Personalized Pseudonyms for Servers in the Cloud

Authors: Qiuyu Xiao (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Michael K. Reiter (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Yinqian Zhang (The Ohio State University)

Volume: 2017
Issue: 4
Pages: 271–289
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/popets-2017-0049

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Abstract: A considerable and growing fraction of servers, especially of web servers, is hosted in compute clouds. In this paper we opportunistically leverage this trend to improve privacy of clients from network attackers residing between the clients and the cloud: We design a system that can be deployed by the cloud operator to prevent a network adversary from determining which of the cloud’s tenant servers a client is accessing. The core innovation in our design is a PoPSiCl (pronounced “popsicle”), a persistent pseudonym for a tenant server that can be used by a single client to access the server, whose real identity is protected by the cloud from both passive and active network attackers. When instantiated for TLS-based access to web servers, our design works with all major browsers and requires no additional client-side software and minimal changes to the client user experience. Moreover, changes to tenant servers can be hidden in supporting software (operating systems and web-programming frameworks) without imposing on web-content development. Perhaps most notably, our system boosts privacy with minimal impact to web-browsing performance, after some initial setup during a user’s first access to each web server.

Keywords: server anonymity, pseudonyms, cloud computing

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