Consistency and Repair for XML Write-Access Control Policies

Published in: 
The VLDB Journal
Loreto Bravo (Universidad de Concepcion, Chile), James Cheney (University of Edinburgh, UK), Irini Fundulaki (ICS-FORTH, Greece), Ricardo Segovia (Universidad de Concepcion, Chile)

To appear in VLDB Journal


XML access control policies involving updates may contain security flaws, here called inconsistencies, in which a forbidden operation may be simulated by performing a sequence of allowed operations. This article investigates the problem of deciding whether a policy is consistent, and if not, how its inconsistencies can be repaired. We consider total and partial policies expressed in terms of annotated schemas defining which operations are allowed or denied for the XML trees that are instances of the schema. We show that consistency is decidable in PTIME for such policies and that consistent partial policies can be extended to unique least-privilege consistent total policies. We also consider repair problems based on deleting privileges to restore consistency, show that finding minimal repairs is NPcomplete, and give heuristics for finding repairs. Finally,
we experimentally evaluate these algorithms in comparison with an exact approach based on answer-set programming.