On bounding problems of quantitative information flow
Journal of Computer Security
Researchers have proposed formal definitions of quantitative information flow based on information theoretic notions such as the Shannon entropy, the min entropy, the guessing entropy, and channel capacity. This paper investigates the hardness of precisely checking the quantitative information flow of a program according to such definitions. More precisely, we study the "bounding problem" of quantitative information flow, defined as follows: Given a program M and a positive real number q,
... eal number q, decide if the quantitative information flow of M is less than or equal to q. We prove that the bounding problem is not a k-safety property for any k (even when q is fixed, for the Shannon-entropy-based definition with the uniform distribution), and therefore is not amenable to the self-composition technique that has been successfully applied to checking non-interference. We also prove complexity theoretic hardness results for the case when the program is restricted to loop-free boolean programs. Specifically, we show that the problem is PP-hard for all the definitions, showing a gap with non-interference which is coNP-complete for the same class of programs. The paper also compares the results with the recently proved results on the comparison problems of quantitative information flow.