The Tamarin prover is a powerful tool for the symbolic modeling and analysis of security protocols. It takes as input a security protocol model, specifying the actions taken by agents running the protocol in different roles (e.g., the protocol initiator, the responder, and the trusted key server), a specification of the adversary, and a specification of the protocol’s desired properties. Tamarin can then be used to automatically construct a proof that, even when arbitrarily many instances of the protocol’s roles are interleaved in parallel, together with the actions of the adversary, the protocol fulfils its specified properties. In this manual, we provide an overview of this tool and its use.

Tamarin provides general support for modeling and reasoning about security protocols. Protocols and adversaries are specified using an expressive language based on multiset rewriting rules. These rules define a labeled transition system whose state consists of a symbolic representation of the adversary’s knowledge, the messages on the network, information about freshly generated values, and the protocol’s state. The adversary and the protocol interact by updating network messages and generating new messages. Tamarin also supports the equational specification of some cryptographic operators, such as Diffie-Hellman exponentiation and bilinear pairings. Security properties are modeled as trace properties, checked against the traces of the transition system, or in terms of the observational equivalence of two transition systems.

Tamarin provides two ways of constructing proofs. It has an efficient, fully automated mode that combines deduction and equational reasoning with heuristics to guide proof search. If the tool’s automated proof search terminates, it returns either a proof of correctness (for an unbounded number of role instances and fresh values) or a counterexample, representing an attack that violates the stated property. However, since the correctness of security protocols is an undecidable problem, the tool may not terminate on a given verification problem. Hence, users may need to resort to Tamarin’s interactive mode to explore the proof states, inspect attack graphs, and seamlessly combine manual proof guidance with automated proof search.

A formal treatment of Tamarin’s foundations is given in the theses of (Schmidt 2012) and (Meier 2012). We give just a brief (technical) summary here. For an equational theory \(E\) defining cryptographic operators, a multiset rewriting system \(R\) defining a protocol, and a formula \(\phi\) defining a trace property, Tamarin can either check the validity or the satisfiability of \(\phi\) for the traces of \(R\) modulo \(E\). As usual, validity checking is reduced to checking the satisfiability of the negated formula. Here, constraint solving is used to perform an exhaustive, symbolic search for executions with satisfying traces. The states of the search are constraint systems. For example, a constraint can express that some multiset rewriting step occurs in an execution or that one step occurs before another step. We can also directly use formulas as constraints to express that some behavior does not occur in an execution. Applications of constraint reduction rules, such as simplifications or case distinctions, correspond to the incremental construction of a satisfying trace. If no further rules can be applied and no satisfying trace was found, then no satisfying trace exists. For symbolic reasoning, we exploit the finite variant property (Comon-Lundh and Delaune 2005) to reduce reasoning modulo \(E\) with respect to \(R\) to reasoning modulo \(AC\) with respect to the variants of \(R\).

This manual is written for researchers and practitioners who wish to use Tamarin to model and analyze security protocols. We assume the reader is familiar with basic cryptography and the basic workings of security protocols. Our focus is on explaining Tamarin’s usage so that a new user can download, install, and use the system. We do not attempt to describe Tamarin’s formal foundations and refer the reader to the related theses and scientific papers for these details.


In practice, the Tamarin tool has proven to be highly successful. It features support for trace and observational equivalence properties, automatic and interactive modes, and has built-in support for equational theories such as the one modeling Diffie-Hellman Key exchanges. It supports a (limited) form of induction, and efficiently parallelizes its proof search. It has been applied to numerous protocols from different domains including:

Organization and Contents of the Manual

In the next Section Installation we describe how to install Tamarin. First-time users are then recommended to read Section First Example which describes a simple protocol analysis in detail, but without technicalities. Then, we systematically build up the technical background a user needs, by first presenting the cryptographic messages in Section Cryptographic Messages, followed by two different possible modeling approaches in Sections 5 and 6, covering Protocol Specification using Rules and Protocol Specification using Processes. Property specification is then covered in Section Property Specification.

We then continue with information on precomputation in Section Precomputation and possible modeling issues in Section Modeling Issues. Afterwards, advanced features for experienced users are described in Section Advanced Features. We have a list of completed case studies in Section Case Studies. Alternative input toolchains are described in Section Toolchains. Limitations are described in Section Limitations. We conclude the manual with contact information and further reading in Contact Information and Further Reading.


Tamarin Prover Manual, by The Tamarin Team. Copyright © 2016.

This written work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You may reproduce and edit this work with attribution for all non-commercial purposes.


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