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Manual of UKano v0.3

Lucca Hirschi

UKano is a modified version of the ProVerif tool including automatic verification of anonymity and unlinkability of 2-agents protocols. See references HBD17 & HBD16 given below for more details on the underlying theory.


You need OCaml >=3.00 (you can find Objective Caml at Just type: make. The executable program ukano and proverif have been built.

You can also build UKano only by typing make ukano. UKano needs an exectuable of ProVerif though. We recommend using the version shipped with UKano but one can specify the path some ProVerif executable with the option --proverif <path>. Warning: if one wants to use its own ProVerif executable, then one needs a version '>1.97' patched with the 'biproj.patch' in 'proverif1.97' folder of the repository,

Quick Test

To quickly test the tool on our case studies: build it, choose an example in the examples folder (e.g., ./examples/Feldhofer/feldhofer.pi) and type ./ukano <path-example>.

To test the tool against examples with known expected conclusions, you can also type make test.



To run UKano on a protocol written in filename (compliant with ProVerif typed format, see Section Expected Format for more details of this format), use

./ukano <filename>

The tool describes the main steps it follows and concludes whether unlinkability and anonymity could be established or not.

How it works?

We have proved in HBD17 (preliminary versions in HBD16 and H17) that, for 2-party protocols, unlinkability and anonmyity follow from two sufficent conditions we called Frame Opacity (FO) and Well-Authentication (WA). We also show how to verify those two conditions relying on dedicated encodings. UKAno mechanizes all those encodings.

After parsing your file, the tool creates two other files in the same directory. Each file encodes one of our two sufficient conditions. The one encoding FO is suffixed with _FOpa.pi. The second suffixed with _WAuth.pi can be used to check WA. The latter contains a query per conditional. UKano then launches proverif on those two files and parse the results in order to conclude whether both conditions have been established. In such a case, the tool concludes that the input protocol ensures unlinkability and anonymity.

The folder ./examples/ contains some ProVerif files in the expected format (e.g., ./examples/Feldhofer/feldhofer.pi). They can be used as a starting point to write your own protocols.


Here are the options you may use:

$ ./ukano --help
UKano v0.2 : Cryptographic privacy verifier, by Lucca Hirschi. Based on Proverif v1.91, by Bruno 
Blanchet and Vincent Cheval.
  --proverif            path of the ProVerif executable to use (optional, default: './proverif')
  --ideal-no-check      assume the idealisation is conform (requires manual checks)
  --ideal-automatic     do not take given idealisations into account, generate them automatically instead (using the default quasi-syntaxic heuristic)
  --ideal-semantic      modifies the idealisation heuristic: put fresh names for all non-tuple sub-terms
  --ideal-syntaxic      modifies the idealisation heuristic: go through all functions (including ones in equations) and replace identity names and let variables by holes. Conformity checks are modified accordingly.
  --only-fo             verifies the frame opacity condition only
  --only-wa             verifies the well-authentication condition only
  --fo-with-let         verifies the frame opacity condition using old encodings based on nested 'let' constructs 
  --clean               remove generated files after successful verification
  --less-verbose        reduce the verbosity
  --log-proverif        log in stdout all ProVerif outputs
  -gc                   display gc statistics

Some options are described in the next section.

Idealisations Heuristics

We now describe the heuristic UKano uses by default to guess idealisations automatically (corresponding to the quasi-syntaxic heuristic from HBD17). Given a syntactic output u in some role, we recursively build an idealisation by case analysis on u:

  1. a constant, we let u be its idealisation
  2. a session name, we let u be its idealisation
  3. a name that is not a session name, we let a new session name be its idealisation (but two occurrences of the same name will be idealised with the same session name)
  4. a variable bind by an input, we let u be its idealisation
  5. variable bind by a let, we let a fresh session name be its idealisation (but two occurrences of the same variable will be idealised with the same session name)
  6. u=f(u1,...,un), vi are idealisations of ui and f does not occur in equations then we let f(v1,...,vn) be the idealisation of u
  7. u=f(u1,...,un) and f does occur in equations then we let a fresh session name be the idealisation of u

The options --ideal-semantic and --ideal-syntaxic allow to modify the above heuristic:

  • --ideal-semantic replaces the cases 6. and 7. as follows: when f is not a tuple then the idealisation is a fresh session name, otherwise we proceed as in 6.
  • --ideal-syntaxic removes the case 7 and removes the condition "f does not occur in equations " in case 6. In case the protocol is in the shared case, UKano then displays a warning message saying that the user should verify WA item (ii) separately.

UKano checks the conformity of guessed idealisations as well as idealisations given by the user. Those checks can be bypassed using the option --ideal-no-check.

The option --ideal-automatic makes UKano bypass idealisations given in input files and automatically guess idealisations instead.

Expected Format

Only typed ProVerif files are accepted (proverif should successfully parse it when using the option -in pitype). Please refer to the manual of ProVerif on the Proverif webpage. Additionally, the file should not define new types and only use types bitstring and channel. The file must declare at least one channel c (i.e., contains a line free c:channel.).

After the definition of the equational theory (without any declaration of events), the inputted file should contain a commentary:

       (* ==PROTOCOL== *)

and then define only one process corresponding to the whole multiple sessions system. This process should satisfy the syntactical restrictions described in HBD17. However, multiple tests (conditional or evaluation) can be performed in a row between an input and an output if the corresponding else branches are the same. You can also use most of syntactical sugars allowed by ProVerif (e.g., modular definitions through definitions of functions and call, etc.). Finally, to check anonymity as well, identity names to be revealed (and only them) must have id as prefix (e.g., idName).

Improve Precision

Note that, currently, UKano does not detect safe conditionals and consider all conditionals unsafe by default. UKano lists conditionals for which WA could not be established. You should check that they correspond to safe conditionals.

If the tool cannot guess idealisations of outputs (to check frame opacity), you can play with the options described in Section Idealisations Heuristics or compute them manually and add it to the file as explained next.

Output messages that cannot be guessed automatically should be of the form: choice[u,uh] where u is the real message outputted by the protocol and uh is the idealised message. If you define in the equational theory a constant hole (by adding this line: free hole:bitstring.) then all hole will be replaced by fresh and pairwise distinct session names.

Finally, when frame opacity cannot be checked directly, it is sometimes possible to make ProVerif prove it just by slightly modifying the file without altering the underlying protocol (for instance, by moving creation of names).

Our Case Studies

We list all our case studies in the next section and provide benchmarks in section Benchmarks.

Finally, note that for some protocols, specific idealisations heuristics are needed as explained in the dedicated section. We also list in section Benchmarks the different results (conclusion and time needed to conclude) one obtains depending on the chosen heuristic.

List of Case Studies

See the table below. References to the protocols can be found in [HBD17] and models that can be fed to UKano can be found in the folder ./examples.


  • :white_check_mark: : means that the corresponding condition or property could be automaticaly established using UKano
  • :x: : when a condition fails to hold or could not be established
  • :fire: : when an attack has been found
Protocol Frame-Opacity Well-Authentication Unlinkability
Hash-Lock :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
LAK (stateless) -- :x: :fire:
Fixed LAK :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
BAC :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
BAC+ PA+ AA :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
BAC+ AA+ PA :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
PACE (faillible dec) -- :x: :fire:
PACE (as in~BFK-09) -- :x: :fire:
PACE -- :x: :fire:
PACE with tags :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
DAA sign :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
DAA join :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:
abcdh (irma) :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark: :white_check_mark:


All benchmarks are performed using UKano v0.3 (with ProVerif v1.97 as backend) without user-defined idealisations (except for some cases indicated with (*)). For most cases, the verification is thus truly fully automatic.

Here are the specs of the machine we used:

  • OS: Linux sume 3.10-2-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.10.5-1 (2013-08-07) x86_64 GNU/Linux
  • CPU: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5650 @ 2.67GHz / stepping: 2 / microcode: 0x13 / cpu MHz: 2659.937 / cache size: 12288 KB
  • RAM: 47GO

Legend: time in seconds when verification was successful, :x: when condition could not be established, :curly_loop: when the verification took too much time (>20 hours) or too much memory (>20GO of RAM), and, -- when it was not necessary to build idealisations manually (i.e., user defined). The different columns for FO (i.e., frame opacity) refers to the different heuristics implemented in UKano to build idealisations:

  • "semantic" corresponds to the option --ideal-semantic
  • "default" corresponds to the default heuristic of UKano (quasi-syntaxic in [HBD17])
  • "syntaxic" corresponds to the option --ideal-syntaxic
  • "user-defined" when a user-defined idealisation was given to the tool.
Protocol Best time (total) Time for WA Time for FO (semantic) Time for FO (default) Time for FO (syntaxic) Time for FO (user-defined)
Hash-Lock 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s --
Fixed LAK 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s --
BAC 0.03s 0.02s 0.01s 0.04s 0.04s --
BAC+AA+PA 0.46s 0.42s 0.04s 0.22s 0.22s --
BAC+PA+AA 0.40s 0.36s 0.04s 0.52s 0.50s --
PACE with tags 78.40s 72.40s 6.00s 6.19s 16.44s --
DAA simplified [HBD17] 0.02s 0.01s :x: 0.01s 0.01s --
DAA sign 3.77s 0.03s :x: :x: :x: 3.74s
DAA join 31.81s 29.57s* :x: 1.24s 2.29s 1.79s
abcdh (irma) 9072.75s 9060s* :x: :x: 38.20s 12.75s

(*) indicates that we had to slightly modify the produced file, refer to HBD17 for more details.

We also report on the table below the time needed to find an attack (on well-authentication):

Protocol Time to find an attack in WA
PACE (faillible dec) 31.81s
PACE (as in BFK-09) 61.43s
PACE 83.72s


[HBD17]: L. Hirschi, D. Baelde and S. Delaune. A method for unbounded verification of privacy-type properties (journal paper under submission). A copy is available at

[H17]: L. Hirschi. PhD Thesis. Automated Verification of Privacy in Security Protocols: Back and Forth Between Theory & Practice. A copy is available at

[HBD16]: L. Hirschi, D. Baelde and S. Delaune. A Method for Verifying Privacy-Type Properties : The Unbounded Case. In IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (Oakland), 2016. To appear. A copy can be found at

[BFK-09]: J. Bender, M. Fischlin, and D. Kügler. Security analysis of the pace key-agreement protocol. In Information Security, pages 33–48. Springer, 2009.

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