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Title: Analysing layered security protocols
Author: Gibson-Robinson, Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Many security protocols are built as the composition of an application-layer protocol and a secure transport protocol, such as TLS. There are many approaches to proving the correctness of such protocols. One popular approach is verification by abstraction, in which the correctness of the application-layer protocol is proven under the assumption that the transport layer satisfies certain properties, such as confidentiality. Following this approach, we adapt the strand spaces model in order to analyse application-layer protocols that depend on an underlying secure transport layer, including unilaterally authenticating secure transport protocols, such as unilateral TLS. Further, we develop proof rules that enable us to prove the correctness of application-layer protocols that use either unilateral or bilateral secure transport protocols. We then illustrate these rules by proving the correctness of WebAuth, a single-sign-on protocol that makes extensive use of unilateral TLS. In this thesis we also present a full proof of the model's soundness. In particular, we prove that, subject to a suitable independence assumption, if there is an attack against the application-layer protocol when layered on top of a particular secure transport protocol, then there is an attack against the abstracted model of the application-layer protocol. In contrast to existing work in this area, the independence assumption consists of eight statically-checkable conditions, meaning that it can be checked statically, rather than having to consider all possible runs of the protocol. Lastly, we extend the model to allow protocols that consist of an arbitrary number of layers to be proven correct. In this case, we prove the correctness of the intermediate layers using the high-level strand spaces model, by abstracting away from the underlying transport-layers. Further, we extend the above soundness results in order to prove that the multi-layer approach is sound. We illustrate the effectiveness of our technique by proving the correctness of a couple of simple multi-layer protocols.
Supervisor: Lowe, Gavin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computer security ; security protocols ; protocol layering ; strand spaces ; WebAuth