Vulnerabilities and security threats in structured overlay networks: A quantitative analysis

  • Srivatsa M
  • Liu L
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A number of recent applications have been built on distributed hash
tables (DHTs) based overlay networks. Almost all DHT-based schemes
employ a tight deterministic data placement and ID mapping schemes.
This feature on one hand provides assurance on location of data if
it exists, within a bounded number of hops, and on the other hand,
opens doors for malicious nodes to lodge attacks that can potentially
thwart the functionality of the overlay network. This paper studies
several serious security threats in DHT-based systems through two
targeted attacks at the overlay network's protocol layer. The first
attack explores the routing anomalies that can be caused by malicious
nodes returning incorrect lookup routes. The second attack targets
the ID mapping scheme. We disclose that the malicious nodes can target
any specific data item in the system; and corrupt/modify the data
item to its favor. For each of these attacks, we provide quantitative
analysis to estimate the extent of damage that can be caused by the
attack; followed by experimental validation and defenses to guard
the overlay networks from such attacks.

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  • Mudhakar Srivatsa

  • Ling Liu

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