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Maude-NPA and Formal Analysis of Cryptographic Protocols With Equational Theories

Speaker: Catherine Meadows


Formal analysis of cryptographic protocols has been one of the most successful applications of formal methods to security. It has played a prominent part in the development and validation of security standards, shown most recently by use of formal methods in the analysis of TLS 1.3 at the invitation of the TLS 1.3 developers. 

One long-standing problem in the analysis of cryptographic protocols is reasoning about cryptosystems that satisfy equational properties, such as Diffie-Hellman and exclusive-or. In these cases the equational properties are necessary both to understand potential vulnerabilities, and to correctly represent the actions of the protocol. However, such equational properties can be difficult to incorporate so that the analysis is both tractable and sound. This is especially the case when the properties include associative-commutative rules. The Maude-NRL Protocol Analyzer (Maude-NPA) is a tool that takes a systematic approach to reasoning about protocols that rely on such properties, and it has had a major influence on work in the field.

This course will consist of two parts: an introduction to formal cryptographic protocol analysis, with emphasis on reasoning about equational properties, and an in-depth presentation on the Maude-NPA cryptographic protocol analysis tool, showing the theoretical and heuristic approaches it applies to reasoning about equational properties. We will also discuss open problems in the area.