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Managing Privacy Tradeoffs in the Internet

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Using a communication network entails an inherent privacy risk: when personal data enters the network, it is processed and observed by third parties the user may not trust. In some cases, the user may not even trust the other endpoint. Techniques exist to protect user privacy, but they typically provide privacy at the expense of other desirable properties. For example, onion routing services like Tor effectively hide a packet’s true sender but weakens accountability by making it nearly impossible for network administrators to track down malicious senders. Similarly, encryption hides application data from third parties but prevents the use of middleboxes—devices that process packets in the network to improve performance, like caches, or offer extra functionality, like firewalls. In this talk, I’ll present past and ongoing work to balance these “Privacy vs. X” tradeoffs.

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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