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Dimitris Simos @ Institute for Software Technology, Graz University of Technology

June 20, 2016
All day

Dimitris Simos is invited to Graz University of Technology on 20 June 2016 to give a colloquium talk at the Institute for Software Technology in Graz.

Title: Combinatorial Methods for Quality Assurance of Secure Software: Recent Results and Challenges Ahead

Abstract: The recent revelations of the NSA’s BULLRUN and PRISM projects, highlight the great need to ensure an attack-free environment of software implementations. The latter task is not to be considered an easy process especially bearing in mind that software testing may consume up to half of the overall software development cost. Unfortunately, there are relatively few good methods for evaluation test set quality after ensuring basic requirements traceability. Towards that end, a number of combinatorial strategies have been devised that can maximize the probability of detecting faults, with combinatorial testing being the most prominent one. Combinatorial testing has been successfully applied for testing (critical) software systems in large organizations and is an already proven method for providing quality assurance of secure software.

In this talk, we will consider a number of research problems and challenges coming from security testing that seek solutions (also) from combinatorial mathematics. In particular, the talk will evolve around:

  • The problem of measuring the combinatorial coverage of existing test data. This metric is based on measuring the combinations covered by different input parameters of the system under test. The problem is exemplified in the case of security protocols where new (general) methods for estimating the combinatorial coverage will also be presented.
  • The problem of efficient test generation when software or hardware defects that can trigger security vulnerabilities depend on a small number of parameters is in general NP-hard.  Therefore, seeking theoretical and algorithmic solutions to this problem from the field of discrete mathematics is a challenging task. We will also demonstrate that combinatorial testing can provide the means for constructing large test suites needed for triggering FPGA cryptographic Trojans.
  • The challenge of deriving accurate models of software systems and designing efficient security testing methods considerably reducing the amount of resources needed—with mathematical levels of trustworthiness in the evaluation results. We will present recent advances on web application security testing.

The talk is concluded with some open research problems and directions for future research on prioritized combinatorial testing (in conjunction with combinatorial optimization techniques) and fault localization via discrete mathematical methods. These directions, if successful, can be applied ad-hoc as a general toolset in different applications domains, asides information security, e.g. in the case of automotive testing.