STS: a Security Requirements Engineering methodology for socio-technical Systems

Paja, Elda (2014) STS: a Security Requirements Engineering methodology for socio-technical Systems. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Today’s software systems are situated within larger socio-technical systems, wherein they interact — by exchanging data and delegating tasks — with other technical components, humans, and organisations. The components (actors) of a socio-technical system are autonomous and loosely controllable. Therefore, when interacting, they may endanger security by, for example, disclosing confidential information, breaking the integrity of others’ data, and relying on untrusted third parties, among others. The design of a secure software system cannot disregard its collocation within a socio-technical context, where security is threatened not only by technical attacks, but also by social and organisational threats. This thesis proposes a tool-supported model-driven methodology, namely STS, for conducting security requirements engineering for socio-technical systems. In STS, security requirements are specified — using the STS-ml requirements modelling language — as social contracts that constrain the social interactions and the responsibilities of the actors in the socio-technical system. A particular feature of STS-ml is that it clearly distinguishes information from its representation — in terms of documents, and separates information flow from the permissions or prohibitions actors specify to others over their interactions. This separation allows STS-ml to support a rich set of security requirements. The requirements models of STS-ml have a formal semantics which enables automated reasoning for detecting possible conflicts among security requirements as well as conflicts between security requirements and actors’ business policies — how they intend to achieve their objectives. Importantly, automated reasoning techniques are proposed to calculate the impact of social threats on actors’ information and their objectives. Modelling and reasoning capabilities are supported by STS-Tool. The effectiveness of STS methodology in modelling, and ultimately specifying security requirements for various socio-technical systems, is validated with the help of case studies from different domains. We assess the scalability for the implementation of the conflict identification algorithms conducting a scalability study using data from one of the case studies. Finally, we report on the results from user-oriented empirical evaluations of the STS methodology, the STS-ml modelling language, and the STS-Tool. These studies have been conducted over the past three years starting from the initial proposal of the methodology, language, and tool, in order to improve them after each evaluation.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Information and Communication Technology
PhD Cycle:26
Subjects:Area 01 - Scienze matematiche e informatiche > INF/01 INFORMATICA
Funders:FP7 Grant number 257930 (Aniketos) e 256980 (NESSoS)
Repository Staff approval on:18 Aug 2014 09:05

Repository Staff Only: item control page