about adrian perrig

Adrian PerrigAdrian Perrig is the technical director for CyLab. He is a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering and Public Policy, and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and spent three years during his Ph.D. degree at University of California at Berkeley. He received his B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Adrian's research interests revolve around building secure systems and include Internet security, security for sensor networks and mobile applications.

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CyLab Chronicles

Q&A with Adrian Perrig (2011)

posted by Richard Power

NOTE: With fifty plus faculty researchers, and one hundred plus graduate students, working along seven major research thrusts and seven cross-cutting research thrusts, CyLab's program impacts a broad spectrum of challenges, from securing the smart grid to enhancing personal privacy; but none is more sweeping in its implications and potential consequences than Scalability, Control, and Isolation On Next-Generation Networks (SCION). Adrian Perrig, CyLab Technical Director, sat down recently to provide some insights on this vital project. -- Richard Power

CyLab Chronicles: Anyone who has paid attention for the last few years can see that there are serious cyber security issues re: the Internet, and that they simply aren't going away. But are they systemic? Tell us about some of these problems? Why is the answer "a new Internet"?

Adrian Perrig: There is usually a small set of security issues that are the focus of attention. These can be fixed with patches, but with most issues and fixes, the focus of attention moves on to the next issue, resulting in an ongoing tug-of-war. We need to stop with this reactionary approach, and start with a more proactive approach to securing the Internet. Another reason for studying a clean-slate Internet architecture is that we need to know how secure a network could be with a revolutionary approach, to guide the evolutionary efforts.

CyLab Chronicles: What are the architectural goals of SCION and how do they address these systemic Internet security problems? What will does this vision of the "New Internet" look like? SCION architecture

Perrig: SCION is based on 3 core principles: explicit trust, control, and isolation. Explicit trust enables one to exactly understand which entities need to be trusted for any network operation. Enhanced control provides path choice to ISPs, senders and receivers. Isolation addresses threats from external entities and handles the problem where different entities/countries disagree on a single root of trust. Our new Internet design offers very high security, scalability, flexibility, and efficiency, offering dramatically improved network availability.

CyLab Chronicles: Give us some insight into "Hierarchical Decomposition" and "Path Construction"?

Perrig: Hierarchical decomposition into trust domains provides the isolation property, addressing the disparate trust relationship issue. Paths in SCION are quite different from current Internet paths, because they provide reachability to the trusted network core of the trust domain, instead of reachability to an arbitrary destination. Path construction refers to the process that creates and disseminates the multiple paths to each end domain on how to reach the trusted network core.

CyLab Chronicles: In your presentation, you mention SCION as offering "more intrinsically secure properties" as well as other "desirable properties"; could you give us a sense of these properties and their importance?

Perrig: The major routing attacks are prefix hijacking and blackhole attacks (through route truncation or alteration), which both are intrinsically prevented in SCION. Route convergence is a major issue for many protocols, as well as consistency issues among routing tables. SCION separates routing from forwarding through explicit paths, thus sidestepping consistency issues. SCION also intrinsically converges, removing possibilities for route oscillation. The extensibility features of SCION also enable powerful DDoS defense mechanisms. SCION layer limitations

CyLab Chronicles: For what purposes would this new internet be deployed? Would it be for a select or elect organizations, or a particular infrastructure, and everything? How would it be implemented and deployed?

Perrig: Initial deployment may be to support an infrastructure that requires high availability despite potentially adversarial network components. Early adoption may potentially come from a smart grid communication infrastructure, or from the military domain.

CyLab Chronicles: What would this new Internet mean for corporations? For governments? For the populace?

Perrig: Network operation costs would be dramatically reduced, because attacks and misconfigurations would remain self-contained (without affecting other communications). Routers would become much simpler (due to the absence of routing tables), thus likely offering higher throughput at a lower price point. SCION removes the need for governments to agree on a single root of trust, thus enabling each country to run their own trust domain. Individuals will likely obtain higher throughput, better availability, and lower communication variance. The lower management and equipment costs for ISP will hopefully also translate into lower prices for the consumers.

CyLab Chronicles: What is the timeline of this research? Where is it going? What would implementation look like? How would we roll out a "New Internet"?

Perrig: We are in the process of completing a fully functional prototype implementation. Hopefully, we will have a working prototype system with SCION-based applications by the end of the year. I dare not make a prediction about a real deployment, but anticipating that we may have one long before I get gray hair.

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