Information Flow for Secure Distributed Applications

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“Information Flow for Secure Distributed Applications” by Winnie Wing-Yee Cheng. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT, (Cambridge, MA, USA), Aug. 2009. Also as Technical Report MIT-CSAIL-TR-2009-040.


Private and confidential information is increasingly stored online and increasingly being exposed due to human errors as well as malicious attacks. Information leaks threaten confidentiality, lead to lawsuits, damage enterprise reputations, and cost billion of dollars. While distributed computing architectures provide data and service integration, they also create information flow control problems due to the interaction complexity among service providers. A main problem is the lack of an appropriate programming model to capture expected information flow behaviors in these large distributed software infrastructures. This research tackles this problem by proposing a programming methodology and enforcement platform for application developers to protect and share their sensitive data.

We introduce Aeolus, a new platform intended to make it easier to build distributed applications that avoid the unauthorized release of information. The Aeolus security model is based on information flow control but differs from previous work in ways that we believe make it easier to use and understand. In addition, Aeolus provides a number of new mechanisms (anonymous closures, compound tags, boxes, and shared volatile state) to ease the job of writing applications. This thesis provides examples to show how Aeolus features support secure distributed applications. It describes the system design issues and solutions in designing a prototype implementation and presents performance results that show our platform has low overhead.

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BibTeX entry:

   author = {Winnie Wing-Yee Cheng},
   title = {Information Flow for Secure Distributed Applications},
   school = {MIT},
   type = {{Ph.D.}},
   address = {Cambridge, MA, USA},
   month = aug,
   year = {2009},
   note = {Also as Technical Report {MIT-CSAIL-TR-2009-040}}

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