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Abstract: “Tracking information flow in dynamic languages remains an open challenge. It might seem natural to address the challenge by runtime monitoring. However, there are well-known fundamental limits of dynamic flow-sensitive tracking of information flow, where paths not taken in a given execution contribute to information leaks. This paper shows how to overcome the permissiveness limit for dynamic analysis by a novel use of testing. We start with a program supervised by an information flow monitor. The security of the execution is guaranteed by the monitor.

Testing boosts the permissiveness of the monitor by discovering paths where the monitor raises security exceptions. Upon discovering a security error, the program is modified by injecting an annotation that prevents the same security exception on the next run of the program. The elegance of the approach is that it is sound no matter how much coverage is provided by the testing. Further, we show that when the mechanism has discovered the necessary annotations, then we have an accuracy guarantee: the results of monitoring a program are at least as accurate as flow-sensitive static analysis. We illustrate our approach for a simple imperative language with records and exceptions. Our experiments with the QuickCheck tool indicate that random testing accurately discovers annotations for a collection of scenarios with rich information flows.”

Nick’s note: The prototype language is JavaScript like with the monitor implementation in Haskell.