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TESLA: Temporally-enhanced security logic assertions

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Abstract: The security of complex software such as operating system kernels depends on properties that we (currently) cannot prove correct. We can validate some of these properties with assertions and testing, but temporal properties such as access control and locking protocols are beyond the reach of contemporary tools. TESLA is a compiler-based tool that helps programmers describe and understand the temporal behaviour of low-level systems code. Using temporal assertions (inspired by linear temporal logic), developers can specify security properties and validate them at run-time. We have used TESLA to validate OpenSSL API use, find security-related bugs in the FreeBSD kernel and to explore complex rendering bugs that were impervious to existing debugging tools.

Bio: Jonathan Anderson is a postdoctoral researcher in the security group here at the CL. He works on tools that support application and OS security as part of the CTSRD project. His PhD work (also at Cambridge) explored the intersection of privacy and operating systems concepts in the context of online social network.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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