Project-Team Celtique

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Section: New Results

Secure the Clones: Static Enforcement of Policies for Secure Object Copying

Participants : Thomas Jensen, Florent Kirchner, David Pichardie.

Exchanging mutable data objects with untrusted code is a delicate matter because of the risk of creating a data space that is accessible by an attacker. Consequently, secure programming guidelines for Java stress the importance of using defensive copying before accepting or handing out references to an internal mutable object.

However, implementation of a copy method (like clone()) is entirely left to the programmer. It may not provide a sufficiently deep copy of an object and is subject to overriding by a malicious sub-class. Currently no language-based mechanism supports secure object cloning.

We propose a type-based annotation system for defining modular copy policies for class-based object-oriented programs. A copy policy specifies the maximally allowed sharing between an object and its clone. We provide a static enforcement mechanism that will guarantee that all classes fulfill their copy policy, even in the presence of overriding of copy methods, and establish the semantic correctness of the overall approach in Coq.

The mechanism has been implemented and experimentally evaluated on clone methods from several Java libraries. The work as been presented at ESOPĀ [18] this year and is under reviewing for a journal special issue.