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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 53 | 10. August 2009
Priority Programme 1496 "Reliably Secure Software Systems - RS3"


The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has announced the establishment of a new Priority Programme, entitled "Reliably Secure Software Systems - RS3". The programme is designed to run for six years.

This Priority Programme assumes that a paradigm shift in IT-security is necessary in order to reliably guarantee the security of complex software systems. The current trust-based and mechanism-centric approaches to IT-security shall be complemented by property-oriented solutions. This paradigm shift shall enable a trustworthy certification of system-wide, technical security guarantees that adequately respects the semantics of programs and of security requirements. Bridging the gap from security in-the-small to security in-the-large will involve the improvement of conceptual foundations, the development of analysis and engineering tools, and their migration into practice. Collaborations between multiple sub-disciplines of Computer Science, primarily formal methods, IT-security, and programming languages, will be necessary to achieve the objectives of the programme.

The first guiding theme is the development of precisely defined (and, thus, verifiable) security properties. This shall enable a property-oriented perspective on security that, on the one hand, abstracts from technical details of implementations and, on the other hand, permits one to model the manifold security requirements and guarantees in an adequate and precise way.

The second guiding theme is the development of program analysis methods and tools that target the verification of security properties in a sound, precise, scalable, and usable way. This will create the basis for a semantically substantiated (and, thus, reliable) certification of security guarantees for software systems. Verification tools will be employed to establish security properties of programs as well as to ensure the soundness of security analysis tools.

The third guiding theme is the development of concepts for understanding and certifying security aspects even in complex software systems (hence, for security in-the-large). This requires the adaptation of established techniques for abstraction, decomposition and stepwise refinement to the field of security. In particular, it shall become possible to derive abstract security guarantees (e.g., need-to-know or separation-of-duty) from the low-level properties that are typically guaranteed by security mechanisms.

The emphasis of the Priority Programme will be on approaches to control the flow of information and the usage of security-critical data. Though being designed with this focus in mind, the programme is open to alternative, possibly speculative approaches. Existing information flow properties like noninterference shall serve as a role model with respect to declarativeness and conciseness of semantic foundations.

The overall goal of the programme is to support the reliable certification of useful, system-wide security guarantees based on a well-founded understanding of programs and of security aspects. Project proposals could aim at advancing and/or at evaluating formal modeling, program analysis, and verification techniques. Also welcome are, for instance, proposals for program transformations that repair insecure programs, for software engineering techniques that establish security properties by construction, and for approaches that facilitate the migration of formal, property-centric approaches into practice. Tandem projects between researchers from different areas who have not yet worked in the respective other discipline are possible.

Each proposal shall exhibit potential to contribute to the formal certification of system-wide security guarantees. Proposals must clearly identify which security properties they will address. Proposals that aim for general advances in program analysis or of verification tools as well as proposals that aim for advances of specific security mechanisms (like, e.g., authentication mechanisms, access controls or cryptographic algorithms) are outside scope - unless they establish a clear connection to the overall goal of the programme.

All potential applicants are invited to participate in a preparation workshop to be held on October 1-2, 2009 in Darmstadt. Participants should contact the coordinator Prof. Dr. Heiko Mantel as soon as possible. Details can be found on the webpage listed below. Attending the meeting is recommended, but it is not a prerequisite for submitting a project proposal.

Proposals for an initial two-year funding period should be submitted on paper and on CD-ROM (including the proposal and all appendices as pdf-files) no later than March 15, 2010. All proposals must be written in English. Submissions, marked as "SPP 1496 Reliably Secure Software Systems - RS3", should be addressed to Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, attn. Dr. Gerit Sonntag, 53170 Bonn and, in addition, to Prof. Dr. Heiko Mantel (see address below). The first funding period is planned to start in September 2010.

Further Informationen

Information on the Priority Programme (including the programme's proposal and details on the preparation workshop) is available at

For scientific enquiries concerning the scope of the programme, please contact the Priority Programme's coordinator

  • Prof. Dr. Heiko Mantel, MAIS,
    Fachbereich Informatik,
    TU Darmstadt,
    Hochschulstraße 10,
    64293 Darmstadt,