Information-flow control for database-backed applications
Paper in proceedings, 2019
Securing database-backed applications requires tracking information across the application program and the database together, since securing each component in isolation may still result in an overall insecure system. Current research extends language-based techniques with models capturing the database's behavior. This research, however, relies on simplistic database models, which ignore security-relevant features that may leak sensitive information. We propose a novel security monitor for database-backed applications. Our monitor tracks fine-grained dependencies between variables and database tuples by leveraging database theory concepts like disclosure lattices and query determinacy. It also accounts for a realistic database model that supports security-critical constructs like triggers and dynamic policies. The monitor automatically synthesizes program-level code that replicates the behavior of database features like triggers, thereby tracking information flows inside the database. We also introduce symbolic tuples, an efficient approximation of dependency-tracking over disclosure lattices. We implement our monitor for Scala programs and demonstrate its effectiveness on four case studies.
Database backed applications
Information flow control