Monday, 25 July 2016

How to Stay Anonymous Online

Anonymous Online
Credit:MIT News

New Privacy Pattern – Strong Security Guarantees


Privacy networks tend to guard individuals living under exploitive regimes from scrutiny of the Internet usage. However from recent discovery of susceptibilities in most of the well-known networks, Tor has urged computer scientists in endeavouring to come up with more secured privacy patterns. In July, at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne will be presenting a new privacy pattern which would offer strong security guarantees though will use bandwidth more efficiently than its ancestors.

In tests, the systems of the researchers needed only one-tenth as much time just like secure experimental systems in transferring a large file between unidentified users. Albert Kwon, a graduate scholar in electrical engineering and computer science and first author on the new paper, said that the initial use case that they thought of was to do anonymous file-sharing where the receiving end and sending end do not know each other.

The reason was that things like honeypotting, where spies tend to offer services through an anonymity network in order to entrap its users, are a real issue. However they have also studied applications in microblogging, something like Twitter, where one would want to secretly broadcast your messages to everyone.

Heart of System – Sequence of Servers - Mixnet


The system invented by Kwon and his co-authors, his advisor, Srini Devadas, the Edwin Sibley Webster Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, David Lazar, a graduate student too in electrical engineering and computer science together with Bryan Ford SM `02 PhD’08, an associate professor of computer and communication sciences at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanneworks on many prevailing cryptographic techniques though connects them in a novel way.

The heart of the system is a sequence of servers called a mixnet wherein each server tends permutes the order where it receives messages before it is passed on to the next. If messages from Sender Alice, Bob and Carol tend to reach the first server in the order A, B, C that server would send them to the second server in an altered order like C, B, A. The second server would permute them before sending them to the third and so on. The message that had been tracked from the point of origin, by an opponent would not know which was which by the time they had exited from the latest server

The New System – Riffle


It is this reshuffling of the messages which is said to be named – Riffle, for the new system. Similar to several privacy systems, Riffle tends to also use a technique known as onion encryption – Tor, in which case is an abbreviation for `the onion router’.

In the case of onion encryption, the sending computer tends to wrap each message in many films of encryption utilising a public key encryption system such as those that tend to protect most of the online financial transactions. Each of the servers in the mixnet seems to remove only one layer of encryption so that last server only knows the final destination of the message.

To prevent message tampering, Riffle tends to use a system known as verifiable shuffle. Due to the onion encryption, the messages which each server seems to forwards do not look like the one it received, it has peeled off a layer of encryption. However the encryption could be done in a way which the server would generate a mathematical proof which the messages it sends seems valid operations of the ones receiving it.

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