Anonymous communications in wireless access networks
The growth of mobile communications systems over the past decade indicates a trend towards an always-on, ubiquitously networked society. This increase in communications availability leads to a corresponding increase in information gathered, processed, and transmitted over these networks. Some of this information is loosely considered by users of these systems to be private, and in some cases, even the general pattern of use of network services could be regarded as revealing personal information. Therefore, along with growth in communications comes growth in privacy concerns. One approach to protecting users' privacy is to offer anonymity: the ability to blend into a crowd, such that any communications cannot be attributed to a particular real identity. This research study investigates two aspects of providing anonymity in mobile networks: in services, and for network access. Anonymous mobile service provision is approached by analysing several fixed-network approaches to anonymous communications, and examining how they can be reapplied to mobile systems. A set of conclusions and recommendations for future implementations are contributed, along with a case study of providing anonymous location-based services for mobile systems. Being able to connect to a network while remaining truly anonymous is a novel concept, only made possible by the untethered nature of mobile communications. Analysis of the practical requirements for achieving such service is presented, and a solution is proposed, based on a new approach to mobile network service provision called the Digital Marketplace. To support this approach to network access, the fair and reliable operation of the market is ensured by securing its protocol operation. Further modifications to this scheme are proposed, in order to enable fully anonymous network access.