Privacy in Communications

A first line of defense for protecting data and communications involves cryptography. However, these methods cannot address the complete spectrum of privacy issues that will arise as we become increasingly connected. Conventional security solutions are inadequate for protecting the context surrounding many systems that we use on a daily basis.

I have been developing solutions that provide privacy for wireless devices and their data, which address several critical contextual privacy issues:

  • Source-location privacy (where was the source of a transmission?)
  • Temporal privacy (when did the transmission originate?)
  • Traffic privacy (can meaning be inferred from the size of the message alone?)

We have made fundamental contributions to information-theoretic formulations of privacy that have an impact on the design of mixes, and on network-layer routing functions to enhance the privacy of a communication’s context. Our privacy research also has involved the obfuscation of information being shared between competing organizations that aim to cooperate, yet each might have its own selfish or malicious objective.

Related reading: BIT-TRAPS: Building Information-Theoretic Traffic Privacy Into Packet Streams