Formal Synthesis of Filter Components for Use in Security-Enhancing Architectural Transformations

D. Hardin, K. Slind

Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Language-Theoretic Security at the 2021 IEEE Computer Society Security and Privacy Symposium LangSec 2021, May 2021

Safety- and security-critical developers have long recognized the importance of applying a high degree of scrutiny to a system's (or subsystem's) I/O messages. However, lack of care in the development of message-handling components can lead to an increase, rather than a decrease, in the attack surface. On the DARPA Cyber-Assured Systems Engineering (CASE) program, we have focused our research effort on identifying cyber vulnerabilities early in system development, in particular at the Architecture development phase, and then automatically synthesizing components that mitigate against the identified vulnerabilities from high-level specifications. This approach is highly compatible with the goals of the LangSec community. Advances in formal methods have allowed us to produce hardware/software implementations that are both performant and guaranteed correct. With these tools, we can synthesize high-assurance "building blocks" that can be composed automatically with high confidence to create trustworthy systems, using a method we call Security-Enhancing Architectural Transformations. Our synthesis-focused approach provides a higherleverage insertion point for formal methods than is possible with post facto analytic methods, as the formal methods tools directly contribute to the implementation of the system, without requiring developers to become formal methods experts. Our techniques encompass Systems, Hardware, and Software Development, as well as Hardware/Software Co-Design/Co- Assurance. We illustrate our method and tools with an example that implements security-improving transformations on system architectures expressed using the Architecture Analysis and Design Language (AADL). We show how message-handling components can be synthesized from high-level regular or context-free language specifications, as well as a novel specification language for self-describing messages called Contiguity Types, and verified to meet arithmetic constraints extracted from the AADL model. Finally, we guarantee that the intent of the message processing logic is accurately reflected in the application binary code through the use of the verified CakeML compiler, in the case of software, or the Restricted Algorithmic C toolchain with ACL2-based formal verification, in the case of hardware/software co-design.