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AIC Seminar Series

Using OWL Policies for Security in Dynamic, Distributed Environments

Lalana KagalUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County

Date:  Friday, May 21st 2004 at 10:30am

Location:  EJ228  (Directions)


Security is a critical problem in dynamic and open distributed environments such as those enabled by the semantic web and pervasive computing technologies. The presence of heterogeneous entities that are neither pre-determined nor permanent, and the lack of central control are some of its challenges. We believe that declarative policies address these issues while maintaining openness and flexibility. We propose the use of policies defined in OWL to constrain the behavior of entities in these environments as OWL provides the extensibility required to incorporate different kinds of application-specific knowledge. Rei is a policy language based in OWL-Lite that allows policies to be specified as constraints over allowable and obligated actions on resources in the environment. Rei also includes logic-like variables giving it the flexibility to specify relations like role value maps that are not directly possible in OWL. Rei includes meta policy specifications for conflict resolution, speech acts for remote policy management and policy analysis specifications like what-if analysis and use-case management making it a suitable candidate for adaptable security in the environments under consideration. The Rei engine, developed in XSB, reasons over Rei policies and domain knowledge represented in RDF and OWL to provide answers about the current permissions and obligations of an entity, which are used to guide an entity’s behavior. I will describe Rei specifications and discuss several of its implemented applications : (i) Semantic web services where policies are integrated into OWL-S, (ii) Internet privacy where the privacy policies of users are described in Rei and enforced by a proxy, (iii) collaborative multi-agent systems where Rei is used to describe policies governing team formation, collaboration and information flow, and (iv) pervasive computing environments in which the actions allowed on a mobile, handheld device are restricted by its context. Though I will briefly describe how Rei is used in all these scenarios, I will concentrate on its application in the semantic web services framework.

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