The Ponder Policy Specification Language

  • Nicodemos Damianou
  • Naranker Dulay
  • Emil Lupu
  • Morris Sloman
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1995)


The Ponder language provides a common means of specifying security policies that map onto various access control implementation mechanisms for firewalls, operating systems, databases and Java. It supports obligation policies that are event triggered condition-action rules for policy based management of networks and distributed systems. Ponder can also be used for security management activities such as registration of users or logging and auditing events for dealing with access to critical resources or security violations. Key concepts of the language include roles to group policies relating to a position in an organisation, relationships to define interactions between roles and management structures to define a configuration of roles and relationships pertaining to an organisational unit such as a department. These reusable composite policy specifications cater for the complexity of large enterprise information systems. Ponder is declarative, strongly-typed and object-oriented which makes the language flexible, extensible and adaptable to a wide range of management requirements.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Abrams, M.D. Renewed Understanding of Access Control Policies. In Proceedings of 16th National Computer Security Conference. 1993. Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chen, F. and R.S. Sandhu. Constraints for Role-Based Access Control. In Proceedings of First ACM/NIST Role Based Access Control Workshop. 1995. Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, ACM Press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chess, D.M., Security Issues in Mobile Code Systems, in Mobile Agents and Security, G. Vigna, Editor. 1998, Springer. p. 256.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Clark, D.D. and D.R. Wilson. A Comparison of Commercial and Military Computer Security Policies. In Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. 1987Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Damianou, N., N. Dulay, E. Lupu, and M. Sloman. Ponder: A Language for Specifying Security and Management Policies for Distributed Systems. The Language Specification-Version 2.2. Research Report DoC 2000/1, Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, Department of Computing, London, 3 April, 2000.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Distributed Management Task Force, Inc. (DMTF), Common Information Model (CIM) Specification, version 2.2, available from, June 14, 1999.
  7. 7.
    Goh, G. Policy Management Requirements, System Management Department, HP Laboratories Bristol, April, 1998.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hegering, H.-G., S. Abeck, and B. Neumair, Integrated Management of Network Systems: Concepts, Architectures and Their Operational Application, 1999: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hewlett-Packard Company, A Primer on Policy-based Network Management, OpenView Network Management Division, Hewlett-Packard Company, September 14, 1999.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hoagland, J.A., R. Pandey, and K.N. Levitt. Security Policy Specificaton Using a Graphical Approach. Technical report CSE-98-3, UC Davis Computer Science Department, July 22, 1998.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Internet Engineering Task Force, Policy Working Group
  12. 12.
    Jajodia, S., P. Samarati, and V.S. Subrahmanian. A Logical Language for Expressing Authorisations. In Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. 1997, pp.31–42Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lobo, J., R. Bhatia, and S. Naqvi. A Policy Description Language. In Proc. of AAAI, July 1999. Orlando, Florida, USAGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lupu, E.C., and M. Sloman. Conflicts in Policy-Based Distributed Systems Management. IEEE Trans. on Software Engineering, 25(6): 852–869 Nov.1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lupu, E.C. A Role-Based Framework for Distributed Systems Management. Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Computing, Imperial College, London, U. K.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lupu, E.C. and M.S. Sloman, Towards a Role Based Framework for Distributed Systems Management. Journal of Network and Systems Management, 1997b. 5(1): p. 5–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mahon, H. Requirements for a Policy Management System. IETF Internet draft work in progress, Available from, 22 October 1999.
  18. 18.
    Marriott, D.A. Policy Service for Distributed Systems. Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Computing, Imperial College, London, U. K.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Miller, J., HELP! How to specify policies?, Unpublished paper, available electronically from
  20. 20.
    Moore, B., J. Strassner, and E. Ellesson, Policy Core Information Model VI, IETF Internet draft, Available from, May 2000.
  21. 21.
    Ortalo, R. A Flexible Method for Information System Security Policy Specification. In Proceedings of 5th European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS 98). 1998. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rational Software Corporation, Object Constraint Language Specification, Version 1.1, Available at, September 1997.
  23. 23.
    Sandhu, R.S. and P. Samarati, Authentication, Access Control, and Intrusion Detection. Part of the paper appeared under the title “Access Control: Principles and Practice” in IEEE Communications, 1994. 32(9): p. 40–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sandhu, R.S., E.J. Coyne, H.L. Feinstein, and C.E. Youman, Role-Based Access Control Models. IEEE Computer, 1996. 29(2): p. 38–47.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sloman, M. and K. Twidle, Domains: A Framework for Structuring Management Policy. Chapter 16 in Network and Distributed Systems Management (Sloman, 1994ed), 1994a: p. 433–453.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sloman, M.S., Policy Driven Management for Distributed Systems. Journal of Network and Systems Management, 1994b. 2(4): p. 333–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Sun Microsystems, Inc., Java Management Extensions Instrumentation and Agent Specification, v1.0, December 1999.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Virmani A., J. Lobo, M. Kohli. Netmon: Network Management for the SARAS Softswitch, IEEE/IFIP Network Operations and Management Symposium, (NOMS2000), ed. J. Hong, R., Weihmayer, Hawaii, May 2000, pp803–816.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Weis, R. Policy Definition and Classification: Aspects, Criteria and Examples. In Proceedings of IFIP/IEEE International Workshop on Distributed Systems: Operations & Management. 1994a. Toulouse, France.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicodemos Damianou
    • 1
  • Naranker Dulay
    • 1
  • Emil Lupu
    • 1
  • Morris Sloman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ComputingImperial CollegeLondon

Personalised recommendations