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Secure information flow: analysis and enforcement

Adetoye, Adedayo Oyelakin (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

When a computer program requires legitimate access to confidential data, the question arises whether such a program may reveal sensitive information to an unauthorised observer. There is therefore a need to ensure that a program, which processes confidential data, is free of unwanted information flow. This thesis presents a formal framework for the analysis and enforcement of secure information flow in computational systems such as computer programs. An important aspect of the problem of secure information flow is the development of policies by which we can express intended information release. For this reason information lattices and maps on these lattices are presented as models, which capture intuitive notions about information and information flow. A definition of security is given, based on the lattice formalisation of information and information flow, that exploits the partial order of the information lattice. The lattice formalisation gives us a uniform way to enforce information security policies under various qualitative and quantitative representations of information. An input-output relational model, which describes how a system transforms its input to publicly observable outputs with respect to a given attacker model, is presented as a primitive for the study of secure information flow. By using the relational model, various representations of information, which are shown to fit into the lattice model of information, are derived for the analysis of information flow under deterministic and nondeterministic system models. A systematic technique to derive the relational model of a system, under a given attacker model, from the operational semantics in a language-based setting, is also presented. This allows the development of information flow analyses parametrised by chosen attacker models. A flow-sensitive and termination-sensitive static analysis calculus is presented for the analysis of information flow in programs written in a deterministic While language with outputs. The analysis is shown to be correct with respect to an attacker model that is able to observe all program outputs and which can determine the termination or nontermination of program execution. The static analysis also detects certain disjunctive information release. A termination-sensitive dependency analysis is developed which demonstrates how, by employing abstract interpretation techniques, other less precise but possibly more efficient information flow analysis may be obtained. The thesis concludes with further examples to highlight various aspects of the information flow analysis and enforcement framework developed.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Ritter, Erik (Dr)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Department:Computer Science
Keywords:Information flow security; formal modelling; language-based security
Subjects:T Technology (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:408
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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