Software-implemented attack tolerance for critical information retrieval
The fast-growing reliance of our daily life upon online information services often demands an appropriate level of privacy protection as well as highly available service provision. However, most existing solutions have attempted to address these problems separately. This thesis investigates and presents a solution that provides both privacy protection and fault tolerance for online information retrieval. A new approach to Attack-Tolerant Information Retrieval (ATIR) is developed based on an extension of existing theoretical results for Private Information Retrieval (PIR). ATIR uses replicated services to protect a user's privacy and to ensure service availability. In particular, ATIR can tolerate any collusion of up to t servers for privacy violation and up to ƒ faulty (either crashed or malicious) servers in a system with k replicated servers, provided that k ≥ t + ƒ + 1 where t ≥ 1 and ƒ ≤ t. In contrast to other related approaches, ATIR relies on neither enforced trust assumptions, such as the use of tanker-resistant hardware and trusted third parties, nor an increased number of replicated servers. While the best solution known so far requires k (≥ 3t + 1) replicated servers to cope with t malicious servers and any collusion of up to t servers with an O(n^*^) communication complexity, ATIR uses fewer servers with a much improved communication cost, O(n1/2)(where n is the size of a database managed by a server).The majority of current PIR research resides on a theoretical level. This thesis provides both theoretical schemes and their practical implementations with good performance results. In a LAN environment, it takes well under half a second to use an ATIR service for calculations over data sets with a size of up to 1MB. The performance of the ATIR systems remains at the same level even in the presence of server crashes and malicious attacks. Both analytical results and experimental evaluation show that ATIR offers an attractive and practical solution for ever-increasing online information applications.