Fable: A Language for Enforcing User-defined Security Policies

TitleFable: A Language for Enforcing User-defined Security Policies
Publication TypeConference Papers
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSwamy N, Corcoran BJ, Hicks MW
Conference NameIEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2008. SP 2008
Date Published2008/05/18/22
ISBN Number978-0-7695-3168-7
KeywordsAccess control, Automata, Collaborative work, Communication system security, Computer languages, computer security, Data security, enforcement policy, FABLE, Government, high-level security goals, information flow, Information security, Language-based security, programming languages, Programming profession, provenance, security automata, security labels, security of data, user-defined security policies, verified enforcement, Web programming language

This paper presents FABLE, a core formalism for a programming language in which programmers may specify security policies and reason that these policies are properly enforced. In FABLE, security policies can be expressed by associating security labels with the data or actions they protect. Programmers define the semantics of labels in a separate part of the program called the enforcement policy. FABLE prevents a policy from being circumvented by allowing labeled terms to be manipulated only within the enforcement policy; application code must treat labeled values abstractly. Together, these features facilitate straightforward proofs that programs implementing a particular policy achieve their high-level security goals. FABLE is flexible enough to implement a wide variety of security policies, including access control, information flow, provenance, and security automata. We have implemented FABLE as part of the LINKS web programming language; we call the resulting language SELlNKS. We report on our experience using SELlNKS to build two substantial applications, a wiki and an on-line store, equipped with a combination of access control and provenance policies. To our knowledge, no existing framework enables the enforcement of such a wide variety of security policies with an equally high level of assurance.