LWeb: Information Flow Security for Multi-Tier Web Applications. James Parker, Niki Vazou, and Michael Hicks. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL), January 2019.

This paper presents LWeb, a framework for enforcing label-based, information flow policies in database-using web applications. In a nutshell, LWeb marries the LIO Haskell IFC enforcement library with the Yesod web programming framework. The implementation has two parts. First, we extract the core of LIO into a monad transformer (LMonad) and then apply it to Yesod's core monad. Second, we extend Yesod's table definition DSL and query functionality to permit defining and enforcing label-based policies on tables and enforcing them during query processing. LWeb's policy language is expressive, permitting dynamic per-table and per-row policies. We formalize the essence of LWeb in the LWebcalc calculus and mechanize the proof of noninterference in Liquid Haskell. This mechanization constitutes the first metatheoretic proof carried out in Liquid Haskell. We also used LWeb to build a substantial web site hosting the Build it, Break it, Fix it security-oriented programming contest. The site involves 40 data tables and sophisticated policies. Compared to manually checking security policies, LWeb imposes a modest runtime overhead of between 2% to 21%. It reduces the trusted code base from the whole application to just 1% of the application code, and 21% of the code overall (when counting LWeb too).

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@INPROCEEDINGS{parker19lweb,
  AUTHOR = {James Parker and Niki Vazou and Michael Hicks},
  TITLE = {{LWeb}: Information Flow Security for Multi-Tier Web Applications},
  BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of the {ACM} Conference on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL)},
  YEAR = {2019},
  MONTH = JAN
}

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