Formalization of CommCSL: A Relational Concurrent Separation Logic for Proving Information Flow Security in Concurrent Programs

Thibault Dardinier 📧

March 15, 2023

This is a development version of this entry. It might change over time and is not stable. Please refer to release versions for citations.


Information flow security ensures that the secret data manipulated by a program does not influence its observable output. Proving information flow security is especially challenging for concurrent programs, where operations on secret data may influence the execution time of a thread and, thereby, the interleaving between threads. Such internal timing channels may affect the observable outcome of a program even if an attacker does not observe execution times. Existing verification techniques for information flow security in concurrent programs attempt to prove that secret data does not influence the relative timing of threads. However, these techniques are often restrictive (for instance because they disallow branching on secret data) and make strong assumptions about the execution platform (ignoring caching, processor instructions with data-dependent execution time, and other common features that affect execution time).

In this entry, we formalize and prove the soundness of CommCSL, a novel relational concurrent separation logic for proving secure information flow in concurrent programs that lifts these restrictions and does not make any assumptions about timing behavior. The key idea is to prove that all mutating operations performed on shared data commute, such that different thread interleavings do not influence its final value. Crucially, commutativity is required only for an abstraction of the shared data that contains the information that will be leaked to a public output. Abstract commutativity is satisfied by many more operations than standard commutativity, which makes our technique widely applicable.


BSD License


Related publications

  • Eilers, M., Dardinier, T., & Müller, P. (2022). CommCSL: Proving Information Flow Security for Concurrent Programs using Abstract Commutativity (Version 2). arXiv.

Session CommCSL