AdaCore Blog

An Insight Into the AdaCore Ecosystem

by Paul Butcher

Join us at the High Integrity Software (HIS) Conference 2022!

After two years of virtual events, we are very happy to report that the High Integrity Software Conference (HIS) will be making a physical comeback on Tuesday 11th October 2022 at the Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre, Bristol, UK. Since 2014, AdaCore has been co-organising the event with Capgemini Engineering (previously known as Altran Technologies, SA). The success and growth of the conference have ensured it remains a regular fixture for returning delegates, and the exciting lineup for this year's event will ensure HIS 2022 is no exception!

by Quentin Ochem , Florian Gilcher

AdaCore and Ferrous Systems Joining Forces to Support Rust

For over 25 years, AdaCore has been committed to supporting the needs of safety- and mission-critical industries. This started with an emphasis on the Ada programming language and its toolchain, and over the years has been extended to many other technologies. AdaCore’s product offerings today include support for the Ada language and its formally verifiable SPARK subset, C and C++, and Simulink and Stateflow models. We have accomplished this while addressing the requirements of various safety standards such as DO-178B/C, EN 50128, ECSS-E-ST-40C / ECSS-Q-ST-80C, IEC 61508 and ISO 26262.

by Yannick Moy

When the RISC-V ISA is the Weakest Link

NVIDIA has been using SPARK for some time now to develop safety- and security-critical firmware applications. At the recent DEF CON 29, hackers Zabrocki and Matrosov presented how they went about attacking NVIDIA firmware written in SPARK but ended up attacking the RISC-V ISA instead!Zabrocki starts by explaining the context for their red teaming exercise at NVIDIA, followed by a description of SPARK and their evaluation of the language from a security attack perspective. He shows how they used an extension of Ghidra to decompile the binary code generated by GNAT and describes the vulnerability they identified in the RISC-V ISA thanks to that decompilation. Matrosov goes on to explain how they glitched the NVIDIA chip to exploit this vulnerability. Finally, Zabrocki talks about projects used to harden RISC-V platforms.

#Security    #SPARK    #RISC-V   

by Jessie Glockner

Celebrating Women Engineering Heroes - International Women in Engineering Day 2021

Women make up roughly 38% of the global workforce, yet they constitute only 10–20% of the engineering workforce. In the U.S., numbers suggest that 40% of women who graduate with engineering degrees never enter the profession or eventually leave it. Why? The reasons vary but primarily involve socio-economic constraints on women in general, workplace inequities, and lack of support for work-life balance. Sadly, history itself has often failed to properly acknowledge the instrumental contributions of women inventors, scientists, and mathematicians who have helped solve some of our world's toughest challenges. How can young women emulate their successes if they don't even know about them?

by Jessie Glockner , Ben Brosgol

The FACE™ open systems strategy gaining traction in the avionics industry

The FACE™ approach is a government-industry initiative for reducing defense system life cycle costs through portable and reusable software components. It consists of a technical approach — a software standard based on well-defined common interfaces — and a business strategy for encouraging the development and deployment of FACE conformant products.

#FACE    #Ada   

by Allan Ascanius , Per Dalgas Jakobsen

Winning DTU RoboCup with Ada and SPARK

The Danish Technical University has a yearly RoboCup where autonomous vehicles solve a number of challenges. We participated with RoadRunner, a 3D printed robot with wheel suspension, based on the BeagleBone Blue ARM-based board and the Pixy 1 camera with custom firmware enabling real-time line detection. Code is written in Ada and formally proved correct with SPARK at Silver level.

#Robotics    #Ada    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

​Amazon Relies on Formal Methods for the Security of AWS

Byron Cook, who founded and leads the Automated Reasoning Group at Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security, gave a powerful talk at the Federated Logic Conference in July about how Amazon uses formal methods for ensuring the security of parts of AWS infrastructure. In the past four years, this group of 20+ has progressively hired well-known formal methods experts to face the growing demand inside AWS to develop tools based on formal verification for reasoning about cloud security. What is unique so far is the level of investment at AWS in formal verification as a means to radically eliminate some security problems, both for them and for their customers. This is certainly an approach we're eager to support with our own investment in the SPARK technology​.

#Formal Verification    #Cloud    #Security   

by Yannick Moy

Security Agency Uses SPARK for Secure USB Key

​ANSSI, the French national security agency, has published the results of their work since 2014 on designing and implementing an open-hardware & open-source USB key that provides defense-in-depth against vulnerabilities on the USB hardware, architecture, protocol and software stack. In this project called WooKey, Ada and SPARK are key components for the security of the platform. This is a very compelling demontration of both the usability and the power of safe languages and formal verification to develop secure systems.

#SPARK    #Security    #Formal Methods   

by Yannick Moy

Two Days Dedicated to Sound Static Analysis for Security

​AdaCore has been working with CEA, Inria and NIST to organize a two-days event dedicated to sound static analysis techniques and tools, and how they are used to increase the security of software-based systems. The program gathers top-notch experts in the field, from industry, government agencies and research institutes, around the three themes of analysis of legacy code, use in new developments and accountable software quality. Here is why it is worth attending.

#SPARK    #Frama-C    #Security    #Formal Methods    #Static Analysis   

by Yannick Moy

Secure Software Architectures Based on Genode + SPARK

​SPARK user Alexander Senier presented recently at BOB Konferenz​ in Germany their use of SPARK for building secure mobile architectures. What's nice is that they build on the guarantees that SPARK provides at software level to create a secure software architecture based on the Genode operating system framework​. They present 3 interesting architectural designs that make it possible to build a trustworthy system out of untrustworthy building blocks. Almost as exciting as Alchemy's goal of transforming lead into gold! Here is the video of that presentation.

#SPARK    #Mobile    #Security   

by Jamie Ayre

Welcoming New Members to the GNAT Pro Family

As we see the importance of software grow in applications, the quality of that software has become more and more important. Even outside the mission- and safety-critical arena customers are no longer accepting software failures (the famous blue screens of death, and there are many...). Ada has a very strong answer here and we are seeing more and more interest in using the language from a range of industries. It is for this reason that we have completed our product line by including an entry-level offer for C/C++ developers wanting to switch to Ada and reinforced our existing offer with GNAT Pro Assurance for programmers building the most robust software platforms with life cycles spanning decades.

#GNAT Pro    #Ada   

by Yannick Moy

Research Corner - Focused Certification of SPARK in Coq

The SPARK toolset aims at giving guarantees to its users about the properties of the software analyzed, be it absence of runtime errors or more complex properties. But the SPARK toolset being itself a complex tool, it is not free of errors. To get confidence in its results, we have worked with academic partners to establish mathematical evidence of the correctness of a critical part of the SPARK toolset. The part on which we focused is the tagging of nodes requiring run-time checks by the frontend of the SPARK technology. This work has been accepted at SEFM 2017 conference.


by Yannick Moy

Research Corner - FLOSS Glider Software in SPARK

Two years ago, we redeveloped the code of a small quadcopter called Crazyflie in SPARK, as a proof-of-concept to show it was possible to prove absence of run-time errors (no buffer overflows, not division by zero, etc.) on such code. The researchers Martin Becker and Emanuel Regnath have raised the bar by developing the code for the autopilot of a small glider in SPARK in three months only. Their paper and slides are available, and they have released their code as FLOSS for others to use/modify/enhance!

#Formal Verification    #Dev Projects    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

VerifyThis Challenge in SPARK

This year again, the VerifyThis competition took place as part of ETAPS conferences. This is the occasion for builders and users of formal program verification platforms to use their favorite tools on common challenges. The first challenge this year was a good fit for SPARK, as it revolves around proving properties of an imperative sorting procedure. In this post, I am using this challenge to show how one can reach different levels of software assurance with SPARK.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

Rod Chapman on Software Security

Rod Chapman gave an impactful presentation at Bristech conference last year. His subject: programming Satan's computer! His way of pointing out how difficult it is to produce secure software. Of course, it would not be Rod Chapman if he did not have also a few hints at how they have done it at Altran UK over the years. And SPARK is central to this solution, although it does not get mentioned explicitly in the talk! (although Rod lifts the cover in answering a question at the end)

#Security    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

New Year's Resolution for 2017: Use SPARK, Say Goodbye to Bugs

​NIST has recently published a report called "Dramatically Reducing Software Vulnerabilities"​ in which they single out five approaches which have the potential for creating software with 100 times fewer vulnerabilities than we do today. One of these approaches is formal methods. Among formal methods, the report highlights strong suits of SPARK, and cites SPARK projects as example of mature uses of formal methods. NIST is not the only ones to support the use of SPARK. Editor Bill Wong from Electronic Design has included SPARK in his "2016 Gifts for the Techie". So if your new year's resolutions include software without bugs, have a look at SPARK in 2017.

#VerificationTools    #Formal Methods    #SPARK   

by Yannick Moy

Verified, Trustworthy Code with SPARK and Frama-C

Last week, a few of us at AdaCore have attended a one-day workshop organized at Thales Research and Technologies, around the topic of "Verified, trustworthy code - formal verification of software". Attendees from many different branches of Thales (avionics, railway, security, networks) were given an overview of the state-of-practice in formal verification of software, focused on two technologies: the SPARK technology that we develop at AdaCore for programs in Ada, and the Frama-C technology developed at CEA research labs for programs in C. The most interesting part of the day was the feedback given by three operational teams who have experimented during a few months with either SPARK (two teams) or Frama-C (one team). The lessons learned by first-time adopters of such technologies are quite valuable.

#SPARK    #Formal Methods   

by Yannick Moy

A Building Code for Building Code

In a recent article in Communications of the ACM, Carl Landwehr, a renowned scientific expert on security, defends the view that the software engineering community is doing overall a poor job at securing our global information system and that this is mostly avoidable by putting what we know works to work, to the point that most vulnerabilities could be completely avoided by design if we cared enough. Shocking! Or so it should appear.

#Ada    #SPARK    #Static Analysis    #Security   

by Yannick Moy

Using SPARK to Prove AoRTE in Robot Navigation Software

Correctness of robot software is a challenge. Just proving the absence of run-time errors (AoRTE) in robot software is a challenge big enough that even NASA has not solved it. Researchers have used SPARK to do precisely that for 3 well-known robot navigation algorithms. Their results will be presented at the major robotics conference IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014) this coming September.

#Formal Verification    #SPARK    #Robotics   

by Yannick Moy

Use of SPARK in a Certification Context

Using SPARK or any other formal method in a certification requires that the applicant agrees with the certification authority on the verification objectives that this use of formal methods allows to reach, and how this is obtained and documented. In order to facilitate this process, the participants to the workshop on Theorem Proving in Certification have produced a draft set of guidelines, now publicly available.

#Formal Verification    #Certification   

by Yannick Moy

Case Study for System to Software Integrity Includes SPARK 2014

My colleague Matteo Bordin will present at the upcoming Embedded Real Time Software and Systems conference in Toulouse in February a case study showing how formal verification with SPARK can be included in a larger process to show preservation of properties from the system level down to the software level. The case study is based on the Nose Gear challenge from the Workshop on Theorem Proving in Certification.

#Formal Verification    #Certification    #SPARK