Architecture-centric testing for security

Al-Azzani, Sarah (2014). Architecture-centric testing for security. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents a novel architecture-centric approach, which uses Implied Scenarios (IS) to detect design-vulnerabilities in the software architecture. It reviews security testing approaches, and draws on their limitations in addressing unpredictable behaviour in the face of evolution. The thesis introduces the concept of Security ISs as unanticipated (possibly malicious) behaviours that indicate potential insecurities in the architecture.
The IS approach uses the architecture as the appropriate level of abstraction to tackle the complexity of testing. It provides potential for scalability to test large scale complex applications. It proposes a three-phased method for security testing: (1) Detecting design-level vulnerabilities in the architecture in an incremental manner by composing functionalities as they evolve. (2) Classifying the impact of detected ISs on the security of the architecture. (3) Using the detected ISs and their impact to guide the refinement of the architecture. The refinement is test-driven and incremental, where refinements are tested before they are committed. The thesis also presents SecArch, an extension to the IS approach to enhance its search-space to detect hidden race conditions. The thesis reports on the applications of the proposed approach and its extension to three case studies for testing the security of distributed and cloud architectures in the presence of uncertainty in the operating environment, unpredictability of interaction and possible security IS.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Computer Science
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software


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