Formal verification of cryptographic protocols with automated reasoning

Ben Smyth (2011) Formal verification of cryptographic protocols with automated reasoning. PhD thesis, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.



Cryptographic protocols form the backbone of our digital society. Unfortunately, the security of numerous critical components has been neglected. As a consequence, attacks have resulted in financial loss, violations of personal privacy, and threats to democracy. This thesis aids the secure design of cryptographic protocols and facilitates the evaluation of existing schemes.

Developing a secure cryptographic protocol is game-like in nature, and a good designer will consider attacks against key components. Unlike games, however, an adversary is not governed by the rules and may deviate from expected behaviours. Secure cryptographic protocols are therefore notoriously difficult to define. Accordingly, cryptographic protocols must be scrutinised by experts using procedures that can evaluate security properties.

This thesis advances verification techniques for cryptographic protocols using formal methods with an emphasis on automation. The key contributions are threefold. Firstly, a definition of election verifiability for electronic voting protocols is presented; secondly, a definition of user-controlled anonymity for Direct Anonymous Attestation is delivered; and, finally, a procedure to automatically evaluate observational equivalence is introduced.

This work enables security properties of cryptographic protocols to be studied. In particular, we evaluate security in electronic voting protocols and Direct Anonymous Attestation schemes; discovering, and fixing, a vulnerability in the RSA-based Direct Anonymous Attestation protocol. Ultimately, this thesis will help avoid the current situation whereby numerous cryptographic protocols are deployed and found to be insecure.

Summary of contents:

Part I Preliminaries

Part II Formalisation of security properties

Part III Automated reasoning

Part IV Evaluation

Bibtex Entry

	author = "Ben Smyth",
	title = "{Formal verification of cryptographic protocols with automated reasoning}",
	year = "2011",
	school = "School of Computer Science",
	address = "University of Birmingham",
	url = "",