University of Maryland to introduce Alibi Routing

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 27, 2015

COLLEGE PARK, MD: One of the greatest concerns for open communication over the internet is censorship imposed by different countries while data is routed through their territory.  Information may be censored by a user’s country of residence or the information’s final destination. But studies have revealed that countries through which the data has been routed might also alter it by imposing censorship authorities.

Scientists at University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies have come up with a solution to this concern by introducing Alibi Routing. It works by searching through a peer-to-peer network to locate peers (Alibi) who are also running the alibi software. Together they can relay data packets to its intended destination while avoiding specified forbidden geographical regions.

Highlighting this particular scenario, Project Lead Dave Levin, an assistant research scientist at the UMIACS says, “With recent events, such as censorship of Internet traffic, suspicious ‘boomerang routing’ where data leaves a region only to come back again, and monitoring of users’ data, we became increasingly interested in this notion of empowering users to have more control over what happens with their data.”.

Data transmitted over the internet are broken into packets before they are sent through a series of hundreds and thousands of routers towards their destination. However, till now senders and receivers enjoyed little or no control over the routing path of the data and what parts of the world these packets travel through. 

The system is immediately deployable and does not require knowledge of Internet routing technologies and hardware and  can be implemented by using the already existing infrastructure.

For the purpose of testing Alibi Routing method, the researchers have simulated a network with 20,000 participants and some designated forbidden regions.

The alibi provides proof—calculations that exploit the fact that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light—that at a particular time, a packet was at a specific geographic location sufficiently far enough away from the forbidden areas that the data could not have entered them.