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The data integrity problem and multi-layered document integrity

Publication Date
  • Qa 75 Electronic Computers. Computer Science
  • Computer Science
  • Linguistics


Data integrity is a fundamental aspect of computer security that has attracted much interest in recent decades. Despite a general consensus for the meaning of the problem, the lack of a formal definition has led to spurious claims such as "tamper proof", "prevent tampering", and "tamper protection", which are all misleading in the absence of a formal definition. Ashman recently proposed a new approach for protecting the integrity of a document that claims the ability to detect, locate, and correct tampering. If determining integrity is only part of the problem, then a more general notion of data integrity is needed. Furthermore, in the presence of a persistent tamperer, the problem is more concerned with maintaining and proving the integrity of data, rather than determining it. This thesis introduces a formal model for the more general notion of data integrity by providing a formal problem semantics for its sub-problems: detection, location, correction, and prevention. The model is used to reason about the structure of the data integrity problem and to prove some fundamental results concerning the security and existence of schemes that attempt to solve these sub-problems. Ashman's original multi-layered document integrity (MLDI) paper [1] is critically evaluated, and several issues are highlighted. These issues are investigated in detail, and a series of algorithms are developed to present the MLDI schemes. Several factors that determine the feasibility of Ashman's approach are identified in order to prove certain theoretical results concerning the efficacy of MLDI schemes.

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