24/10/2017 – Talk by Amit Mandal

Title: A Novel Meta-Information Management System for SaaS
Time: 12:15
Location: Meeting room, Ed. Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Amit Mandal
Abstract: Efficient hosting and provisioning of cloud based software services are complex engineering task with the increasing and heterogeneous SaaS resources. In this context, SaaS resource includes services, business processes, data sources, etc. This demands an efficient categorization and cataloguing mechanism. It can be achieved by exploring and managing the meta-information of various SaaS resources. However, meta-information management system of SaaS should ensure: (i) collection of relevant meta-information about the interrelated services, business processes, and data sources; (ii) easy accessibility and (iii) incremental update. Further, it should capable of tracing the correspondence among different SaaS resources across the cloud. To address these issues we proposed a flexible and scalable meta-information management system for SaaS. It comprises of meta-information crawler, indexer, uploader, and storage system. The crawler collects meta-information from various repositories. On next, the crawled meta-information is uploaded to the Hadoop system using a multidimensional indexing system. Further, to ensure efficient management, easy update, faster storing and retrieval of meta-information a series of experiments have been carried out. The experimental results show that the proposed mechanism can efficiently scale and it can effectively categorise and catalogue different SaaS resources.

17/10/2017 – Talk by Giuseppe Maggiore

Title: GrandeOmega, a smart e-learning platform
Time: 14:00
Location: Meeting room, Ed. Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Giuseppe Maggiore
Abstract: Teaching programming and mathematics presents a challenge: learning such disciplines requires, at the same time, a heavy does of both theory and practice. Theory provides the overview, the rules, and the fundamental way the discipline is set up. Practice offers context and motivation for the theory, and its repetition breeds familiarity and deeper understanding.

Moreover, while teachers strive towards sharing the beauty and elegance of abstract concepts, students often wish to learn “useful” concepts that have a real-world application, and to experiment with it. Unfortunately, this becomes a chicken-and-egg problem: too much practice overshadows proper learning of the underlying theory, and too much theory demotivates students.

In this talk, we present GrandeOmega, a tool that facilitates the teaching of the formal application of programming languages and similar formalisms in an active, engaging, practical way.

11/10/2017 – Talk by Stefano Calzavara

Title: CCSP: Controlled relaxation of content security policies by runtime policy composition
Time: 12:00 (noon)
Location: ACADIA Lab., Ed. Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Stefano Calzavara
Abstract: Content Security Policy (CSP) is a W3C standard designed to prevent and mitigate the impact of content injection vulnerabilities on websites by means of browser-enforced security policies. Though CSP is gaining a lot of popularity in the wild, previous research questioned one of its key design choices, namely the use of static white-lists to define legitimate content inclusions. In this talk we present Compositional CSP (CCSP), an extension of CSP based on runtime policy composition. CCSP is designed to overcome the limitations arising from the use of static white-lists, while avoiding a major overhaul of CSP and the logic underlying policy writing. We perform an extensive evaluation of the design of CCSP by focusing on the general security guarantees it provides, its backward compatibility and its deployment cost. We then assess the potential impact of CCSP on the web and we implement a prototype of our proposal, which we test on major websites. In the end, we conclude that the deployment of CCSP can be done with limited efforts and would lead to significant benefits for the large majority of the websites.

CISPA – Meeting 10/10/2017, 10:30


When: Tuesday 10 October, at 10:30 in the morning
Where: Università Ca’ Foscari, Via Torino, 155 – 30170 Venezia Mestre Sala Conferenze del campus scientifico

First seminar:
Speaker: Dr. Giancarlo Pellegrino, Research Group Leader at CISPA
Title: Automated Vulnerability Analysis for Modern Application Software
Abstract:The complexity and pervasiveness of application software are growing rapidly. Nowadays, application software encompasses multiple devices, e.g., mobile and IoT,  and web services to perform operations ranging from online shopping and managing household appliances to controlling manufacturing processes. Like any other programs, application software has vulnerabilities that, when exploited,  can be used for financial fraud, stealing confidential data, and industrial espionage. Unfortunately, existing automated vulnerability analysis techniques are inadequate to tackle the complexity reached by these programs, thus leaving them exposed to attackers. My main research topic intends to stop this emerging trend and lay the foundation for the next-generation automated vulnerability analysis techniques. This talk focuses on the detection power and attack surface coverage challenges and presents two recent advances in the field. The first part of the talk presents Deemon, a tool that combines dynamic analysis and property graphs to mine Cross-Site Request Forgery, a long-neglected severe vulnerability. The second part of the talk presents jAEk, a new generation web application crawler that uses JavaScript dynamic analysis to increase the covered attack surface of web applications by 80%.
Short bio: Giancarlo Pellegrino is currently a research group leader at CISPA. His main research interests include all aspects of application security especially web security and automated vulnerability analysis. He has been selected for the CISPA-Stanford Center for Cybersecurity, and he will be soon appointed to a visiting assistant professor at Stanford University. Prior to that, Giancarlo was a postdoctoral researcher at CISPA and TU Darmstadt, Germany. During his doctoral stud- ies, Giancarlo was a member of the S3 group at EURECOM, in France, under the supervision of Prof. Davide Balzarotti. Until August 2013, he was a researcher associate in the “Security and Trust” research group at SAP SE.
Contact: gpellegrino@cispa.saarland

Second seminar:

Speaker: Sandra Strohbach, Dr. Giancarlo Pellegrino
Title: CISPA – One of Europe’s leading research sites of IT security
Abstract: The public presentation offers an overview of the Center for IT security, Privacy, and Accountability – CISPA located on the Saarland Informatics Campus in Saarbrücken, Germany. Founded in 2011, CISPA has become an important address of IT security and privacy.
You can learn more about the different research areas, excellent education programmes, and career opportunities. The examples of current research projects provide an insight into our daily work.
Short bio:  After her studies in translation science, Sandra Strohbach did her PhD in applied linguistics at Saarland University. At the same time, she worked as research assistant and lecturer in the department of Romanic languages. Since 2010, Sandra Strohbach has worked in the field of science management. She is an expert in the field of funding programmes and international cooperation as well as strategic development. She joined CISPA in 2017 and coordinates na- tional and international projects, among them the CISPA-Stanford Center for Cybersecurity.

Contact: strohbach@cispa.saarland



One of Europe’s leading research sites for IT security

When: Tuesday 10 October, at 12.30 in the afternoon
Where: Università Ca’ Foscari, Via Torino, 155 – 30170 Venezia Mestre Sala Conferenze del campus scientifico

What to expect:

  • Insight into the CISPA goals
  • High Level Study courses and exchange programmes
  • Excellent Research environment
  • Various job opportunities for qualified individuals



19/07/2017 – Talks by Mauro Tempesta, Francesco Palmarini, Heider Wahsheh, Marco Squarcina

The program of the day will be:

11.00 Mauro Tempesta
11.20 Francesco Palmarini
11.40 Heider Wahsheh
14.00 Marco Squarcina

Titles and abstracts follow:

Title: Run-time Attack Detection in Cryptographic APIs
Speaker: Marco Squarcina
Cryptographic APIs are often vulnerable to attacks that compromise
sensitive cryptographic keys. In the literature we find many proposals
for preventing or mitigating such attacks but they typically require to
modify the API or to configure it in a way that might break existing
applications. This makes it hard to adopt such proposals, especially
because security APIs are often used in highly sensitive settings, such
as financial and critical infrastructures, where systems are rarely
modified and legacy applications are very common. In this talk we
propose a different approach. We introduce an effective method to
monitor existing cryptographic systems in order to detect, and possibly
prevent, the leakage of sensitive cryptographic keys. The method
collects logs for various devices and cryptographic services and is able
to detect, offline, any leakage of sensitive keys, under the assumption
that a key fingerprint is provided for each sensitive key. We define key
security formally and we prove that the method is sound, complete and
efficient. We also show that without key fingerprinting completeness is
lost, i.e., some attacks cannot be detected. We discuss possible
practical implementations and we develop a proof-of-concept log analysis
tool for PKCS#11 that is able to detect, on a significant fragment of
the API, all key-management attacks from the literature.

14/07/2017 – Talk by Matus Namec

Title: Measuring Popularity of Cryptographic Libraries in Internet-Wide Scans Fingerprinting
Time: 11:00
Location: Skype call
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Matus Nemec
We measure the popularity of cryptographic libraries in large datasets of RSA public keys. We do so by improving a recently proposed method based on biases introduced by alternative implementations of prime selection in different cryptographic libraries. We extend the previous work by applying statistical inference to approximate a share of libraries matching an observed distribution of RSA keys in an inspected dataset (e.g., Internet-wide scan of TLS handshakes). The sensitivity of our method is sufficient to detect transient events such as a periodic insertion of keys from a specific library into Certificate Transparency logs and inconsistencies in archived datasets.

We apply the method on keys from multiple Internet-wide scans collected in years 2010 through 2017, on Certificate Transparency logs and on separate datasets for PGP keys and SSH keys. The results quantify a strong dominance of OpenSSL with more than 84% TLS keys for Alexa 1M domains, steadily increasing since the first measurement. OpenSSL is even more popular for GitHub client-side SSH keys, with a share larger than 96%. Surprisingly, new certificates inserted in Certificate Transparency logs on certain days contain more than 20% keys most likely originating from Java libraries, while TLS scans contain less than 5% of such keys.

Since the ground truth is not known, we compared our measurements with other estimates and simulated different scenarios to evaluate the accuracy of our method. To our best knowledge, this is the first accurate measurement of the popularity of cryptographic libraries not based on proxy information like web server fingerprinting, but directly on the number of observed unique keys.

Project “Formal Specification for Secured Software System” has been approved!

The project entitled “Formal Specification for Secured Software System” has been approved for funding. We would like to congratulate prof. Agostino Cortesi who is the Italian principal investigator and prof. Nabendu Chaki who is the Indian principal investigator. The objective of the project is to investigate whether security policies of a (possibly safety critical) system could be integrated into the formal requirement specification using formal methods, in order to detect ambiguities and inconsistencies within the specification phase in Software development life-cycle. The funding will cover the costs of researchers’ mobility between India and Italy.

14/02/2017 – Talk by Ivan Stojic

Title: Algorithms for stationary analysis of stochastic Petri nets
Time: 12:30
Location: Meeting room, Building Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Ivan Stojic
Stochastic Petri nets (SPN) are a Markovian formalism for qualitative and quantitative analysis of discrete event dynamic systems. Among other uses, they have been used extensively in performance evaluation of telecommunication systems, computer systems and networks. Analysis of steady-state behaviour of an SPN model usually requires stationary analysis of a continuous-time Markov chain (CTMC) underlying the SPN, whose state space for many practical models is too large to be analysed by direct methods. This serious drawback is shared with many other modeling formalisms and is usually referred to as state space explosion. Usually simulation can be employed to analyse such models. An alternative is to restrict the SPN formalism to product-form SPNs, a class of nets whose unnormalised stationary probability distribution can be obtained in closed form, making stationary analysis much simpler. In this thesis we present algorithms for stationary analysis of SPN models based on efficient encoding of state spaces and transition functions by multi-valued decision diagrams, an efficient data structure. After a short introduction to SPNs and their steady-state analysis, we start with simulation of SPNs and present an algorithm for perfect sampling of SPNs that can be used to directly obtain samples from the stationary distribution. After this, we turn to product-form SPNs and present an algorithm for computation of normalising constant, needed for the normalisation of stationary probabilities in the analysis of product-form models.

15/02/2017 – Talk by Fabiana Zollo

Title: Social Dynamics on Online Social Media: A Data Science Approach
Time: 13:00
Location: Meeting room, Building Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Fabiana Zollo
Information, rumors, debates shape and reinforce the perception of reality and heavily impact public opinion. Indeed, the way in which individuals influence each other is one of the foundational challenges in several disciplines such as sociology, social psychology, and economics. In particular, on online social networks users tend to select information that is coherent to their system of beliefs and to form polarized groups of like-minded people –i.e, echo chambers– where they reinforce and polarize their pre-existing opinions. Such a context exacerbates misinformation, which has traditionally represented a political, social, and economic risk. In this talk we explore how we can understand social dynamics by analyzing massive data on Facebook. By means of a tight quantitative analysis on 376 millions users we characterize the anatomy of news consumption on a global scale. We show that users tend to focus on a limited set of pages (selective exposure) eliciting a sharp and polarized community structure among news outlets. Moreover, we find similar patterns around the Brexit –the British referendum to leave the European Union– debate, where we observe the spontaneous emergence of two well segregated and polarized groups of users around news oultets. Our findings provide interesting insights about the determinants of polarization and the evolution of core narratives on online debating, and highlight the crucial role of data science techniques to understand and map the information space on online social media. The main aim of this research stream is to identify non-trivial proxies for the early detection of massive (mis)informational cascades. Furthermore, by combining users traces we are able to draft the main concepts and beliefs of the core narrative of an echo chamber and its related perceptions.

21/12/2016 – Talk by Alvise Spanò

Title: Lw: a new general-purpose programming language
Time: 13:00
Location: Meeting room, Building Zeta
Type: Research Result
Speaker: Alvise Spanò
e introduce Lw, a new general purpose, statically typed, strict, impure, functional language supporting cutting-edge features and advanced forms of polymorphism for writing robust, reusable and succinct code. It integrates state-of-the-art advancements in the field of programming languages together with a number of novel bits which makes it ideal for writing big as well as small programs: each heavyweight declarative language construct offers an inferred lightweight counterpart, allowing programmers to design large software architectures that seamlessly coexist with more script-like code.

Among its highlights: type and kind inference, System-F types and first-class polymorphism, open-world overloading with automatic context-dependant resolution, implicit function parameters and controlled dynamic scoping, Generalized Algebraic Datatypes (GADTs), row types for polymorphic variants and records, powerful kind system supporting higher-order polymorphism and kind polymorphism, first-class modules and much more.

Resolution of type constraints is central to many language mechanisms, which, combined with overloading, leads to a form of static dispatching that can either be automatic or assisted by the programmer; dually, row-typed records are subject to dynamic dispatching by nature and enables structural subtyping – a.k.a. sound duck typing. And here lies one of Lw’s most notable and novel features: users can turn type constraints into records and viceversa anytime by using a pair of special inject/eject operators, converting a non-first-class entity which basically resembles a dictionary into a first-class record value, and the other way round. This makes two worlds communicate: the world of static resolution and the world of dynamic resolution. Languages out there typically do not define a clear symmetry in this respect; plus, a lot of boilterplate code is often required for switching between the two worlds, when possible at all.
In Lw this symmetry is crucial and explitly designed, encouraging code reuse.