Visible to the public Scientific Understanding of Policy Complexity - January 2017Conflict Detection Enabled

Public Audience
Purpose: To highlight project progress. Information is generally at a higher level which is accessible to the interested public. All information contained in the report (regions 1-3) is a Government Deliverable/CDRL.

PI(s):  Ninghui Li, Robert Proctor, Emerson Murphy-Hill
Researchers: Jing Chen, Haining Chen, Huangyi Ge, Matt Witte



  • Policy-Governed Secure Collaboration -  Security policies can be very complex, in the sense that they are difficult for humans to understand and update.  We are interested in two kinds of complexity measures.  The first is a measure of the inherent complexity of a policy.  The second is a measure of the representational complexity, which is the complexity of a particular way to encode the policy.  It is desirable to have a scientific understanding of both kinds of complexity. 
  • Human Behavior - Our policy complexity is based on how easy for humans to understand and write policies.  There is thus a human behavior aspect to it. 

Report papers written as a results of this research. If accepted by or submitted to a journal, which journal. If presented at a conference, which conference.



  • We analyzed SEAndroid policies from six OEMs, in each of them we have found multiple types of policy inconsistencies.  The kinds of problems include: the combination of multiple allow rules cause unintended privilege escalation, policies with very different security requirements are treated the same way in SEAndroid policies, over-permissive policies, and so on.  Such problems occur across multiple vendors.