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Techniques for Application-Aware Suitability Analysis of Access Control Systems

Garrison, William C. (2016) Techniques for Application-Aware Suitability Analysis of Access Control Systems. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Access control, the process of selectively restricting access to a set of resources, is so fundamental to computer security that it has been called the field's traditional center of gravity. As such, a wide variety of systems have been proposed for representing, managing, and enforcing access control policies. Prior work on evaluating access control systems has primarily relied on relative expressiveness analysis, which proves that one system has greater capabilities than another. Although expressiveness is a meaningful basis for comparing access control systems, it does not consider the application in which the system will be deployed. Furthermore, expressiveness is not necessarily a useful way to rank systems; if two systems are expressive enough for a given application, little benefit is derived from choosing the one that has greater expressiveness. On the contrary, many of the concerns that arise when choosing an access control system can be negatively impacted by additional expressiveness: a system that is too complex is often harder to specify policies in, less efficient, or harder to reason about from the perspective of security guarantees.

To address these shortcomings, we propose the access control suitability analysis problem, and present a series of techniques for solving it. Suitability analysis evaluates access control systems against the specific demands of the application within which they will be used, and considers a wide range of both expressiveness and ordered cost metrics. To conduct suitability analysis, we present a two-phase framework consisting of formal reductions for proving qualitative suitability and simulation techniques for evaluating quantitative suitability. In support of this framework we present a fine-grained lattice of reduction properties, as well as Portuno, a flexible simulation engine for conducting cost analysis of access control systems. We evaluate our framework formally, by proving that it satisfies a series of technical requirements, and practically, by presenting several case studies demonstrating its use in conducting analysis in realistic scenarios.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Garrison, William C.bill@cs.pitt.eduWCG6
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLee, Adam J.adamlee@cs.pitt.eduADAMLEE
Committee MemberChrysanthis, Panos K.panos@cs.pitt.eduPANOS
Committee MemberZnati, Taiebznati@cs.pitt.eduZNATI
Committee MemberZuck, Lenore
Date: 19 January 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 November 2015
Approval Date: 19 January 2016
Submission Date: 23 November 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 299
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Computer Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Access control, suitability analysis, evaluation, security
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2016 17:55
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:31


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