Wednesday, 27 April 2022
9:20am – 10:20am

Over the past 30 years, much research effort has been dedicated to designing and building cryptographically-secure anonymous communication systems. However, in spite of the academic effort, Tor is the only widely-used anonymity system. Unfortunately, Tor has a substantial amount of metadata leakage, limiting the privacy it can provide to users.

In this talk, we examine the barriers in closing the gap between the academic systems that achieve strong anonymity guarantees and live, in-use systems like Tor which do not. We consider whether the privacy relaxations adopted by Tor to make it practical are fundamental to achieving usability and performance in the wild.  

In doing so, we categorize the privacy and performance tradeoffs of anonymous communication and point out privacy and efficiency improvements that could be deployed in the near future. We conclude the talk by describing a new system called Lightning which brings cryptographically-secure anonymous communication a step closer to practical deployment. 

Keynote Speaker: Srini Devadas, MIT

Srini Devadas is the Webster Professor of EECS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. Devadas’s current research interests are in computer architecture, computer security, and applied cryptography.  He is a Fellow of the IEEE and ACM. In 2021, he received the IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Practice, and the ACM SIGSAC Award for Outstanding Innovation. Devadas is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and an Everett Moore Baker teaching award recipient, considered MIT’s two highest undergraduate teaching honors.