Networking and Cybersecurity

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING

Distributed Algorithmics for Robust Network Controllers

Our research concerns the design and implementation of a scalable and secure distributed controller platform which allows network administrators to concurrently program the data plane without worrying about the synchronization problems that may arise due to malicious/misconfigured controllers, data plane switch/link failures, network asynchrony or modifications to control group membership. Our research additionally investigates a novel application of blockchains leveraging the distributed controller platform to perform fine-grained network data plane provenance, thus providing crucial forensics and diagnostics vital to network administrators.

 


Concurrency Challenges in Cryptocurrencies: A Privacy and Security Perspective on Building Next-Generation Smart Contract and Blockchain-Based Ecosystems

Smart contracts and cryptocurrencies promise the reinvention of the monetary circuit by applying tamper-resistant concepts from distributed computing to the financial sector, thus introducing efficiency and communal monitoring of real-time transactions by logging them within a blockchain data structure. While the span of potential future applications is promising, open research problems remain to be addressed in order to transition to real-world applications—the most crucial being the end-to-end security of transactions. Our research focuses on addressing security, privacy and scalability challenges that are inherent in emerging smart contract systems. This research has two main conceptual contributions: 1) construct models and commensurate algorithms catering to emerging smart contract proposals and domain-specific industry requirements that do not adopt the prevalent fully decentralized model; 2) a framework for reasoning about the scalability-security-privacy trade-offs in building smart contract platforms.

Research conducted as part of this project outlines the algorithmic foundations for practical privacy-preserving smart contracts in a payment channel network (PCN), as well as models for end-to-end security of transactions within the generic smart contract ecosystem.