Security-Policy Analysis with eXtended Unix Tools

Weaver, G.

Ph.D. Dissertation. Dartmouth College Department of Computer Science Technical Report TR2013-728, March 2013.

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We designed and built our eXtended Unix tools (XUTools) to address these limitations of security policy analysis. First, our XUTools operate upon context-free languages so that they can operate upon the hierarchical object models of high-level policy languages. Second, our XUTools operate on parse trees so that practitioners can process and analyze texts at multiple levels of abstraction. Finally, our XUTools enable new computational experiments on multi-versioned structured texts and our tools allow practitioners to measure security policies and how they change over time. Just as programmers use high-level languages to program more efficiently, so can practitioners use these tools to analyze texts relative to a high-level language.

Throughout the historical transmission of text, people have identified meaningful substrings of text and categorized them into groups such as sentences, pages, lines, function blocks, and books to name a few. Our research interprets these useful structures as different context-free languages by which we can analyze text. XUTools are already in demand by practitioners in a variety of domains and articles on our research have been featured in various news outlets that include ComputerWorld, CIO Magazine, Communications of the ACM, and Slashdot.

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