The NSF has awarded Rice University a grant to study peer-to-peer (p2p) overlay networks.
Security for overlay networks will require understanding the extent to which malicious users, controlling a non-trivial fraction of the overlay network nodes, can corrupt or defeat the correct functioning of the network. We will design, implement, and evaluate techniques to address these issues. Likewise, we will investigate the ability of overlay networks to leverage peers that trust each other to behave properly. When such extrinsic trust relationships exist, they may simplify security issues and increase confidence in the result.
Incentives for distributed systems address the threat of “freeloading” nodes who, rather than trying to destroy the network, merely want to get service for free without providing any service in return. We will model, design, implement, and evaluate systems that give participants natural incentives to follow the protocols correctly. Our research proposal will also support a collaboration with Roger Dingledine, one of the authors of Tor, a widely used anonymous communication system; we will investigate incentives issues in Tor as well.