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Website Fingerprinting

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Abstract: Network traffic, even when encrypted, contains patterns such as packet sizes, counts, and timings, that can be used to infer sensitive information about its contents. In particular, it is often possible to infer which website a user is visiting, or which page within a site, as each site has a distinctive “fingerprint” visible within the traffic patterns. Website fingerprinting has been applied in a number of contexts, including secure web browsing, virtual private networks, and anonymous communications. Our recent work shows that it can even be used to remotely monitor the activities of a home user connected with a broadband modem. [1] I will present an overview of website fingerprinting attacks and defenses, including our work in progress that promises to simultaneously improve both the privacy and performance of anonymous web browsing. [2]

Bio: Nikita Borisov is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are online privacy and network security. He is the co-designer of the Off-the-Record (OTR) instant messaging protocol and was responsible for the first public analysis of 802.11 security. He is also the recipient of the NSF CAREER award. Prof. Borisov received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005 and a B.Math from the University of Waterloo in 1998.

References: [1] http://hatswitch.org/enikita/papers/rta-pets12.pdf [2] http://hatswitch.org/nikita/papers/pnp-poster-ccs13.pdf

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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