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Looking for a Good Argument: Assurance Case Frameworks for High Confidence Software Chuck Howell 10 October 2002.

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Presentation on theme: "Looking for a Good Argument: Assurance Case Frameworks for High Confidence Software Chuck Howell 10 October 2002."— Presentation transcript:

1 Looking for a Good Argument: Assurance Case Frameworks for High Confidence Software Chuck Howell 10 October 2002

2 2 Our Reach Exceeds Our Grasp in Software l Cause: simple software error - Overflow converting 64 bit value to 16 bit l Failure despite … - Hardware confidence measures: Redundant computers - Software confidence measures: Software used successfully on Ariane-4 l Why? - Both computers ran the same software - Different flight envelope, and evolutionary use changed software’s environment in unanticipated ways 4 June 1996: 1st flight of Ariane-5

3 3 The Trend: Our Reach Keeps Increasing Consequences of Failure Complexity Software-intensive critical systems Additional pressures: Increasing COTS/legacy use Pace of technology adoption/change Systems of Systems increasing Increasingly a target of attack Often no manual alternative past present future

4 4 l Software is a discrete system; traditional engineering disciplines typically work with continuous systems l Sensitivity to small errors l Limited ability to generalize test results l Absence of safety margins l Enormous numbers of states to consider l Good experiments and empirical studies are rare, and we have a weak scientific and engineering basis for decisions l Many problems are latent in rarely used portions, waiting for “rare events” to trigger them l “Best practices” often optimize specific activities without respect to the total process and problem Why is This Hard?

5 5 Bridge Building and Learning What Can go Wrong l Engineers to Nature: “Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me” l Software developers: “Fool me N times, hey, this is complex and anyway no one expects software to work the first time…”

6 6 So What is an “Assurance Case”? l Safety-critical, security-critical systems are frequently under regulation or acquisition constraints - Third party certification, approval, licensing, etc. - Require a documented body of evidence that provides a compelling case that the system satisfies certain critical properties for specific contexts (to “make the case”) - Examples include DO-178B (civilian avionics), Common Criteria (Infosec), MIL-STD-882D (weapon system safety) - Called “safety case”, “certification evidence”, “security case”… - Collectively we’ll refer to them as “assurance cases”

7 7 So What is an “Assurance Case”? Claims, subclaims Arguments Evidence

8 8 Claims in Assurance Cases l Assertion of compliance with key requirements and properties l Must be in a specific context - Environment - Services or behavior - Threats - “Is this brick safe?” illustrates why… l Subclaims may be analogous to “lemmas” in a proof - Supports separation of concerns, workflow, makes overall case more manageable Terminology used here and next few slides is from the SHIP project (EU Environment Programme)

9 9 Arguments in Assurance Cases l Link evidence to claims via a series of inference rules l Three types of argument - Deterministic: application of defined rules to produce a true/false assertion (e.g., formal proof, exhaustive test) - Probabilistic: quantitative statistical reasoning to establish a numerical threshold (e.g., MTTF) - Qualitative: Relying on adherence to rules that have an indirect link to desired properties (e.g., standards, process guides) l No such thing as perfection: “It is quite possible to follow a faulty analytical process and write a clear and persuasive argument in support of an erroneous judgment” -- R. Heuer, The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (quotation courtesy Brant Cheikes, MITRE)

10 10 Evidence in Assurance Cases: The “Assurance Tripod” ProcessProcess ProductProduct TestTest Software Assurance Combining evidence from multiple sources: 0 Process and people used to develop the system 0 Systematic testing 0 Product review and analyses 0 Testing alone cannot provide adequate evidence

11 11 Combining Evidence: Domain and Structural Expertise Required Domain Issues Structural Software Issues Evidence required to support claims

12 12 “The Trouble with Assurance Cases Today”… l Much room for improvement - Post-mortems of spectacular mishaps - Cost and burden of high assurance systems l There are problems in every aspects of assurance cases - Building them - Reviewing them - Maintaining them - Reusing them

13 13 Building the Assurance Case l Most guidance is strong on excruciating detail for format, weak on gathering, merging, and reviewing technical evidence l Guidance often uses the “cast a wide net” tactic - Assurance costs time and money - “Squandered diagnostic resources” l Little tool support and free format text files makes coordination, tracking, and workflow management hard - Imagine building a 500 page project plan by hand, on paper

14 14 Reviewing the Assurance Case l Stacks of free-format text makes the review process tedious - Hard to see linkages or patterns - Hides key results in sheer volume l Weak guidance on review of arguments and evidence often results in ad hoc criteria (be very nice to your reviewer!) l “It should be what you’ve accomplished, not how hard you’ve worked”… l What if evidence is incomplete, or inconsistent? How to evaluate strength of evidence?

15 15 Maintaining the Assurance Case l The one thing more brittle than software: the associated assurance case l Volume and free format text makes it difficult to understand impact of a change on assurance structure - Have the claims changed? - Are arguments invalidated or new ones needed? - Is evidence still relevant, new evidence needed? - “Weak link effect” of discrete systems compounds the problem l Revalidation costs are a major burden for critical systems

16 16 Reusing the Assurance Case l Assurance case frameworks are rarely “1 st class objects”, the subject of study per se l Not much attention paid to tool support, idioms and templates, extracting patterns for future use l The relationship between claims, arguments, and evidence is not often explicit, making it hard to distinguish reusable from project specific portions of assurance case l Compare this with building a deck using a project planning tool

17 17 Opportunities for Improvement: Focus of MITRE Research l Ask me again this time next year… l Areas being explored (including connecting with existing work) - Notation (including graphical representations) l Goal Structuring Notation, Toulmin structures,… - Tool support l Simple editor and templates l Structural flaws and checking l Templates and idioms l Browser and annotations for review - Empirical study l Comparing various existing assurance cases l Apply early results to guinea pig projects (in parallel)

18 18 Potential Impact of New Tools and Techniques They’re teaching a new way of plowing over at the Grange tonight - you going? Naw - I already don’t plow as good as I know how... “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Goethe

19 19 Why is This Relevant? Software assurance is to MITRE’s sponsors what oil is to car engines: Slippery, difficult to handle, and easily overlooked - but if not taken care of, everything grinds to a halt...


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