UTCS Colloquia - Bryan Ford, Yale University, "Scalable Traffic Analysis Resistant Anonymity in Dissent," ACE 2.402

Contact Name: 
Vitaly Shmatikov
ACE 2.402
Nov 16, 2012 11:00am - 12:00pm

Signup Schedule: http://apps.cs.utexas.edu/talkschedules/cgi/list_events.cgi

Event/Talk Title: "Scalable Traffic Analysis Resistant Anonymity in Dissent"

Speaker Name: Bryan Ford

Speaker Affiliation: Yale University

UTCS Host: Vitaly Shmatikov

Audience:Faculty, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Outside Interested Parties

Anonymity plays a fundamental in both Internet tradition and free societies in general, but all practical anonymous communication protocols currently use point-to-point relaying methods vulnerable to traffic analysis and disruption attacks.  The fundamentally distinct "Dining Cryptographers" or DC-nets approach to anonymity has long held appeal for its provable resistance to traffic analysis, but its utility has been hampered by scalability and robustness challenges, and by vulnerabilities to anonymous disruption and intersection attacks.  The Dissent project at Yale is the first practical DC-nets system offering large, formally quantifiable anonymity sets.  By adopting a decentralized multi-provider cloud deployment model, Dissent scales to anonymity sets of thousands of users - two orders
of magnitude larger than prior DC-nets designs - and tolerates dynamic churn and liveness attacks by clients.  Dissent also makes participation "accountable", so that DC-net groups can reliably identify and expel anonymous disruptors, or prevent them from disrupting communication in the first place.  In ongoing work, we are developing the first systematic approach to handling long-term intersection attacks in anonymous forums where users maintain long-lived sessions or pseudonyms.  These advances promise to make quantifiable and provable anonymity against powerful adversaries achievable in practice for the first time.
Bryan Ford leads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DeDiS) group at Yale University, where his research touches on many areas including secure and certified OS kernels, parallel and distributed computing, security and privacy, and Internet architecture.  He has received the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI for his recent work, and multiple grants from NSF, DARPA, and ONR, including the NSF CAREER award.  His pedagogical achievements include PIOS, the first OS course framework leading students through development of a working, native multiprocessor OS kernel.  Prof. Ford earned his B.S. at the University of Utah and his Ph.D. at MIT, while
researching topics including mobile device naming and routing, virtualization, microkernel architectures, and touching on programming languages and formal methods.