We welcome the PAM 2023 keynote speakers!

Roya Ensafi - University of Michigan

Title: Protecting Users from Adversarial Networks

Tusday, March 21, 2023 at 14:00 (CET).

Abstract: The Internet has become a hostile place for users’ traffic. Network-based actors, including ISPs and governments, increasingly practice sophisticated forms of censorship, content injection, and traffic throttling, as well as surveillance and other privacy violations. My work attempts to expose these threats and develop technologies to better safeguard users. Detecting and defending against adversarial networks is challenging, especially at global scale, due to the Internet’s vast size and heterogeneity, the powerful capabilities of in-network threat actors, and the lack of ground-truth on the counterfactual traffic that would exist in the absence of interference. Overcoming these challenges requires new techniques and systems, both for collecting and interpreting evidence of hostile networks and for building defensive tools that effectively meet user needs. In this talk, I’ll first cover my approach to monitoring Internet censorship. I introduced an entirely new family of censorship measurement techniques, based on network side-channels, that can remotely detect censorship events occurring between distant pairs of network locations. To overcome the systems and data science challenges of operating these techniques and synthesizing their results into a holistic view of online censorship, my students and I created Censored Planet, a censorship observatory that continuously tests the reachability of thousands of popular or sensitive sites from over 100,000 vantage points in 221 countries. Next, I’ll discuss our efforts to understand and defend the consumer VPN ecosystem. Although millions of end-users rely on VPNs to protect their privacy and security, this multibillion-dollar industry includes numerous snakeoil products, is laxly regulated, and remains severely understudied. To address this, my lab created VPNalyzer, a project that aims to bring transparency and better security to consumer VPNs. Our work includes a cross-platform test suite that crowd-sources VPN security testing, coupled with large-scale user studies that aim to understand the needs and threat models of VPN users.

Biography: Roya Ensafi is a Morris Wellman assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan, where her research focuses on Internet security and privacy, with the goal of creating techniques and systems to better protect users online. She is particularly passionate about online censorship, geo-discrimination, surveillance, and related threats to Internet freedom. Prof. Ensafi is the founder of Censored Planet, a global censorship observatory. She has studied Russia’s throttling of Twitter, HTTPS interception in Kazakhstan, and China’s Great Cannon attack, among many other instances of network interference. She is a recipient of the Google Faculty Research Award, the NSF CAREER, multiple IRTF Applied Networking Research Prizes, and the Consumer Reports Digital Lab fellowship. Her work has been cited in popular publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, Business Insider, Wired, and Ars Technica.

Andra Lutu - Telefónica Research

Title: Deep Dive into Interconnection in the Mobile Ecosystem

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 14:00 (CET).

Abstract: The IP eXchange (IPX) Network interconnects about 800 Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) worldwide and a range of other service providers (such as cloud and content providers) to enable global data roaming. Global roaming now supports the fast growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), while it also responds to the insatiable demand coming from digital nomads, who adhere to a lifestyle where they connect from anywhere in the world.

In this talk, we’ll take a first look into this so-far opaque mobile ecosystem, and present first-of-its-kind in-depth analysis of an operational IPX Provider (IPX-P). The IPX Network is a private network formed by a small set of tightly interconnected IPX-Ps. We analyze an operational dataset from a large IPX-P that includes BGP data as well as statistics from signaling. We shed light on the structure of the IPX Network as well as on the temporal, structural and geographic features of the IPX traffic. Our results are a first step to fully understand the global mobile Internet, especially since it now represents a pivotal part in connecting IoT devices and digital nomads all over the world. Finally, we discuss the different operator models, the limitations of current “global” operators on the market that leverage the IPX Network, and how we envision the next generation global operator model.

Biography: Andra Lutu is a Senior Researcher at Telefónica Research, in Madrid, Spain. Her main research interests lie in the areas of network measurements, interdomain routing and mobile networks, and her work translated into more than 50 publications in top venues such as ACM MobiCom, ACM SIGCOMM or ACM IMC. As part of Telefónica Research, Andra has been the recipient of an H2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship grant funding her work on “Dynamic Interconnections for the Cellular Ecosystem (DICE)”, which is partly included in this talk.