CS Department Seminar: Micah Sherr (UPenn)
March 12, 2010
Title: Extensible Anonymity
Speaker: Micah Sherr (University of Pennsylvania)
Time: Friday, Mar 12, 11:00
Location: Babbio 104
Today's Internet routing protocols, while arguably robust and efficient, are not designed to support private communication. Although applications may encrypt packet payloads to conceal message contents, packet headers must specify accurate destination addresses (for packets to be routable) and truthful source information (to achieve reliability), consequently revealing the identities of the communicating parties. Anonymity systems provide additional privacy by relaying messages through a series of application-layer routers spread across the Internet, making it more difficult for eavesdroppers to determine the true endpoints of communication. Uses of anonymity systems include censorship-resistant access to online information, anonymous blogging and message posting, private browsing, the obfuscation of network control infrastructures, and undercover law enforcement sting operations.
A significant challenge of designing anonymity systems is the development of routing protocols that ensure privacy while providing an acceptable level of communication performance. While there have been several attempts at providing anonymity with the use of application-level overlay networks, existing solutions focus almost exclusively on maximizing anonymity, typically at the expense of performance.
In this talk, I present the design and implementation of Application-Aware Anonymity (A3), an extensible anonymity architecture that allows applications to intelligently tradeoff between anonymity and performance. A3 produces anonymous paths that conform to multiple application-specified communication constraints (e.g., end-to-end bandwidth, latency, jitter, loss, etc.), enabling the anonymization of network applications with real-time requirements (for example, voice-over-IP and streaming video). Applying techniques from the distributed systems and databases communities, A3 utilizes a declarative policy language, permitting applications to concisely specify a myriad of routing requirements and protocols in a few lines of code. Simulation results using network traces as well as empirical measurements from our PlanetLab implementation demonstrate A3's ability to efficiently produce paths with configurable performance, anonymity, and security properties.
Dr. Micah Sherr is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Professors Matt Blaze and Boon Thau Loo. His academic interests include privacy-preserving technologies, e-voting security, eavesdropping and wiretap systems, operating system security, network and protocol security, and network intrusion detection.