Secure compilation of a multi-tier web language

Ioannis G. Baltopoulos, Andrew D. Gordon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Storing state in the client tier (in forms or cookies, for example) improves the efficiency of a web application, but it also renders the secrecy and integrity of stored data vulnerable to untrustworthy clients. We study this general problem in the context of the Links multi-tier programming language. Like other systems, Links stores unencrypted application data, including web continuations, on the client tier; hence, Links is open to attacks that expose secrets, and modify control flow and application data. We characterise these attacks as failures of the general principle that ecurity properties of multi-tier applications should follow from review of the source code (as opposed to the detailed study of the files compiled for each tier, for example). We eliminate these threats by augmenting the Links compiler to encrypt and authenticate any data stored on the client. We model this compilation strategy as a translation from a core fragment of the language to a concurrent lambda-calculus equipped with a formal representation of cryptography. To formalize source-level reasoning about Links programs, we define a type-and-effect system for our core language; our implementation can machine-check various integrity properties of the source code. By appeal to a recent system of refinement types for secure implementations, we show that our compilation strategy guarantees all the properties provable by our type-and-effect system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of TLDI'09: 2009 ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Types in Languages Design and Implementation, Savannah, GA, USA, January 24, 2009
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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