by Aljosa Pasic and Jim Clarke

The emerging service centric ICT paradigm is changing the way infrastructure and applications will be managed and delivered in the next few years. The new challenges brought about by this paradigm and, in particular, the underlying security considerations are the main focus of the IST FP6 coordination action ESFORS (European Security Forum for Web services, software and systems), as well as of the working group "Trust, Security and Dependability" of the NESSI (Networked European Software and Service Initiative) European technology platform. The recent workshop held in Paris on 6-8 September 2006 shows that there is growing mutual interest on research in security and software engineering. The workshop was attended by more than 70 participants coming both from industry and academia. This article presents the main workshop conclusions as well as related technology roadmapping activities.

ESFORS, a Coordination Action that brings together the right stakeholders
ESFORS is a coordination action of the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme of the 6th framework programme (FP). It aims at bringing together the European stakeholders for secure and dependable Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to address the security and dependability requirements of emerging software systems and service platforms, such as web services.

The project will complement already existing coordination actions in the area of ICT for security, dependability and trust, such as SecurIST (http://www.securitytaskforce.eu/). It will co-operate with SecurIST to ensure that open service requirements are incorporated into the SecurIST security and dependability technology roadmap and that the roadmap is incorporated into the research agenda of the software and service research community, notably through the strategic research agenda of the NESSI technology platform. Moreover, ESFORS will act as a bridge between two research communities: the software and service engineering community and the security and dependability community.

In order to take into account the views and experience of the experts and stakeholders in the field of security and dependability of software systems and services, ESFORS has created an expert group of well known researchers and experts from academia, industry and research institutes from nearly all states of the European Union (EU).

ESFORS organises conferences and workshops that are the main vehicle for giving an opportunity to the research communities and expert groups to present their ideas, discuss and reach consensus upon the future research challenges in security and dependability that need to be addressed in prospective European research programmes. The workshops are focused on particular topics that deal with security and service oriented software architectures and infrastructures.

European Technology Platform NESSI and NESSI Working Groups
Promoted by thirteen major European ICT corporations, NESSI aims to develop a visionary strategy for software and services driven by a common European research agenda. NESSI has been officially launched on 7 September 2005 in Brussels. During the last NESSI general assembly, held on 8 June 2006 in Brussels, there has been an opportunity to present the working groups as well as the NESSI contribution to the research priorities of the EU's 7th FP. New partners and new community members have also been announced during that event. The core partners of ESFORS proposed and established one of the first NESSI working groups to officially receive approval, entitled 'Trust, Security and Dependability Working Group' (TSD WG).

Research Priorities for Trust, Security and Dependability in Software Systems and Services
Software applications will be broken into separately managed component services and will form so called dynamic service coalitions. This has many consequences from a security point of view: first, applications will need to utilise components out of different domains of control that are required to obey separate security policies and ask for diverse security and dependability qualities; second, components may be owned and operated by different organisations so that informal company arrangements will have to be replaced by formal agreements resulting from partially automated negotiations; and third, the services will be shared between many consumers, which implies advanced confidentiality, virtualization and isolation requirements.

Taking these evolutions into consideration, the participants of the ESFORS-NESSI workshops held in Paris on 6-8 September 2006 have derived the following conclusions regarding the main research priorities to focus on (this is a non exhaustive list):

  • Privacy considerations - a clear definition of privacy as well as research scope is needed in order to unify criteria and to decide on the most appropriate research directions. Some of the suggested topics to further explore and develop include: User empowerment, usage control and visibility, context-aware privacy, data issues in software services, protection control and accountability.
  • Identity considerations - after discussion on the identity concept, the existence of a unique or multiple identities per individual in service-oriented environments, the possibility to manage identity in dynamic service coalitions and many other topics have been debated. These include: links between privacy, reputation, identity, credential systems and interoperability, solutions for 'special' identity cases (group identity, inclusive identity, identity of “things” etc), virtualization of identity, interoperability, identity control lifecycle (issue, verification, revocation, etc.), repudiation of identity etc.
  • Security mechanisms for services - this is an extensive research topic since it encompasses issues like: clear division between modification of old security mechanisms and establishing new mechanisms, policies integration and enforcement, negotiation and conflict resolution mechanisms, adaptive security, reusability and portability of mechanisms, etc.
  • Trust analysis, management and monitoring - these are two different, but inter-related, sub-topics that include, respectively: Trust analysis and management including trust modelling and computational trust; and dependability assessment and monitoring.
  • Security and dependability engineering - some issues concerning security and dependability engineering are: use of patterns, integration of ‘lessons learnt’ and formal models, semantics, secure coding, secure migration, etc. There was a particular emphasis on decision making in security engineering (user-driven, risk-driven, threat-driven, trust-driven, complexity- and cost-driven, etc).
  • Stakeholders expectations - a number of key issues were discussed from the perspective of various stakeholders including end users, enterprises, academia, and service and communications providers. These topics included challenges related to the risk management approach to security, including quantitative risk assessment, the need for methods and tools for complex scenarios, raising awareness, the relationship between trust and training, and costs vs. benefits across all three perspectives: citizen, industry and regulatory. In addition, the need for secure metrics and monitoring protocols and taxonomy or common language are needed to ensure that all stakeholders on security can communicate in a mutually understand language, which is very difficult in this environment.

The full report presenting in detail the conclusions of the ESFORS-NESSI workshop held in Paris can be found at http://www.esfors.org/index.php?option=com_remository &Itemid=65.

The above research topics and priorities were further examined with research stakeholders in the NESSI TSD WG in two meetings held in September and November 2006, respectively. In addition, the ESFORS project organised and hosted a networking session at the IST 2006 event on 23 November 2006 in Helsinki. The well-attended session was entitled 'Bringing Together the European Stakeholders for Secure Service and Software Engineering: Creating trust, security and dependability in service applications'. The keynote addresses for the ESFORS networking session and the project proposal presentations can be found at the ESFORS web site. The next ESFORS-NESSI workshop is scheduled for June 2007 in Maribor, Slovenia.

Links:
ESFORS: http://www.esfors.org
NESSI: http://www.nessi-europe.com/

Please contact:
ESFORS coordinator Pedro Soria, Atos Origin
E-mail: pedro.soria@atosorigin.com

NESSI WG chairman Aljosa Pasic, Atos Origin
E-mail: aljosa.pasic@atosorigin.com

Next issue: October 2019
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