Explicit Secrecy: A Policy for Taint Tracking
Paper in proceeding, 2016

Taint tracking is a popular security mechanism for tracking data-flow dependencies, both in high-level languages and at the machine code level. But despite the many taint trackers in practical use, the question of what, exactly, tainting means-what security policy it embodies-remains largely unexplored. We propose explicit secrecy, a generic framework capturing the essence of explicit flows, i.e., the data flows tracked by tainting. The framework is semantic, generalizing previous syntactic approaches to formulating soundness criteria of tainting. We demonstrate the usefulness of the framework by instantiating it with both a simple high-level imperative language and an idealized RISC machine. To further understanding of what is achieved by taint tracking tools, both dynamic and static, we obtain soundness results with respect to explicit secrecy for the tainting engine cores of a collection of popular dynamic and static taint trackers.

Theory & Methods


Electrical & Electronic

Computer Science


Daniel Schoepe

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Computing Science (Chalmers)

Musard Balliu

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Technology (Chalmers)

B. C. Pierce

Andrei Sabelfeld

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Software Technology (Chalmers)

1st IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (Euro S&P), Saarbruecken, Germany, Mar 21-24, 2016

978-1-5090-1752-2 (ISBN)

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology


Basic sciences

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