Report Number: CSL-TR-97-728
Institution: Stanford University, Computer Systems Laboratory
Title: Defining a Security Reference Architecture
Author: Meldal, Sigurd
Author: Luckham, David
Date: june 1997
Abstract: This report discusses the definition and modeling of reference architectures that specify the security aspects of distributed systems. NSA's MISSI (Multilevel Information System Security Initiative) security reference architecture is used as an illustrative example. We show how one would define such a reference architecture, and how one could use such a definition to model as well as check implementations for compliance with the reference. We demonstrate that an ADL should have not only the capability to specify interfaces, connections and operational constraints, but also to specify how it is related to other architectures or to implementations. A reference architecture such as MISSI is defined in Rapide [10] as a set of hierarchical interface connection architectures [9]. Each Rapide interface connection architecture is a reference architecture - an abstract architecture that allows a number of different implementations, but which enforces common structure and communication rules. The hierarchical reference architecture defines the MISSI policies at different levels - at the level of enclaves communicating through a network, at the level of each enclave being a local area network with firewalls and workstations and at the level of the individual workstations. The reference architecture defines standard components, communication patterns and policies common to MISSI compliant networks of computer systems. A network of computers may be checked for conformance against the reference architecture. The report also shows how one can generate architecture scenarios of networks of communicating computers. The scenarios are constructed as Rapide executable models, and the behaviors of the models can be checked for conformance with the reference architecture in these scenarios. The executable models demonstrate how the structure and security policies in the reference architecture may apply to networks of computers.