Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Computer Science


Computer Science

Major Advisor

Dianxiang Xu, Ph.D.


Jyh-haw Yeh, Ph.D.


Jidong Xiao, Ph.D.


In the advent of the digital transformation, online business processes need to be automated and modeled as workflows. A workflow typically involves a sequence of coordinated tasks and shared data that need to be secured and protected from unauthorized access. In other words, a workflow can be described simply as the movement of documents and activities through a business process among different users. Such connected flow of information among various users with different permission level offers many benefits along with new challenges. Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated as skilled and motivated attackers both insiders and outsiders are equipped with advanced and diverse penetration tools and techniques. So apart from standard functional requirements, security is a critical requirement for such systems. We need to have a new approach to more secure design, configuration, implementation and management of workflow systems. In this paper, we propose a new software design model when developing a workflow system that inherently decouples the system level functional requirements from the security specifications. This externalization of authorization from the code makes it more flexible to support dynamic business agility. Moreover, the proposed model is combined with contextual information to accommodate dynamic access control enforcement. The given architecture provides outstanding levels of control, security, privacy and compliance with regulatory standards by using more fine-grained static as well as dynamic Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) policies. We also develop a viable implementation called Grant Proposal Workflow Management System (GPWFMS) that supports not only functional and security specifications of workflow but also extended complex features like Obligations and Delegation of Authority which is lacking in the much existing literature.