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Capability Machines: The Foundation of Secure Compilation and the Future of Computer Security

PhD defence, Thursday 14 November 2019. Lau Skorstengaard.

2019.11.14 | Sunitha Satkunam

Lau Skorstengaard

Most computer programs are written in high-level programming languages that abstract away hardware specific details.  Computers do not understand  high-level languages which is why programs are translated to low-level programs that the computer understand. Translation often leads to abstraction failures which is a big source of security vulnerabilities, and modern computers do not have the necessary security primitives to ensure the abstractions after compilation. A capability machine is a computer with additional security primitives in the form of capabilities a built-in unforgeable permission to access resources on the computer. The added security primitives make capability machines an ideal target for abstraction preserving compilation.

During his PhD studies, cand.scient. Lau Skorstengaard has researched how abstractions in high-level programs can be enforced after compilation on capability machines as well as how one proves that the abstractions are preserved. This has resulted in actual ways of enforcing abstractions, new models for capability machines, and new techniques for proving correctness of abstraction preserving compilations. The reseach results contribute to our understanding of secure compilation of programs and are part of the foundation of a rapidly growing research area.

The PhD degree was completed at the Department of Computer Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Thursday 14 November 2019 at 13:00
Place: Building 5342, room 333, ADA-333, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, Åbogade 34, 8200 Aarhus N
Title of PhD thesis: Formal Reasoning about Capability Machines
Contact information: Lau Skorstengaard, e-mail: lau@cs.au.dk
Members of the assessment committee:
Professor Deepak Garg, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Saarland Informatics Campus (SIC), Germany
Professor Peter Sewell, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Professor Anders Møller, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University
Supervisor:
Professor Lars Birkedal, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University
Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
12183 / i43