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An Epistemic Foundation for Authentication Logics

Speaker: Joseph Halpern

Abstract

While there have been many attempts, going back to BAN logic, to base reasoning about security protocols on epistemic notions, they have not been all that successful. Arguably, this has been due to the particular logics chosen. We present a simple logic based on the well-understood modal operators of knowledge, time, and probability, and show that it is able to handle issues that have often been swept under the rug by other approaches, while being flexible enough to capture all the higher-level security notions that appear in BAN logic. Moreover, while still assuming that the knowledge operator allows for unbounded computation, it can handle the fact that a computationally bounded agent cannot decrypt messages in a natural way, by distinguishing strings and message terms. We demonstrate that our logic can capture BAN logic notions by providing a translation of the BAN operators into our logic, capturing belief by a form of probabilistic knowledge. This represents joint work with Ron van der Meyden and Riccardo Pucella.

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