Charles River Crypto Day – Building Anonymous Messaging Systems that ‘Hide the Metadata’

Date

February 25, 2015

Speaker

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs

Affiliation

Stanford University

Overview

Encryption can protect the contents of a message being sent over an open network. In many situations, though, hiding the contents of a communication is not enough: parties to a conversation want to conceal the fact that they ever communicated. In this talk, I will explain how anonymity-preserving messaging systems can help ‘hide the metadata’ pertaining to a conversation and I will survey the state of the art in anonymous messaging protocols. A limitation of existing protocols is that they exhibit computation and communication costs that scale linearly with the number of users (i.e., the anonymity set size) or they require expensive zero-knowledge proofs. In recent work, we have designed Riposte, a new system for anonymous messaging that applies private-information-retrieval and secure multi-party computation techniques to circumvent these limitations. An implementation and experimental evaluation of Riposte demonstrates that, for latency-tolerant applications, the system can provide near-ideal anonymity for groups of millions of users—two orders of magnitude more than current systems support. I will conclude the talk with a discussion of open problems and directions for future work. Joint work with: Dan Boneh and David Mazières.

Speakers

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs is a PhD student in the department of computer science at Stanford. Henry is interested in applying techniques from cryptographic theory to build practical systems with novel security properties.