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A Hierarchical Security Assessment Model for Object-Oriented Programs

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3 Author(s)
Bandar Alshammari ; Fac. of Sci. & Technol., Queensland Univ. of Technol., Brisbane, QLD, Australia ; Colin Fidge ; Diane Corney

We present a hierarchical model for assessing an object-oriented program's security. Security is quantified using structural properties of the program code to identify the ways in which `classified' data values may be transferred between objects. The model begins with a set of low-level security metrics based on traditional design characteristics of object-oriented classes, such as data encapsulation, cohesion and coupling. These metrics are then used to characterise higher-level properties concerning the overall readability and writ ability of classified data throughout the program. In turn, these metrics are then mapped to well-known security design principles such as `assigning the least privilege' and `reducing the size of the attack surface'. Finally, the entire program's security is summarised as a single security index value. These metrics allow different versions of the same program, or different programs intended to perform the same task, to be compared for their relative security at a number of different abstraction levels. The model is validated via an experiment involving five open source Java programs, using a static analysis tool we have developed to automatically extract the security metrics from compiled Java byte code.

Published in:

2011 11th International Conference on Quality Software

Date of Conference:

13-14 July 2011