SecPAL: Design and Semantics of a Decentralized Authorization Language

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Executive Summary

The authors present a declarative authorization language. Policies and credentials are expressed using predicates defined by logical clauses, in the style of constraint logic programming. Access requests are mapped to logical authorization queries, consisting of predicates and constraints combined by conjunctions, disjunctions, and negations. Access is granted if the query succeeds against the current database of clauses. Predicates ascribe rights to particular principals, with flexible support for delegation and revocation. At the discretion of the delegator, delegated rights can be further delegated, either to a fixed depth, or arbitrarily deeply. The language strikes a careful balance between syntactic and semantic simplicity, policy expressiveness, and execution efficiency.

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