is made public, businesses may face legal or financial ramifications. At the very least, they will suffer a loss of customer trust. In most cases, however, they can recover from these financial and other losses with appropriate investment or compensation.

The same cannot be said of the defense and related communities, which includes military services, intelligence organizations and some areas of police service. These organizations cannot easily recover should sensitive information be leaked, and may not recover at all. These communities require higher levels of security than those employed by businesses and other organizations.

Having information of different security levels on the same computer systems poses a real threat. It is not a straight-forward matter to isolate different information security levels, even though different users log in using different accounts, with different permissions and different access controls.

Some organizations go as far as to purchase dedicated systems for each security level. This is often prohibitively expensive, however. A mechanism is required to enable users at different security levels to access systems simultaneously, without fear of information contamination.

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