Section: Research Program


Generic proof techniques

Most automated tools for verifying security properties rely on techniques stemming from automated deduction. Often existing techniques do however not apply directly, or do not scale up due to state explosion problems. For instance, the use of Horn clause resolution techniques requires dedicated resolution methods [41] [44]. Another example is unification modulo equational theory, which is a key technique in several tools, e.g. [51]. Security protocols however require to consider particular equational theories that are not naturally studied in classical automated reasoning. Sometimes, even new concepts have been introduced. One example is the finite variant property [46], which is used in several tools, e.g., Akiss  [44], Maude-NPA [51] and Tamarin [54]. Another example is the notion of asymmetric unification [50] which is a variant of unification used in Maude-NPA to perform important syntactic pruning techniques of the search space, even when reasoning modulo an equational theory. For each of these topics we need to design efficient decision procedures for a variety of equational theories.

Dedicated procedures and tools

We design dedicated techniques for automated protocol verification. While existing techniques for security protocol verification are efficient and have reached maturity for verification of confidentiality and authentication properties (or more generally safety properties), our goal is to go beyond these properties and the standard attacker models, verifying the properties and attacker models identified in Section 3.1. This includes techniques that:

  • can analyse indistinguishability properties, including for instance anonymity and unlinkability properties, but also properties stated in simulation-based (also known as universally composable) frameworks, which express the security of a protocol as an ideal (correct by design) system;

  • take into account protocols that rely on a notion of mutable global state which does not arise in traditional protocols, but is essential when verifying tamper-resistant hardware devices, e.g., the RSA PKCS#11 standard, IBM's CCA and the trusted platform module (TPM);

  • consider attacker models for protocols relying on weak secrets that need to be copied or remembered by a human, such as multi-factor authentication.

These goals are beyond the scope of most current analysis tools and require both theoretical advances in the area of verification, as well as the design of new efficient verification tools.