Peer-to-peer and other decentralized, distributed systems are known to be particularly vulnerable to sybil attacks. In a sybil attack, a malicious user obtains multiple fake identities and pretends to be multiple, distinct nodes in the system. By controlling a large fraction of the nodes in the system, the malicious user is able to “out vote” the honest users in collaborative tasks such as Byzantine failure defenses. This paper presents SybilGuard, a novel protocol for limiting the corruptive influences of sybil attacks. Our protocol is based on the “social network” among user identities, where an edge between two identities indicates a human-established trust relationship. Malicious users can create many identities but few trust relationships. Thus, there is a disproportionately-small “cut” in the graph between the sybil nodes and the honest nodes. SybilGuard exploits this property to bound the number of identities a malicious user can create. We show the effectiveness of SybilGuard both analytically and experimentally.
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