On traffic analysis in anonymous communication networks
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In this dissertation, we address issues related to traffic analysis attacks and the engineering in anonymous communication networks. Mixes have been used in many anonymous communication systems and are supposed to provide countermeasures that can defeat various traffic analysis attacks. In this dissertation, we first focus on a particular class of traffic analysis attack, flow correlation attacks, by which an adversary attempts to analyze the network traffic and correlate the traffic of a flow over an input link at a mix with that over an output link of the same mix. Two classes of correlation methods are considered, namely time-domain methods and frequency-domain methods. We find that a mix with any known batching strategy may fail against flow correlation attacks in the sense that, for a given flow over an input link, the adversary can correctly determine which output link is used by the same flow. We theoretically analyze the effectiveness of a mix network under flow correlation attacks. We extend flow correlation attack to perform flow separation: The flow separation attack separates flow aggregates into either smaller aggregates or individual flows. We apply blind source separation techniques from statistical signal processing to separate the traffic in a mix network. Our experiments show that this attack is effective and scalable. By combining flow separation and frequency spectrum matching method, a passive attacker can get the traffic map of the mix network. We use a non-trivial network to show that the combined attack works. The second part of the dissertation focuses on engineering anonymous communication networks. Measures for anonymity in systems must be on one hand simple and concise, and on the other hand reflect the realities of real systems. We propose a new measure for the anonymity degree, which takes into account possible heterogeneity. We model the effectiveness of single mixes or of mix networks in terms of information leakage and measure it in terms of covert channel capacity. The relationship between the anonymity degree and information leakage is described, and an example is shown.