Virgil D Gligor

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Maryland

June 5, 2007 Security and Wireless Sensor Networking Symposium

On the Evolution of Adversary Models in Security Protocols – from the Beginning to Sensor Networks


Invariably, new technologies introduce new vulnerabilities which often enable new attacks by increasingly potent adversaries. Yet new systems are more adept at handling well-known attacks by old adversaries than anticipating new ones. Our adversary models seem to be perpetually out of date: often they do not capture adversary attacks and sometimes they address attacks rendered impractical by new technologies.

In this talk, I provide a brief overview of adversary models beginning with those required by program and data sharing technologies (’60-’70s), continuing with those required by computer communication and networking technologies (’70s-’90s), and ending with those required by and sensor network technologies (’00s ->). I argue that sensor, ad-hoc, and mesh networks require new models, different from those in common use, namely those of the Dolev-Yao and Byzantine adversaries. I illustrate this with adversaries that attack perfectly sensible and otherwise correct protocols of sensor networks. These attacks cannot be countered with traditional security protocols using end-to-end design arguments and require emergent security properties as countermeasures.

Virgil D. Gligor received his B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been at the University of Maryland since 1976, and is currently a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Over the past three decades, his research interests ranged from access control mechanisms, penetration analysis, and denial-of-service protection to cryptographic protocols and applied cryptography. He was a consultant to Burroughs (1977-1981) and IBM (1984-1999) Corporations, and is currently serving on Microsoft’s Trusted Computing Academic Advisory Board (2003-present). He served the profession as the chair or co-chair of several international conferences and symposia including IEEE Security and Privacy Symposium, Internet Society’s Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium, IEEE Dependable Computing for Critical Applications, and IEEE-ACM Symposium on Reliability in Distributed Software and Databases. He was a member of several US Government INFOSEC Study Groups that set research agendas in information security, and served on a National Research Council panel on information security (1987-1988). Gligor is an Editorial Board member the ACM Transactions on Information System Security, IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, IEEE Transaction on Mobile Computing and IEEE Transactions on Computers. In 2005, Gligor was elected chair of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control, and received the National Information Systems Security Award given by NIST and NSA in the US.

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