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A Calculus for Flow-Limited Authorization: Technical Report
Arden, Owen; Myers, Andrew C.
Real-world applications routinely make authorization decisions based on dynamic computation. Reasoning about dynamically computed authority is challenging. Integrity of the system might be compromised if attackers can improperly influence the authorizing computation. Confidentiality can also be compromised by authorization, since authorization decisions are often based on sensitive data such as membership lists and passwords. Previous formal models for authorization do not fully address the security implications of permitting trust relationships to change, which limits their ability to reason about authority that derives from dynamic computation. Our goal is a way to construct authorization mechanisms that do not violate confidentiality or integrity. We introduce the Flow-Limited Authorization Calculus (FLAC), which is both a simple, expressive model for reasoning about dynamic authorization and also a language for securely implementing various authorization mechanisms. FLAC is an extension of the Dependency Core Calculus, incorporating the Flow-Limited Authorization Model. FLAC provides strong end-to-end information security guarantees even for programs that incorporate and implement rich dynamic authorization mechanisms. These guarantees include noninterference and robust declassification, which prevent attackers from influencing information disclosures in unautho- rized ways. We prove these security properties formally for all FLAC programs and explore the expressiveness of FLAC with several examples.
authorization; information flow control; security; trust management; language-based security