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Mathematical Models of Computer Security

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Ryan


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In this chapter I present a process algebraic approach to the modelling of security properties and policies. I will concentrate on the concept of secrecy, also known as confidentiality, and in particular on the notion of non-interference. Non-interference seeks to characterise the absence of information flows through a system and, as such, is a fundamental concept in information security.A central thesis of these lectures is that, viewed from a process algebraic point of view, the problem of characterising non-interference is essentially equivalent to that of characterising the equivalence of processes. The latter is itself a fundamental and delicate question at the heart of process algebra and indeed theoretical computer science: the semantics of a process is intimately linked to the question of which processes should be regarded as equivalent.We start, by way of motivation and to set the context, with a brief historical background. A much fuller exposition of security policies in the wider sense, embracing properties other than secrecy, can be found in the chapter by Pierangela Samarati in this volume. We then cover some elements of process algebra, in particular CSP (Communicating Sequential Processes), that we need and present a formulation of noninterference, along with some more operational presentations of process algebra, including the idea of bi-simulation. I argue that the classical notion of unwinding found in the security literature is really just bisimulation in another guise.Finally, I propose some generalisations of the process algebraic formulations designed to encompass a richer class of policies and examples.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ryan PYA

Editor(s): Focardi, R., Gorrieri, R.

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Foundations of Security Analysis and Design: Tutorial Lectures

Year: 2001

Volume: 2171

Pages: 1-62

Series Title: Lecture Notes in Computer Science

Publisher: Springer-Verlag

Place Published: Berlin; New York


DOI: 10.1007/3-540-45608-2_1

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783540428961