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Information for Researchers No. 72 | 20 December 2013
Priority Programme “Reliably Secure Software Systems – RS3” (SPP 1496)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved a Priority Programme “Reliably Secure Software Systems – RS3”. The programme started its first phase in October 2010, and it is designed to run for six years. This call for proposals concerns the third two-year phase from October 2014 to September 2016. Proposals of projects that continue projects from the two previous phases as well as proposals of new projects are welcome.

The 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 programmes 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.

The first guiding theme of RS3 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 of RS3 is the development of programme 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 programmes as well as to ensure the soundness of security analysis tools.

The third guiding theme of RS3 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 adaption 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 overall goal of the Priority Programme is to support the reliable certification of useful, system-wide security guarantees based on a well-founded understanding of programmes and of security aspects. The emphasis is on approaches to control the flow of information and the usage of security-critical data. Though being designed with this focus in mind, the Priority 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.

In the third phase of RS3, each project shall contribute to all three guiding themes. Each project proposal must clearly state (1) how security in-the-large will be tackled as well as (2) which security properties and (3) which verification techniques will be relevant. Proposals that aim for general advances in programme 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 Priority Programme.

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. Tandem projects between researchers from different areas, who have not yet worked in the respective other discipline, are possible (but not required). To emphasise the potential for synergies with other projects, each proposal shall state which of the following four keywords fits the scope of the project best: “sequential noninterference”, “concurrent noninterference”, “security engineering” and “usage control”. Proposals shall also clearly indicate to which of the three RS3-wide reference scenarios the project will contribute to: “Security in E-Voting”, “Security in Web-based Workflow Management Systems” and “Software Security for Mobile Devices”.

All applicants shall reserve the second week of October 2014 such that they can participate in the yearly meeting of RS3, which shall be attended at least by all principal investigators and all researchers financed by the Priority Programme. In contrast to the first phase, the costs for participating in networking events will not be reimbursed by the DFG directly.

Proposals for a two-year funding period must be submitted via elan (the electronic submission system of the DFG) no later than 1 April 2014. All proposals must be written in English and be in compliance with the official guidelines and proposal preparation instructions of DFG. In addition to uploading the proposal in elan please send one copy via e-mail to Prof. Dr. Heiko Mantel (see address below). The third funding period is planned to start in October 2014.

First time applicants will need to register themselves with the elan portal first. Please consider that confirmation of the registration will take about one working day. Proposal upload will not be possible without confirmation.

Further information

Information about the Priority Programme is available at:

The DFG’s electronic proposal processing system elan with proposal instructions and guidelines can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in the DFG forms 50.05en and 54.01en, which can be found on the DFG’s website at:

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

For administrative enquiries, including questions on setting up the proposal, please contact: