Information-Flow Control for Database-backed Applications

Abstract

Securing database-backed applications requires tracking information across the 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. Previous work, 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. The 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 the monitor for Scala programs and demonstrate its effectiveness on four case studies.

Publication
In 4th IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy.