Guiding a general-purpose C verifier to prove cryptographic protocols

François Dupressoir, Andrew Gordon, Jan Jürjens, David A. Naumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe how to verify security properties of C code for cryptographic protocols by using a general-purpose verifier. We prove security theorems in the symbolic model of cryptography. Our techniques include: use of ghost state to attach formal algebraic terms to concrete byte arrays and to detect collisions when two distinct terms map to the same byte array; decoration of a crypto API with contracts based on symbolic terms; and expression of the attacker model in terms of C programs. We rely on the general-purpose verifier VCC; we guide VCC to prove security simply by writing suitable header files and annotations in implementation files, rather than by changing VCC itself. We formalize the symbolic model in Coq in order to justify the addition of axioms to VCC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-866
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Computer Security
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Guiding a general-purpose C verifier to prove cryptographic protocols'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this