Data flow analysis of embedded program expressions

Doble, Christopher, Fidge, Colin J., & Corney, Diane (2012) Data flow analysis of embedded program expressions. In Pieprzyk, Josef & Thomborson, Clark (Eds.) Proceedings of the 10th Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC 2012), Australian Computer Society, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, pp. 71-82.

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Data flow analysis techniques can be used to help assess threats to data confidentiality and integrity in security critical program code. However, a fundamental weakness of static analysis techniques is that they overestimate the ways in which data may propagate at run time. Discounting large numbers of these false-positive data flow paths wastes an information security evaluator's time and effort. Here we show how to automatically eliminate some false-positive data flow paths by precisely modelling how classified data is blocked by certain expressions in embedded C code. We present a library of detailed data flow models of individual expression elements and an algorithm for introducing these components into conventional data flow graphs. The resulting models can be used to accurately trace byte-level or even bit-level data flow through expressions that are normally treated as atomic. This allows us to identify expressions that safely downgrade their classified inputs and thereby eliminate false-positive data flow paths from the security evaluation process. To validate the approach we have implemented and tested it in an existing data flow analysis toolkit.

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ID Code: 47262
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Security-critical software, Data flow analysis, Taint analysis, Embedded programs, Downgrading
ISBN: 978-1-921770-06-7
ISSN: 1445-1336
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > COMPUTER SOFTWARE (080300) > Computer System Security (080303)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Institutes > Information Security Institute
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Australian Computer Society
Copyright Statement: Copyright 2012, Australian Computer Society, Inc. This pa- per appeared at the Tenth Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC2012), Melbourne, Australia, 30th January– 2nd February 2012. Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT), Vol. 125, J. Pieprzyk and C. Thomborson, Ed. Reproduction for academic, not-for-profit purposes permitted provided this text is included.
Deposited On: 24 Nov 2011 21:57
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:44

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