# Theory Generation for Security Protocols

**Authors:** Darrell Kindred, Jeannette M. Wing
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## Abstract

We introduce *theory generation*, a new general-purpose
technique for performing automated verification. Theory generation
draws inspiration from, and complements, both automated theorem
proving and symbolic model checking, the two approaches that currently
dominate mechanical reasoning. At the core of this approach is the
notion of producing a finite representation of a theory---all the
facts derivable from a set of assumptions. We present an algorithm
for producing compact theory representations for an expressive class
of simple logics.
Security-sensitive protocols are widely used today, and the
growing popularity of electronic commerce is leading to increasing
reliance on them. Though simple in structure, these protocols are
notoriously difficult to design properly. Since specifications of
these protocols typically involve only a small number of principals,
keys, nonces, and messages, and since many properties of interest can
be expressed in ``little logics'' such as the Burrows, Abadi, and
Needham (BAN) logic of authentication, this domain is amenable to
theory generation.

Theory generation enables fast, automated analysis of these
security protocols. Given the theory representation generated from a
protocol specification, one can quickly test for specific desired
properties, as well as directly manipulate the representation to
perform other kinds of analysis, such as protocol comparison. This
paper describes applications of theory generation to more than a dozen
security protocols using four different logics of belief; these
examples confirm, or in some cases expose flaws in earlier analyses.