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2021-06-01
Ghosal, Sandip, Shyamasundar, R. K..  2020.  A Generalized Notion of Non-interference for Flow Security of Sequential and Concurrent Programs. 2020 27th Asia-Pacific Software Engineering Conference (APSEC). :51–60.
For the last two decades, a wide spectrum of interpretations of non-interference11The notion of non-interference discussed in this paper enforces flow security in a program and is different from the concept of non-interference used for establishing functional correctness of parallel programs [1] have been used in the security analysis of programs, starting with the notion proposed by Goguen & Meseguer along with arguments of its impact on security practice. While the majority of works deal with sequential programs, several researchers have extended the notion of non-interference to enforce information flow-security in non-deterministic and concurrent programs. Major efforts of generalizations are based on (i) considering input sequences as a basic unit for input/output with semantic interpretation on a two-point information flow lattice, or (ii) typing of expressions as values for reading and writing, or (iii) typing of expressions along with its limited effects. Such approaches have limited compositionality and, thus, pose issues while extending these notions for concurrent programs. Further, in a general multi-point lattice, the notion of a public observer (or attacker) is not unique as it depends on the level of the attacker and the one attacked. In this paper, we first propose a compositional variant of non-interference for sequential systems that follow a general information flow lattice and place it in the context of earlier definitions of non-interference. We show that such an extension leads to the capturing of violations of information flow security in a concrete setting of a sequential language. Finally, we generalize non-interference for concurrent programs and illustrate its use for security analysis, particularly in the cases where information is transmitted through shared variables.
2021-04-29
Lu, Y., Zhang, C..  2020.  Nontransitive Security Types for Coarse-grained Information Flow Control. 2020 IEEE 33rd Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF). :199—213.

Language-based information flow control (IFC) aims to provide guarantees about information propagation in computer systems having multiple security levels. Existing IFC systems extend the lattice model of Denning's, enforcing transitive security policies by tracking information flows along with a partially ordered set of security levels. They yield a transitive noninterference property of either confidentiality or integrity. In this paper, we explore IFC for security policies that are not necessarily transitive. Such nontransitive security policies avoid unwanted or unexpected information flows implied by transitive policies and naturally accommodate high-level coarse-grained security requirements in modern component-based software. We present a novel security type system for enforcing nontransitive security policies. Unlike traditional security type systems that verify information propagation by subtyping security levels of a transitive policy, our type system relaxes strong transitivity by inferring information flow history through security levels and ensuring that they respect the nontransitive policy in effect. Such a type system yields a new nontransitive noninterference property that offers more flexible information flow relations induced by security policies that do not have to be transitive, therefore generalizing the conventional transitive noninterference. This enables us to directly reason about the extent of information flows in the program and restrict interactions between security-sensitive and untrusted components.

2021-03-04
Algehed, M., Flanagan, C..  2020.  Transparent IFC Enforcement: Possibility and (In)Efficiency Results. 2020 IEEE 33rd Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF). :65—78.

Information Flow Control (IFC) is a collection of techniques for ensuring a no-write-down no-read-up style security policy known as noninterference. Traditional methods for both static (e.g. type systems) and dynamic (e.g. runtime monitors) IFC suffer from untenable numbers of false alarms on real-world programs. Secure Multi-Execution (SME) promises to provide secure information flow control without modifying the behaviour of already secure programs, a property commonly referred to as transparency. Implementations of SME exist for the web in the form of the FlowFox browser and as plug-ins to several programming languages. Furthermore, SME can in theory work in a black-box manner, meaning that it can be programming language agnostic, making it perfect for securing legacy or third-party systems. As such SME, and its variants like Multiple Facets (MF) and Faceted Secure Multi-Execution (FSME), appear to be a family of panaceas for the security engineer. The question is, how come, given all these advantages, that these techniques are not ubiquitous in practice? The answer lies, partially, in the issue of runtime and memory overhead. SME and its variants are prohibitively expensive to deploy in many non-trivial situations. The natural question is why is this the case? On the surface, the reason is simple. The techniques in the SME family all rely on the idea of multi-execution, running all or parts of a program multiple times to achieve noninterference. Naturally, this causes some overhead. However, the predominant thinking in the IFC community has been that these overheads can be overcome. In this paper we argue that there are fundamental reasons to expect this not to be the case and prove two key theorems: (1) All transparent enforcement is polynomial time equivalent to multi-execution. (2) All black-box enforcement takes time exponential in the number of principals in the security lattice. Our methods also allow us to answer, in the affirmative, an open question about the possibility of secure and transparent enforcement of a security condition known as Termination Insensitive Noninterference.

2020-04-03
Al-Haj, Ali, Aziz, Benjamin.  2019.  Enforcing Multilevel Security Policies in Database-Defined Networks using Row-Level Security. 2019 International Conference on Networked Systems (NetSys). :1-6.

Despite the wide of range of research and technologies that deal with the problem of routing in computer networks, there remains a gap between the level of network hardware administration and the level of business requirements and constraints. Not much has been accomplished in literature in order to have a direct enforcement of such requirements on the network. This paper presents a new solution in specifying and directly enforcing security policies to control the routing configuration in a software-defined network by using Row-Level Security checks which enable fine-grained security policies on individual rows in database tables. We show, as a first step, how a specific class of such policies, namely multilevel security policies, can be enforced on a database-defined network, which presents an abstraction of a network's configuration as a set of database tables. We show that such policies can be used to control the flow of data in the network either in an upward or downward manner.

2020-01-20
Gollamudi, Anitha, Chong, Stephen, Arden, Owen.  2019.  Information Flow Control for Distributed Trusted Execution Environments. 2019 IEEE 32nd Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF). :304–30414.

Distributed applications cannot assume that their security policies will be enforced on untrusted hosts. Trusted execution environments (TEEs) combined with cryptographic mechanisms enable execution of known code on an untrusted host and the exchange of confidential and authenticated messages with it. TEEs do not, however, establish the trustworthiness of code executing in a TEE. Thus, developing secure applications using TEEs requires specialized expertise and careful auditing. This paper presents DFLATE, a core security calculus for distributed applications with TEEs. DFLATE offers high-level abstractions that reflect both the guarantees and limitations of the underlying security mechanisms they are based on. The accuracy of these abstractions is exhibited by asymmetry between confidentiality and integrity in our formal results: DFLATE enforces a strong form of noninterference for confidentiality, but only a weak form for integrity. This reflects the asymmetry of the security guarantees of a TEE: a malicious host cannot access secrets in the TEE or modify its contents, but they can suppress or manipulate the sequence of its inputs and outputs. Therefore DFLATE cannot protect against the suppression of high-integrity messages, but when these messages are delivered, their contents cannot have been influenced by an attacker.

2019-02-14
Schuette, J., Brost, G. S..  2018.  LUCON: Data Flow Control for Message-Based IoT Systems. 2018 17th IEEE International Conference On Trust, Security And Privacy In Computing And Communications/ 12th IEEE International Conference On Big Data Science And Engineering (TrustCom/BigDataSE). :289-299.

Today's emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) scenarios are characterized by the exchange of data between services across enterprises. Traditional access and usage control mechanisms are only able to determine if data may be used by a subject, but lack an understanding of how it may be used. The ability to control the way how data is processed is however crucial for enterprises to guarantee (and provide evidence of) compliant processing of critical data, as well as for users who need to control if their private data may be analyzed or linked with additional information - a major concern in IoT applications processing personal information. In this paper, we introduce LUCON, a data-centric security policy framework for distributed systems that considers data flows by controlling how messages may be routed across services and how they are combined and processed. LUCON policies prevent information leaks, bind data usage to obligations, and enforce data flows across services. Policy enforcement is based on a dynamic taint analysis at runtime and an upfront static verification of message routes against policies. We discuss the semantics of these two complementing enforcement models and illustrate how LUCON policies are compiled from a simple policy language into a first-order logic representation. We demonstrate the practical application of LUCON in a real-world IoT middleware and discuss its integration into Apache Camel. Finally, we evaluate the runtime impact of LUCON and discuss performance and scalability aspects.

2018-10-15
Benjamin E. Ujcich, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Samuel Jero, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Anne Edmundson, Princeton University, Qi Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Richard Skowyra, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, James Landry, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Adam Bates, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, William H. Sanders, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Cristina Nita-Rotaru, Northeastern University, Hamed Okhravi, MIT Lincoln Laboratroy.  2018.  Cross-App Poisoning in Software-Defined Networking. 2018 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

Software-defined networking (SDN) continues to grow in popularity because of its programmable and extensible control plane realized through network applications (apps). However, apps introduce significant security challenges that can systemically disrupt network operations, since apps must access or modify data in a shared control plane state. If our understanding of how such data propagate within the control plane is inadequate, apps can co-opt other apps, causing them to poison the control plane’s integrity. 

We present a class of SDN control plane integrity attacks that we call cross-app poisoning (CAP), in which an unprivileged app manipulates the shared control plane state to trick a privileged app into taking actions on its behalf. We demonstrate how role-based access control (RBAC) schemes are insufficient for preventing such attacks because they neither track information flow nor enforce information flow control (IFC). We also present a defense, ProvSDN, that uses data provenance to track information flow and serves as an online reference monitor to prevent CAP attacks. We implement ProvSDN on the ONOS SDN controller and demonstrate that information flow can be tracked with low-latency overheads.

2018-03-26
Shockley, Matt, Maixner, Chris, Johnson, Ryan, DeRidder, Mitch, Petullo, W. Michael.  2017.  Using VisorFlow to Control Information Flow Without Modifying the Operating System Kernel or Its Userspace. Proceedings of the 2017 International Workshop on Managing Insider Security Threats. :13–24.

VisorFlow aims to monitor the flow of information between processes without requiring modifications to the operating system kernel or its userspace. VisorFlow runs in a privileged Xen domain and monitors the system calls executing in other domains running either Linux or Windows. VisorFlow uses its observations to prevent confidential information from leaving a local network. We describe the design and implementation of VisorFlow, describe how we used VisorFlow to confine na\"ıve users and malicious insiders during the 2017 Cyber-Defense Exercise, and provide performance measurements. We have released VisorFlow and its companion library, libguestrace, as open-source software.

2018-02-15
Austin, Thomas H., Schmitz, Tommy, Flanagan, Cormac.  2017.  Multiple Facets for Dynamic Information Flow with Exceptions. ACM Trans. Program. Lang. Syst.. 39:10:1–10:56.
JavaScript is the source of many security problems, including cross-site scripting attacks and malicious advertising code. Central to these problems is the fact that code from untrusted sources runs with full privileges. Information flow controls help prevent violations of data confidentiality and integrity. This article explores faceted values, a mechanism for providing information flow security in a dynamic manner that avoids the stuck executions of some prior approaches, such as the no-sensitive-upgrade technique. Faceted values simultaneously simulate multiple executions for different security levels to guarantee termination-insensitive noninterference. We also explore the interaction of faceted values with exceptions, declassification, and clearance.
2017-10-13
Costanzo, David, Shao, Zhong, Gu, Ronghui.  2016.  End-to-end Verification of Information-flow Security for C and Assembly Programs. Proceedings of the 37th ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation. :648–664.

Protecting the confidentiality of information manipulated by a computing system is one of the most important challenges facing today's cybersecurity community. A promising step toward conquering this challenge is to formally verify that the end-to-end behavior of the computing system really satisfies various information-flow policies. Unfortunately, because today's system software still consists of both C and assembly programs, the end-to-end verification necessarily requires that we not only prove the security properties of individual components, but also carefully preserve these properties through compilation and cross-language linking. In this paper, we present a novel methodology for formally verifying end-to-end security of a software system that consists of both C and assembly programs. We introduce a general definition of observation function that unifies the concepts of policy specification, state indistinguishability, and whole-execution behaviors. We show how to use different observation functions for different levels of abstraction, and how to link different security proofs across abstraction levels using a special kind of simulation that is guaranteed to preserve state indistinguishability. To demonstrate the effectiveness of our new methodology, we have successfully constructed an end-to-end security proof, fully formalized in the Coq proof assistant, of a nontrivial operating system kernel (running on an extended CompCert x86 assembly machine model). Some parts of the kernel are written in C and some are written in assembly; we verify all of the code, regardless of language.

2017-09-19
Tromer, Eran, Schuster, Roei.  2016.  DroidDisintegrator: Intra-Application Information Flow Control in Android Apps. Proceedings of the 11th ACM on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :401–412.

In mobile platforms and their app markets, controlling app permissions and preventing abuse of private information are crucial challenges. Information Flow Control (IFC) is a powerful approach for formalizing and answering user concerns such as: "Does this app send my geolocation to the Internet?" Yet despite intensive research efforts, IFC has not been widely adopted in mainstream programming practice. Abstract We observe that the typical structure of Android apps offers an opportunity for a novel and effective application of IFC. In Android, an app consists of a collection of a few dozen "components", each in charge of some high-level functionality. Most components do not require access to most resources. These components are a natural and effective granularity at which to apply IFC (as opposed to the typical process-level or language-level granularity). By assigning different permission labels to each component, and limiting information flow between components, it is possible to express and enforce IFC constraints. Yet nuances of the Android platform, such as its multitude of discretionary (and somewhat arcane) communication channels, raise challenges in defining and enforcing component boundaries. Abstract We build a system, DroidDisintegrator, which demonstrates the viability of component-level IFC for expressing and controlling app behavior. DroidDisintegrator uses dynamic analysis to generate IFC policies for Android apps, repackages apps to embed these policies, and enforces the policies at runtime. We evaluate DroidDisintegrator on dozens of apps.

2017-04-24
Pasquier, Thomas, Bacon, Jean, Singh, Jatinder, Eyers, David.  2016.  Data-Centric Access Control for Cloud Computing. Proceedings of the 21st ACM on Symposium on Access Control Models and Technologies. :81–88.

The usual approach to security for cloud-hosted applications is strong separation. However, it is often the case that the same data is used by different applications, particularly given the increase in data-driven (`big data' and IoT) applications. We argue that access control for the cloud should no longer be application-specific but should be data-centric, associated with the data that can flow between applications. Indeed, the data may originate outside cloud services from diverse sources such as medical monitoring, environmental sensing etc. Information Flow Control (IFC) potentially offers data-centric, system-wide data access control. It has been shown that IFC can be provided at operating system level as part of a PaaS offering, with an acceptable overhead. In this paper we consider how IFC can be integrated with application-specific access control, transparently from application developers, while building from simple IFC primitives, access control policies that align with the data management obligations of cloud providers and tenants.

2015-11-17
Xusheng Xiao, NEC Laboratories America, Nikolai Tillmann, Microsoft Research, Manuel Fahndrich, Microsoft Research, Jonathan de Halleux, Microsoft Research, Michal Moskal, Microsoft Research, Tao Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  2015.  User-Aware Privacy Control via Extended Static-Information-Flow Analysis. Automated Software Engineering Journal. 22(3)

Applications in mobile marketplaces may leak private user information without notification. Existing mobile platforms provide little information on how applications use private user data, making it difficult for experts to validate appli- cations and for users to grant applications access to their private data. We propose a user-aware-privacy-control approach, which reveals how private information is used inside applications. We compute static information flows and classify them as safe/un- safe based on a tamper analysis that tracks whether private data is obscured before escaping through output channels. This flow information enables platforms to provide default settings that expose private data for only safe flows, thereby preserving privacy and minimizing decisions required from users. We build our approach into TouchDe- velop, an application-creation environment that allows users to write scripts on mobile devices and install scripts published by other users. We evaluate our approach by studying 546 scripts published by 194 users, and the results show that our approach effectively reduces the need to make access-granting choices to only 10.1 % (54) of all scripts. We also conduct a user survey that involves 50 TouchDevelop users to assess the effectiveness and usability of our approach. The results show that 90 % of the users consider our approach useful in protecting their privacy, and 54 % prefer our approach over other privacy-control approaches.

2015-05-06
Sayed, B., Traore, I..  2014.  Protection against Web 2.0 Client-Side Web Attacks Using Information Flow Control. Advanced Information Networking and Applications Workshops (WAINA), 2014 28th International Conference on. :261-268.

The dynamic nature of the Web 2.0 and the heavy obfuscation of web-based attacks complicate the job of the traditional protection systems such as Firewalls, Anti-virus solutions, and IDS systems. It has been witnessed that using ready-made toolkits, cyber-criminals can launch sophisticated attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and botnets to name a few. In recent years, cyber-criminals have targeted legitimate websites and social networks to inject malicious scripts that compromise the security of the visitors of such websites. This involves performing actions using the victim browser without his/her permission. This poses the need to develop effective mechanisms for protecting against Web 2.0 attacks that mainly target the end-user. In this paper, we address the above challenges from information flow control perspective by developing a framework that restricts the flow of information on the client-side to legitimate channels. The proposed model tracks sensitive information flow and prevents information leakage from happening. The proposed model when applied to the context of client-side web-based attacks is expected to provide a more secure browsing environment for the end-user.

Sayed, B., Traore, I..  2014.  Protection against Web 2.0 Client-Side Web Attacks Using Information Flow Control. Advanced Information Networking and Applications Workshops (WAINA), 2014 28th International Conference on. :261-268.

The dynamic nature of the Web 2.0 and the heavy obfuscation of web-based attacks complicate the job of the traditional protection systems such as Firewalls, Anti-virus solutions, and IDS systems. It has been witnessed that using ready-made toolkits, cyber-criminals can launch sophisticated attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and botnets to name a few. In recent years, cyber-criminals have targeted legitimate websites and social networks to inject malicious scripts that compromise the security of the visitors of such websites. This involves performing actions using the victim browser without his/her permission. This poses the need to develop effective mechanisms for protecting against Web 2.0 attacks that mainly target the end-user. In this paper, we address the above challenges from information flow control perspective by developing a framework that restricts the flow of information on the client-side to legitimate channels. The proposed model tracks sensitive information flow and prevents information leakage from happening. The proposed model when applied to the context of client-side web-based attacks is expected to provide a more secure browsing environment for the end-user.

2015-05-05
Sayed, B., Traore, I..  2014.  Protection against Web 2.0 Client-Side Web Attacks Using Information Flow Control. Advanced Information Networking and Applications Workshops (WAINA), 2014 28th International Conference on. :261-268.

The dynamic nature of the Web 2.0 and the heavy obfuscation of web-based attacks complicate the job of the traditional protection systems such as Firewalls, Anti-virus solutions, and IDS systems. It has been witnessed that using ready-made toolkits, cyber-criminals can launch sophisticated attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and botnets to name a few. In recent years, cyber-criminals have targeted legitimate websites and social networks to inject malicious scripts that compromise the security of the visitors of such websites. This involves performing actions using the victim browser without his/her permission. This poses the need to develop effective mechanisms for protecting against Web 2.0 attacks that mainly target the end-user. In this paper, we address the above challenges from information flow control perspective by developing a framework that restricts the flow of information on the client-side to legitimate channels. The proposed model tracks sensitive information flow and prevents information leakage from happening. The proposed model when applied to the context of client-side web-based attacks is expected to provide a more secure browsing environment for the end-user.

2014-09-17
Biswas, Trisha, Lesser, Kendra, Dutta, Rudra, Oishi, Meeko.  2014.  Examining Reliability of Wireless Multihop Network Routing with Linear Systems. Proceedings of the 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :19:1–19:2.

In this study, we present a control theoretic technique to model routing in wireless multihop networks. We model ad hoc wireless networks as stochastic dynamical systems where, as a base case, a centralized controller pre-computes optimal paths to the destination. The usefulness of this approach lies in the fact that it can help obtain bounds on reliability of end-to-end packet transmissions. We compare this approach with the reliability achieved by some of the widely used routing techniques in multihop networks.