Monitoring local progress with watchdog timers deduced from global properties
Conference contribution, 2010
Distributed systems are used in numerous applications where failures can be costly. Due to concerns that some of the nodes may become faulty, critical services are usually replicated across several nodes, which execute distributed algorithms to ensure correct service in spite of failures. To prevent replica-exhaustion, it is fundamental to detect errors and trigger appropriate recovery actions. In particular, it is important to detect situations in which nodes cease to execute the intended algorithm, e.g., when a replica is compromised by an attacker or when a hardware fault causes the node to behave erratically. This paper proposes a method for monitoring the local execution of nodes using watchdog timers. The approach consists in deducing, from the global system properties, local states that must be visited periodically by nodes that execute the intended algorithm correctly. When a node fails to trigger a watchdog before the time limit, an appropriate response can be initiated. The approach is applied to a well-known Byzantine consensus algorithm. The algorithm is modeled in the PROMELA language and the SPIN model checker is used to identify local states that must be visited periodically by correct nodes. Such states are suitable for online monitoring using watchdog timers.