DKAL*: Constructing Executable Specifications of Authorization Protocols

  • Jean-Baptiste Jeannin ,
  • Guido de Caso ,
  • Juan Chen ,
  • Yuri Gurevich ,
  • Prasad Naldurg ,

MSR-TR-2012-24 |

International Symposium on Engineering Secure Software and Systems (ESSOS 13)

View Publication

Many prior trust management frameworks provide authorization logics for specifying policies based on distributed trust. However, to implement a security protocol using these frameworks, one usually resorts to a general-purpose programming language. When reasoning about the security of the entire system, one must study not only policies in the authorization logic but also hard-to-analyze implementation code.

This paper proposes DKAL*, a language for constructing executable specifications of authorization protocols. Protocol and policy designers can use DKAL*’s authorization logic for expressing distributed trust relationships, and its small rule-based programming language to describe the message sequence of a protocol. Importantly, many low-level details of the protocol (e.g., marshaling formats or management of state consistency) are left abstract in DKAL*, but sufficient details must be provided in order for the protocol to be executable.

We formalize the semantics of DKAL*, giving it both an operational semantics and a type system. We prove various properties of DKAL*, including type soundness and a decidability property for its underlying logic. We also present an interpreter for DKAL*, mechanically verified for correctness and security. We evaluate our work experimentally on several examples. Using our semantics, DKAL* programs can be analyzed for various protocol-specific properties of interest. Using our interpreter, programmers obtain an executable version of their protocol which can readily be tested and then deployed.