On the safety and efficiency of firewall policy deployment

Charles C. Zhang, Marianne Winslett, Carl A. Gunter

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


Firewall policy management is challenging and error-prone. While ample research has led to tools for policy specification, correctness analysis, and optimization, few researchers have paid attention to firewall policy deployment: the process where a management tool edits a firewall's configuration to make it run the policies specified in the tool. In this paper, we provide the first formal definition and theoretical analysis of safety in firewall policy deployment. We show that naive deployment approaches can easily create a temporary security hole by permitting illegal traffic, or interrupt service by rejecting legal traffic during the deployment. We define safe and most-efficient deployments, and introduce the shuffling theorem as a formal basis for constructing deployment algorithms and proving their safety. We present efficient algorithms for constructing most-efficient deployments in popular policy editing languages. We show that in certain widelyinstalled policy editing languages, a safe deployment is not always possible. We also show how to leverage existing diff algorithms to guarantee a safe, mostefficient, and monotonic deployment in other editing languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - S and P 2007
Subtitle of host publication2007 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP'07
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2007
EventS and P 2007: 2007 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP'07 - Berkeley, CA, United States
Duration: May 20 2007May 23 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy
ISSN (Print)1081-6011


OtherS and P 2007: 2007 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP'07
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBerkeley, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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