The eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) has attracted significant attention from both industry and academia, and has become the de facto standard for the specification of access control policies. However, its XML-based verbose syntax and rich set of constructs make the authoring of XACML policies difficult and error-prone. Several automated tools have been proposed to analyze XACML policies before their actual deployment. However, most of the existing tools either cannot efficiently reason about non-Boolean attributes, which often appear in XACML policies, or restrict the analysis to a small set of properties. This work presents a policy analysis framework for the verification of XACML policies based on SAT modulo theories (SMT). We show how XACML policies can be encoded into SMT formulas, along with a query language able to express a variety of well-known security properties, for policy analysis. By being able to reason over non-Boolean attributes, our SMT-based policy analysis framework allows a fine-grained policy analysis while relieving policy authors of the burden of defining an appropriate level of granularity of the analysis. An evaluation of the framework shows that it is computationally efficient and requires less memory compared to existing approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-203
Number of pages19
JournalComputers and Security
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

    Research areas

  • Experimental evaluation, First-order logic, Logic encoding of policy analysis problems, Satisfiability modulo theories, XACML policy analysis

ID: 32863826