International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Alina Oprea


FlipIt: The Game of “Stealthy Takeover”
Recent targeted attacks have increased significantly in sophistication, undermining the fundamental assumptions on which most cryptographic primitives rely for security. For instance, attackers launching an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) can steal full cryptographic keys, violating the very secrecy of “secret” keys that cryptographers assume in designing secure protocols. In this article, we introduce a game-theoretic framework for modeling various computer security scenarios prevalent today, including targeted attacks. We are particularly interested in situations in which an attacker periodically compromises a system or critical resource completely, learns all its secret information and is not immediately detected by the system owner or defender. We propose a two-player game between an attacker and defender called FlipIt or The Game of “Stealthy Takeover.” In FlipIt, players compete to control a shared resource. Unlike most existing games, FlipIt allows players to move at any given time, taking control of the resource. The identity of the player controlling the resource, however, is not revealed until a player actually moves. To move, a player pays a certain move cost. The objective of each player is to control the resource a large fraction of time, while minimizing his total move cost. FlipIt provides a simple and elegant framework in which we can formally reason about the interaction between attackers and defenders in practical scenarios. In this article, we restrict ourselves to games in which one of the players (the defender) plays with a renewal strategy, one in which the intervals between consecutive moves are chosen independently and uniformly at random from a fixed probability distribution. We consider attacker strategies ranging in increasing sophistication from simple periodic strategies (with moves spaced at equal time intervals) to more complex adaptive strategies, in which moves are determined based on feedback received during the game. For different classes of strategies employed by the attacker, we determine strongly dominant strategies for both players (when they exist), strategies that achieve higher benefit than all other strategies in a particular class. When strongly dominant strategies do not exist, our goal is to characterize the residual game consisting of strategies that are not strongly dominated by other strategies. We also prove equivalence or strict inclusion of certain classes of strategies under different conditions. Our analysis of different FlipIt variants teaches cryptographers, system designers, and the community at large some valuable lessons: 1.Systems should be designed under the assumption of repeated total compromise, including theft of cryptographic keys. FlipIt provides guidance on how to implement a cost-effective defensive strategy.2.Aggressive play by one player can motivate the opponent to drop out of the game (essentially not to play at all). Therefore, moving fast is a good defensive strategy, but it can only be implemented if move costs are low. We believe that virtualization has a huge potential in this respect.3.Close monitoring of one’s resources is beneficial in detecting potential attacks faster, gaining insight into attacker’s strategies, and scheduling defensive moves more effectively. Interestingly, FlipIt finds applications in other security realms besides modeling of targeted attacks. Examples include cryptographic key rotation, password changing policies, refreshing virtual machines, and cloud auditing.
How to Tell if Your Cloud Files Are Vulnerable to Drive Crashes
This paper presents a new challenge---verifying that a remote server is storing a file in a fault-tolerant manner, i.e., such that it can survive hard-drive failures. We describe an approach called the Remote Assessment of Fault Tolerance (RAFT). The key technique in a RAFT is to measure the time taken for a server to respond to a read request for a collection of file blocks. The larger the number of hard drives across which a file is distributed, the faster the read-request response. Erasure codes also play an important role in our solution. We describe a theoretical framework for RAFTs and show experimentally that RAFTs can work in practice.
Proofs of Retrievability: Theory and Implementation
A proof of retrievability (POR) is a compact proof by a file system (prover) to a client (verifier) that a target file F is intact, in the sense that the client can fully recover it. As PORs incur lower communication costs than transmission of F itself, they are an attractive building block for high-assurance remote storage systems. In this paper, we propose a theoretical framework for the design of PORs. This framework leads to improvements in the previously proposed POR constructions of Juels-Kaliski and Shacham-Waters, and also sheds light on the conceptual limitations of previous theoretical models for PORs. We propose a new variant on the Juels-Kaliski protocol with significantly improved efficiency and describe a prototype implementation. We demonstrate practical encoding even for files F whose size exceeds that of client main memory.
HAIL: A High-Availability and Integrity Layer for Cloud Storage
We introduce HAIL (High-Availability and Integrity Layer), a distributed cryptographic system that permits a set of servers to prove to a client that a stored file is intact and retrievable. Proofs in HAIL are efficiently computable by servers and highly compact---typically tens or hundreds of bytes, irrespective of file size. HAIL cryptographically verifies and reactively reallocates file shares. It is robust against an active, mobile adversary, i.e., one that may progressively corrupt the full set of servers. We propose a strong, formal adversarial model for HAIL, and rigorous analysis and parameter choices. We also report on a prototype implementation. HAIL strengthens, formally unifies, and streamlines distinct approaches from the cryptographic and distributed-systems communities. HAIL also includes an optional new tool for proactive protection of stored files. HAIL is primarily designed to protect static stored objects, such as backup files or archives.
Secure Key-Updating for Lazy Revocation
We consider the problem of efficient key management and user revocation in cryptographic file systems that allow shared access to files. A performance-efficient solution to user revocation in such systems is lazy revocation, a method that delays the re-encryption of a file until the next write to that file. We formalize the notion of key-updating schemes for lazy revocation, an abstraction to manage cryptographic keys in file systems with lazy revocation, and give a security definition for such schemes. We give two composition methods that combine two secure key-updating schemes into a new secure scheme that permits a larger number of user revocations. We prove the security of two slightly modified existing constructions and propose a novel binary tree construction that is also provable secure in our model. Finally, we give a systematic analysis of the computational and communication complexity of the three constructions and show that the novel construction improves the previously known constructions.