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Shedding light on haunted corners of information security

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Ryan


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Characterising the fundamental concepts of information security, such as confidentiality and authentication, has proved problematic from the outset and remains controversial to this day. Non-interference was proposed some 25 years ago to give a precise, formal characterisation of the absence of information flows through a system, motivated in large part by the discovery of covert channels in access control models such as Bell-LaPadula. Intuitively, it asserts that altering Highs interactions with a system should not result in any observable difference in Lows interactions with the system. Superficially it appears to be a very natural and compelling concept but it turns out to harbor some surprising subtleties. Over the years various models of computation have been used to formalise non-interference. Typically these floundered on non-determinism, "input/output" distinctions, input totality and so forth. In the late 80's and early 90's, process algebras, in particular CSP, were applied to information security. In this talk I will briefly overview this approach and discuss how the concepts and results from process algebra shed light on these haunted corners of non-interference, including the role of non-determinism, unwinding results, composition, refinement and input/output distinctions. In particular, we argue that the absence of information flow can be characterised in terms of process equivalence, itself a delicate and fundamental concept. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ryan P

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Communicating Sequential Processes. The First 25 Years. Symposium on the Occasion of 25 Years of CSP

Year of Conference: 2005

Pages: 264

ISSN: 0302-9743

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/11423348_15

Notes: book doi: 10.1007/b136154

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Series Title: Lecture Notes in Computer Science

ISBN: 9783540258131