Team Comète

Overall Objectives
Scientific Foundations
Application Domains
New Results
Other Grants and Activities

Section: Overall Objectives


Our times are characterized by the massive presence of highly distributed and mobile systems consisting of diverse and specialized devices, forming heterogeneous networks, and providing different services and applications. The resulting computational systems are usually referred to as Ubiquitous Computing , (see, e.g., the UK Grand Challenge initiative under the name Sciences for Global Ubiquitous Computing [46] ). Security is one of the fundamental concerns that arises in this setting. The problem of privacy , in particular, is exacerbated by orders of magnitude: The frequent interaction between users and electronic devices, and the continuous connection between these devices and the internet, offer to malicious agents the opportunity to gather and store huge amount of information, often without the individual being even aware of it. Mobility is also an additional source of vulnerability, since tracing may reveal significant information. To avoid these hazards, honest agents should use special protocols, called security protocols .

These systems are usually very complex and based on impressive engineering technologies, but they do not always exhibit a satisfactory level of robustness and reliability. The same holds for protocols: they usually look simple, but the properties that they are supposed to ensure are extremely subtle, and it is also difficult to capture the capabilities of the attacker. As a consequence, even protocols that seem at first “obviously correct” are later (often years later) found to be prone to attacks.

In order to overcome these drawbacks, computer scientists need to develop formalisms, reasoning techniques, and tools, to specify systems and protocols, their intended properties, and to guarantee that these intended properties are indeed satisfied. The challenges that we envisage are (a) to find suitably expressive formalisms which capture essential new features such as mobility, probabilistic behavior, presence of uncertain information, and potentially hostile environment, (b) to build suitably representative models in which to interpret these formalisms, and (c) to design efficient tools to perform the verification in presence of these new features.


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