Go with the flow: Toward workflow-oriented security assessment

Binbin Chen, Zbigniew Kalbarczyk, David M. Nicol, William H. Sanders, Rui Tan, William G. Temple, Nils Ole Tippenhauer, An Hoa Vu, David K.Y. Yau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In this paper we advocate the use of workow|describing how a system provides its intended functionality|as a pillar of cybersecurity analysis and propose a holistic workflow- oriented assessment framework. While workflow models are currently used in the area of performance and reliability assessment, these approaches are designed neither to assess a system in the presence of an active attacker, nor to assess security aspects such as confidentiality. On the other hand, existing security assessment methods typically focus on modeling the active attacker (e.g., attack graphs), but many rely on restrictive models that are not readily applicable to complex (e.g., cyber-physical or cyber-human) systems. By "going with the flow," our assessment framework can naturally adopt a holistic view of such systems, unifying information about system components, their properties, and possible attacks to argue about a security goal. The argument is expressed in a graph structure, based on inputs from several distinct classes that are integrated in a systematic manner. That rigorous structure allows our approach to provide quantitative assessment in an automated fashion (like reliability assessment tools and attack graphs), while maintaining a broad assessment scope. We demonstrate our security assessment process using the case of Advanced Metering Infrastructure in a smart power grid and obtain quantitative results for system availability and confidentiality

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNSPW 2013 - Proceedings of the 2013 New Security Paradigms Workshop
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2013
Event2013 New Security Paradigms Workshop, NSPW 2013 - Banff, AB, Canada
Duration: Sep 9 2013Sep 12 2013

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference2013 New Security Paradigms Workshop, NSPW 2013
CityBanff, AB


  • Argument graph
  • Complex systems
  • Security assessment
  • Security model
  • Workflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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