Session
Programm CCCamp 2019
Security

Introduction to Mix Networks and Katzenpost

a new anonymity movement
This talk will introduce the fundamental concepts of mix networks as well as the Katzenpost mix network free software project. We are not just implementing a new mix network but starting a new anonymity movement and we welcome others to join us! Like Tor, mix networks protect metadata by using layered encryption and routing packets between a series of independent nodes. Mix networks resist vastly more powerful adversary models than Tor though, including partial defense against global passive adversaries. In so doing, mix networks add both latency and cover traffic. I shall outline the basic components of a mix network, touch on their roles in resisting active and passive attacks. In particular I'll mention how mix networks can be used with encrypted messaging applications and crypto currency to resist global network surveillance and traffic analysis.

Academics have proposed various anonymity technologies with far stronger threat models than Tor, but by far the most practical and efficient option remains mix networks, which date to the founding of anonymity research by David Chaum in 1981. Tor was inspired by mix networks and shares some superficial similarities, but mix networks' are vastly stronger if they judiciously add latency and decoy traffic.

There are several historical reasons why mixnets lost popularity and why Tor's onion routing won. Namely, Tor is low latency and can be used to browse the web. This is in contrast to mix networks which are essentially an unreliable packet switching network. Historically mix networks achieved enough mix entropy by using long delays whereas it is becoming more widely understood that there exists a trade off between legit traffic, decoy traffic and latency. After this introduction to mix networks I'll talk a bit about the Katzenpost mix network software project which is based off of the recently published academic paper "The Loopix Anonymity System". These new insights into mix network designs allow modern mix networks to make the correct design trade offs so that we can keep the latency relatively low. Historically high latency and unreliability has been a major obstacle to mass adoption. I shall explain how Katzenpost solves both of these problems and allows developers to easily add network services to the mix network to support a wide variety of client applications including but not limited to: encrypted messaging, crypto currency transaction transport, offline browsing and, transporting client interactions with Distributed Hash Tables and Conflict Free Replicating Data Types et cetera.

Additional information

Type lecture
Language English

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