Visible to the public The Waterfall of Liberty: Decoy Routing Circumvention That Resists Routing Attacks

TitleThe Waterfall of Liberty: Decoy Routing Circumvention That Resists Routing Attacks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsNasr, Milad, Zolfaghari, Hadi, Houmansadr, Amir
Conference NameProceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-4946-8
Keywordscensorship circumvention, decoy routing, internet censorship, Metrics, pubcrawl, resilience, Resiliency, Router Systems, Router Systems Security, routing attacks, security

Decoy routing is an emerging approach for censorship circumvention in which circumvention is implemented with help from a number of volunteer Internet autonomous systems, called decoy ASes. Recent studies on decoy routing consider all decoy routing systems to be susceptible to a fundamental attack - regardless of their specific designs-in which the censors re-route traffic around decoy ASes, thereby preventing censored users from using such systems. In this paper, we propose a new architecture for decoy routing that, by design, is significantly stronger to rerouting attacks compared to all previous designs. Unlike previous designs, our new architecture operates decoy routers only on the downstream traffic of the censored users; therefore we call it downstream-only decoy routing. As we demonstrate through Internet-scale BGP simulations, downstream-only decoy routing offers significantly stronger resistance to rerouting attacks, which is intuitively because a (censoring) ISP has much less control on the downstream BGP routes of its traffic. Designing a downstream-only decoy routing system is a challenging engineering problem since decoy routers do not intercept the upstream traffic of censored users. We design the first downstream-only decoy routing system, called Waterfall, by devising unique covert communication mechanisms. We also use various techniques to make our Waterfall implementation resistant to traffic analysis attacks. We believe that downstream-only decoy routing is a significant step towards making decoy routing systems practical. This is because a downstream-only decoy routing system can be deployed using a significantly smaller number of volunteer ASes, given a target resistance to rerouting attacks. For instance, we show that a Waterfall implementation with only a single decoy AS is as resistant to routing attacks (against China) as a traditional decoy system (e.g., Telex) with 53 decoy ASes.

Citation Keynasr_waterfall_2017