Srini Devadas (MIT)
As the world becomes more connected, privacy is becoming harder to maintain. From social media services to Internet service providers to state-sponsored mass-surveillance programs, many outlets collect sensitive information about the users and the communication between them – often without the users ever knowing about it. In response, many Internet users have turned to end-to-end encryption, like Signal and TLS, to protect the content of the communication. Unfortunately, these works do little to hide the metadata of the communication, such as when and with whom a user is communicating. In scenarios where the metadata are sensitive, encryption alone is not sufficient to ensure users’ privacy.
Most prior systems that provide metadata private communication fall into one of two categories: systems that (1) provide formal privacy guarantees against global adversaries but do not scale to large numbers of users, or (2) scale easily to a large user base but do not provide strong guarantees against global adversaries. I will present two systems that aim to bridge the gap between the two categories to enable private communication with strong guarantees for many millions of users: Quark, a horizontally scalable anonymous broadcast system that defends against a global adversary who monitors the entire network and controls a significant fraction of the servers, and Crossroads, which provides metadata private communication between two honest users against the same adversary using a novel cryptographic primitive.
This talk is based on Albert Kwon’s recently completed MIT PhD dissertation.
Bio: Srini Devadas is the Webster Professor of EECS at MIT where he has been on the faculty since 1988. His current research interests are in computer security, computer architecture and applied cryptography. Devadas received the 2015 ACM/IEEE Richard Newton award, the 2017 IEEE W. Wallace McDowell award and the 2018 IEEE Charles A. Desoer award for his research in secure hardware. He is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE. He is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, an Everett Moore Baker and a Bose award recipient, considered MIT’s highest teaching honors.
Host: Simha Sethumadhavan