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posted 20 Sep, 2023

OWL: Compositional Verification of Security Protocols via an Information-Flow Type System; 2023

author Joshua Gancher; Sydney Gibson; Pratap Singh; Samvid Dharanikota; Bryan Parno
title OWL: Compositional Verification of Security Protocols via an Information-Flow Type System
howpublished 2023 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP)
year 2023
month May
where Carnegie Mellon University

This paper is part of the ongoing effort toward language- and type-based cryptographic security. One distinguishing feature of OWL, according to the authors, is that OWL uses the “computational model”, i.e. everything is done at the level of bits and adversaries are arbitrary poly-time Turing machines. I find that odd, as most such papers I’m aware of use the use a similar model, but it’s true that the poly-time aspect isn’t always in focus. Anyway, OWL is strongly typed, and these types carry the burden of proof. The actual guarentee you get is:

OwlLang guarantees that well-typed protocols satisfy simulatability and correctness. Simulatability states that, for any adversary A corrupting a chosen set of names, running the protocol cannot leak any more information to A than it had before the protocol’s execution. Dually, correctness states that all refinements on data in the protocol hold with high probability.

Reading deeper, their “correctness” is not MPC correctness, but rather an “almost always” version of normal type-safety.

Simulatabilty is harder to pin down. It’s game-based, and sounds like MPC security, but I’m moderately certain that Owl cannot do MPC.

More specifically what the type system does is basically just information-flow augmented by modular composable cryptographic primitives such as {en|de}cryption, hashing, and DHKE. The only actual data the implied simulator Sλ (definition 5) gets is N : Name→{0,1}*. N is a “name environment” mapping base names to their values; it’s an argument to the semantics game and a constant within it. (Note that the defining equation b=b’ is probabilistic over the sampling of N from the interpretation via Gen.) Of course the simulator can’t use all of N; the rules of Orcl mask off uncorrupted names, but the point is that Sλ doesn’t have access to the results of anything they way it would in MPC. In the proof overview of Theorem 1 (and AFAICT this is confirmed in appendix C of the big version of the paper), they explain that security follows from applying reductions from Real crypto primitives to Ideal ones, and then applying information-flow control. In particular see the first column of page 20: The simulator is just running the protocol (K is a list of expressions (which are programs), one for each party), substituting fresh random values for anything in N it can’t see. If they were doing MPC, they would need to ensure the substitutions were consistent with some final output.

(Aside for anyone following along: There’s a typo in the game in Fig 10. Line 6 should be (...) <$- [[ K[j] ]]^N ...; this is where the _K_onfiguration gets used.)