Risk
4/19/2010
05:01 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Secure P2P Scheme Leverages Social Networks

Anonymous and unobservable IM and VoIP could be possible under a proposed network architecture called Drac.

Security researchers from Microsoft, The Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and elsewhere are proposing a novel approach to secure, anonymous instant messaging and voice-over-IP communication that turns the conventional wisdom about social networking privacy on its head.

Drac is a peer-to-peer communication system designed to make IM and VoIP traffic anonymous and unobservable. It achieves this goal by exposing the social connections of the users who make up the nodes of the peer-to-peer network.

"Drac gives away the identity of a user's friends to guarantee the unobservability of actual calls, while still providing anonymity when talking to trusted third parties," explains a paper on the proposed technology.

The paper, "Drac: An Architecture for Anonymous Low-Volume Communications," will be presented at the The 10th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS 2010) in Berlin, Germany in July.

The paper was written by George Danezis, from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, Claudia Diaz and Carmela Troncoso at The Catholic University of Leuven (K.U. Leuven), and Ben Laurie, a computer security researcher.

The authors note that while anonymous online communication may conceal the content of conversations, information about the network addressing, the timing of the messages, and the volume of traffic often reveals as much as the hidden correspondence.

Drac aims to preserve anonymity while also thwarting traffic analysis by using a peer-to-peer relay architecture that routes data through social networking connections.

The Drac system envisions a network of friends who have a strong trust relationship and who share cryptographic keys to maintain secure communication links. Their social networking connections become the possible network data paths for Drac messaging.

In addition, Drac allows users to communicate with contacts outside their network. But while social network connections in Drac are public, contacts sending or receiving messages to or from the network are concealed.

The authors argue that relaying messages over a friend-of-a-friend network makes denial-of-service and related attacks less likely, does not require a central server or trust infrastructure, and avoids network discovery and random sampling attacks that affect other peer-to-peer systems.

The system is not without drawbacks: network paths over social networks tend to be longer, the authors observe, and knowledge of participants' social network connections may be undesirable in some contexts.

The Drac system has been implemented in a limited software simulator, the code for which the authors intend to make available on request. It's merely proof-of-concept code and Drac will have to be refined further before it emerges as a functional product.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2009-5027
Published: 2014-12-26
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2010-2062. Reason: This candidate is a reservation duplicate of CVE-2010-2062. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2010-2062 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to pre...

CVE-2010-1441
Published: 2014-12-26
Multiple heap-based buffer overflows in VideoLAN VLC media player before 1.0.6 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted byte stream to the (1) A/52, (2) DTS, or (3) MPEG Audio decoder.

CVE-2010-1442
Published: 2014-12-26
VideoLAN VLC media player before 1.0.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (invalid memory access and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted byte stream to the (1) AVI, (2) ASF, or (3) Matroska (aka MKV) demuxer.

CVE-2010-1443
Published: 2014-12-26
The parse_track_node function in modules/demux/playlist/xspf.c in the XSPF playlist parser in VideoLAN VLC media player before 1.0.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and application crash) via an empty location element in an XML Shareable Playlist Format...

CVE-2010-1444
Published: 2014-12-26
The ZIP archive decompressor in VideoLAN VLC media player before 1.0.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (invalid memory access and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted archive.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.