Section: Overall Objectives

Overall Objectives

Our times are characterized by the massive presence of highly distributed systems consisting of diverse and specialized devices, forming heterogeneous networks, and providing different services and applications. Revolutionary phenomena such as social networks and cloud computing are examples of such systems.

In Comète we study emerging concepts of this new era of computing. Security and privacy are some of the fundamental concerns that arise in this setting. In particular, in the modern digital world the problem of keeping information secret or confidential is exacerbated by orders of magnitude: the frequent interaction between users and electronic devices, and the continuous connection between these devices and the internet, offer malicious agents the opportunity to gather and store huge amount of information, often without the individual even being aware of it. Mobility is an additional source of vulnerability, since tracing may reveal significant information. To avoid these kinds of hazards, security protocols and various techniques for privacy protection have been designed. However, the properties that they are supposed to ensure are rather subtle, and, furthermore, it is difficult to foresee all possible expedients that a potential attacker may use. As a consequence, even protocols that seem at first “obviously correct” are later (often years later) found to be prone to attacks.

In addition to the security problems, the problems of correctness, robustness and reliability are made more challenging by the complexity of these systems, since they are highly concurrent and distributed. Despite being based on impressive engineering technologies, they are still prone to faulty behavior due to errors in the software design.

To overcome these drawbacks, we need to develop formalisms, reasoning techniques, and verification methods, to specify systems and protocols, their intended properties, and to guarantee that these intended properties of correctness and security are indeed satisfied.

In Comète we study formal computational frameworks for specifying these systems, theories for defining the desired properties of correctness and security and for reasoning about them, and methods and techniques for proving that a given system satisfies the intended properties.