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Secure Provenance in Distributed Systems

Date and Time
Monday, December 12, 2011 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Computer Science 402
Jennifer Rexford
Operators of distributed systems often find themselves needing to answer forensic questions, to perform a variety of managerial tasks including fault detection, system debugging, accountability enforcement, and attack analysis. In this talk, we present Secure Provenance, a novel approach that provides the fundamental functionality required for answering such forensic questions -- the capability to "explain'' the existence (or change) of a certain distributed system state at a given time in a potentially adversarial environment.

We show that it is both possible and practical to efficiently and scalably maintain and query provenance in a distributed fashion, where provenance maintenance and querying are modeled as recursive continuous queries over distributed relations. We then propose enhancements to the provenance model that allow operators to reliably query provenance information in adversarial environments. Our extensions incorporate tamper-evident properties which provide the guarantee that operators can eventually detect the presence of compromised nodes that lie or falsely implicate correct nodes. Finally, we present ongoing efforts that consider privacy protection of sensitive information in provenance maintenance and querying, and discuss our work in the context of our longer term vision towards provably secure distributed systems.

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