Date: 18 Jun 1998

Safe, Untrusted Agents Using Proof-Carrying Code

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Proof-Carrying Code (PCC) enables a computer system to determine, automatically and with certainty, that program code provided by another system is safe to install and execute without requiring interpretation or run-time checking. PCC has applications in any computing system in which the safe, efficient, and dynamic installation of code is needed. The key idea is to attach to the code an easily-checkable proof that its execution does not violate the safety policy of the receiving system. This paper describes the design and a typical implementation of Proof-Carrying Code, where the language used for specifying the safety properties is first-order predicate logic. Examples of safety properties described in this paper are memory safety and compliance with data access policies, resource usage bounds, and data abstraction boundaries.

This research was sponsored in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency CSTO under the title “The Fox Project: Advanced Languages for Systems Software,” ARPA Order No. C533, issued by ESC/ENS under Contract No. F19628-95-C-0050.
The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Advanced Research Projects Agency or the U.S. Government.