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Denial of Service Attacks and Defenses in Decentralized Trust Management

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4 Author(s)
Jiangtao Li ; Department of Computer Science, Purdue University, jtli@cs.purdue.edu ; Ninghui Li ; XiaoFeng Wang ; Ting Yu

Trust management is an approach to scalable and flexible access control in decentralized systems. In trust management, a server often needs to evaluate a chain of credentials submitted by a client; this requires the server to perform multiple expensive digital signature verifications. In this paper, we study low-bandwidth denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that exploit the existence of trust management systems to deplete server resources. Although the threat of DoS attacks has been studied for some application-level protocols such as authentication protocols, we show that it is especially destructive for trust management systems. Exploiting the delegation feature in trust management languages, an attacker can forge a long credential chain to force a server to consume a large amount of computing resource. Using game theory as an analytic tool, we demonstrate that unprotected trust management servers will easily fall prey to a witty attacker who moves smartly. We report our empirical study of existing trust management systems, which manifests the gravity of this threat. We also propose a defense technique using credential caching, and show that it is effective in the presence of intelligent attackers

Published in:

Securecomm and Workshops, 2006

Date of Conference:

Aug. 28 2006-Sept. 1 2006