Graph-theoretic method for merging security system specifications

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Computer security policies specify conditions for permissions to access various computer resources and information. Merging two security policies is needed when two organizations, together with their computer systems, merge into one entity as in corporate business acquisition. We propose a graph-theoretic method for merging the role/object hierarchies of two security policies. The formulation of merged hierachies is based on the graph minor relation in graph theory. Ideally, the merged role hierarchy should contain both the participating role hierarchies as graph minors, and similarly for the object hierarchy. We show that one can decide in polynomial time whether this ideal case is possible when the participating hierarchies are trees. We also show that in case the merged hierarchy exists, it can be constructed in polynomial time. Algorithms for detecting the feasibility of an ideal merged tree and for constructing the merged tree are presented. Our hierarchy/tree merge method is also applicable to the integration of heterogeneous databases with generalization hierarchies. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Information Sciences

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