CS Talk - Dr. Krishna Gummadi, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems
Title: On the Strength of Weak Identities in Social Computing Systems (MPI-SWS)
Host: Bryan Ford
Abstract: Today’s social computing systems like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have an achilles heel: users of these systems operate behind “weak” identities, i.e., identities that are not “strongly” (verifiably) certified by any trusted authorities. Weak identities are fundamentally vulnerable to identity forging attacks and consequently, it is challenging to assess their trustworthiness. There is mounting evidence that forged identities are being used to introduce / promote spam content or to manipulate the real popularity of existing users and content on current systems. In this talk, I will introduce the intuitive notion of “strength” of a weak identity, which refers to the effort an attacker would have to expend to forge the identity and all its historical activity in the system. In theory, any weak identity could have been forged, but in practice, they would have required vastly different levels of effort for an attacker to forge. In this talk, I will first propose robust ways to assess the strength of a single weak identity as well as a crowd of weak identities. Later, I will show how these strength assessments could be leveraged to robustly detect identity forging attacks in today’s social computing systems.
Bio: Krishna Gummadi is a tenured faculy member and head of the Networked Systems research group at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS) in Germany. He received his Ph.D. (2005) and M.S. (2002) degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington. He also holds a B.Tech (2000) degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Krishna’s research interests are in the measurement, analysis, design, and evaluation of complex Internet-scale systems. His current projects focus on understanding and building social computing systems. Specifically, they tackle the challenges associated with protecting the privacy of users sharing personal data, understanding and leveraging word-of-mouth exchanges to spread information virally, and finding relevant and trustworthy sources of information in crowds. Krishna’s work on online social networks, Internet access networks, and peer-to-peer systems has led to a number of widely cited papers and award (best) papers at ACM/Usenix’s SOUPS, AAAI’s ICWSM, Usenix’s OSDI, ACM’s SIGCOMM IMW, and SPIE’s MMCN conferences.