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Adaptive Security: A Requirements-Driven Approach

Security is primarily concerned with protecting valuable assets from harms. Identifying and evaluating assets are therefore key activities in any security engineering process - from modeling threats and attacks, discovering existing vulnerabilities, to selecting appropriate countermeasures. However, despite their crucial role, assets are often neglected during the development of secure software systems. Indeed, many systems are designed with fixed security boundaries and assumptions, and without the possibility to adapt when assets change unexpectedly, new threats arise, or undiscovered vulnerabilities are revealed. To handle such changes, systems must be capable of dynamically enabling different security countermeasures. The proposed requirements-driven framework in this talk promotes assets as first-class entities in engineering secure software systems. An asset model is related to requirements, expressed through a goal model, and the objectives of an attacker, expressed through a threat model. These models are then used as input to build a causal network to analyze system security in different situations, and to enable, when necessary, a set of countermeasures to mitigate security threats. The causal network is conceived as a runtime entity that tracks relevant changes that may arise at runtime, and enables a new set of countermeasures. The framework is illustrated with the aid of two domain applications, mobile phone security and physical access control.