Software Specification and Attack Languages

Software Specification and Attack Languages

Mohammed Hussein (Queen’s University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-090-5.ch016
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General-purpose software specification languages are introduced to model software by providing a better understanding of their characteristics. Nevertheless, these languages may fail to model some nonfunctional requirements such as security and safety. The necessity for simplifying the specification of nonfunctional requirements led to the development of domain-specific languages (e.g., attack description languages). Attack languages are employed to specify intrusion detection related aspects like intrusion signatures, normal behavior, alert correlation, and so forth. They provide language constructs and libraries that simplify the specification of the aforementioned intrusion detection aspects. Attack languages are used heavily due to the rapid growth of computer intrusions. The current trend in software development is to develop the core functionalities of the software based on the requirements expressed in general-purpose software specification languages. Then, attack languages and other security mechanisms are used to deal with security requirements. However, using two sets of languages may result in several disadvantages such as redundant and conflicting requirements (e.g., usability vs. security). Moreover, incorporating security at the latter stages of a software life cycle is more difficult and time consuming. Many research works propose the unification and reconciliation of software engineering and security engineering in various directions. These research efforts aim to enable developers to use the current software engineering tools and techniques to specify security requirements. In this chapter, we present a study on the classification of software specification languages and discuss the current state of the art regarding attack languages. Specification languages are categorized based on their features and their main purposes. A detailed comparison among attack languages is provided. We show the example extensions of the two software specification languages to include some features of the attack languages. We believe that extending certain types of software specification languages to express security aspects like attack descriptions is a major step towards unifying software and security engineering.

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