Project Publications
LOCARD related articles have been published in high-rated journals and presented in top conferences. The following list depicts all articles published and presented from the beginning of the project.

Abstract:

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a novel network approach that has revolutionised existent network architectures by decoupling the control plane from the data plane. Researchers have shown that SDN networks are highly vulnerable to security attacks. For instance, adversaries can tamper with the controller's network topology view to hijack the hosts' location or create fake inter-switch links. These attacks can be launched for various purposes, ranging from impersonating hosts to bypassing middleboxes or intercepting network traffic. Several countermeasures have been proposed to mitigate topology attacks but to date there has been no comprehensive analysis of the level of security they offer. A critical analysis is thus an important step towards better understanding the possible limitations of the existing solutions and building stronger defences against topology attacks.

In this paper, we evaluate the actual security of the existing mechanisms for network topology discovery in SDN. Our analysis reveals 6 vulnerabilities in the state-of-the-art countermeasures against topology attacks: TopoGuard,</> <>TopoGuard+,</>SPV</> and SecureBinder.</> We show that these vulnerabilities can be exploited in practice to manipulate the network topology view at the controller. Furthermore, we present 2 novel topology attacks, called Topology Freezing</> and Reverse Loop,</> that exploit vulnerabilities in the widely used Floodlight controller. We responsibly disclosed these vulnerabilities to Floodlight. While we show that it is difficult to fully eradicate these attacks, we propose fixes to mitigate them. In response to our findings, we conclude the paper by detailing practical ways of further improving the existing countermeasures.


Authors: Eduard Marin; Nicola Bucciol; Mauro Conti.

Date of Publication: November 2019.

Publisher: ACM Digital Library.

Conference: ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

Abstract

Cybercrime in the past decade has experienced an all-time high due to the inclusion of so-called smart devices in our daily lives. These tiny devices with brittle security features are often dubbed as the Internet of Things (IoT). Their inclusion is not only limited to our daily lives but also in different fields, for example, healthcare, smart-industries, aviation, and smart-cities. Although IoT devices make our lives easy and perform our jobs in a smart way, but their fragile security mechanisms pose a severe challenge regarding safety and privacy of its users. Attacks like Stuxnet, and Mirai-botnet are the key examples of the damages that can be caused by maliciously controlling these devices. One effective tool to identify a malicious entity at a network device is to perform Remote Attestation (RA). However, performing RA over a large, heterogeneous IoT network is difficult tasks due to resource constrain nature of these networks. To this end, we propose a novel scheme called SARP, which is an attestation-assisted secure and scalable routing protocol for IoT networks. SARP performs attestation in large scale IoT networks by using Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks (RPL) framework and exploiting the inbuilt features of RPL. In particular, SARP uses attestation technique that not only secures the network from internal attacks, but it also provides security to RPL’s data communication process, which helps to improve the overall network performance. Moreover, SARP supports network mobility, device heterogeneity, and network scalability, while it does not sacrifice the key requirements of IoT networks such as low energy and memory consumption, and low network overhead. The simulation results obtained in different IoT scenarios in presence of various types of attacks show the effectiveness of SARP, concerning energy consumption, packet delivery ratio, network overhead, data integrity, and communication security.


Authors: Mauro Conti; Pallavi Kaliyar; Md Masoon Rabbani; Silvio Ranise.

Date of Publication: November 2019.

Publisher: Elsevier.

Abstract:

Blockchain's evolution during the past decade is astonishing: from bitcoin to over 2.000 altcoins, and from decentralised electronic payments to transactions programmable by smart contracts and complex tokens governed by decentralised organisations. While the new generation of blockchain applications is still evolving, blockchain's technical characteristics are also advancing. Yet, immutability, a hitherto indisputable and highly advertised property according to which blockchain data cannot be edited nor deleted, remains the cornerstone of blockchain's security. Nevertheless, blockchain's immutability is being called into question lately in the light of the new erasing requirements imposed by the GDPR's "Right to be Forgotten (RtbF)" provision. As the RtbF obliges blockchain data to be editable in order restricted content redactions, modifications or deletions to be applied when requested, blockchains compliance with the regulation is indeed challenging, if not impracticable. Towards resolving this contradiction, various methods and techniques for mutable blockchains have been proposed to satisfy regulatory erasing requirements while preserving blockchains' security. To this end, this work aims to provide a comprehensive review on the state-of-the-art research approaches, technical workarounds and advanced cryptographic techniques that have been put forward to resolve this conflict and to discuss their potentials, constraints and limitations when applied in the wild to either permissioned or permissionless blockchains.


Authors: Eugenia Politou; Fran Casino; Efthimios Alepis; Constantinos Patsakis.

Journal: IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing

Date of Publication: 25 October 2019.

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Attachments:
Download this file (mutability.pdf)mutability.pdf[ ]1356 kB

Abstract:

Information overload is a phenomenon of our days due to the unprecedented penetration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in our daily lives. As a result, people often end up with more options than they can process to choose from and therefore may opt for choices which do not fit best to their preferences. To address these issues, recommender systems (RSs) were proposed and have gained a lot of interest from the research community and industry. However, privacy is a big concern in these systems. While decentralized recommenders can protect privacy, they lack the needed efficiency to be widely adopted. In this article, we use blockchain as the backbone of a decentralized RS, managing to equip it with a broad set of features while simultaneously, preserving user’s privacy. We introduce a new architecture, based on decentralized locality sensitive hashing classification as well as a set of recommendation methods, according to how data are managed by users. Extensive experimental results illustrate the performance and efficacy of our approach compared with state-of-the-art methods. In addition, a discussion about its benefits and opportunities provides ground for further research.


Authors: Fran CasinoConstantinos Patsakis.

Journal: IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Date of Publication: 22 October 2019.

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Attachments:
Download this file (block_collab.pdf)block_collab.pdf[ ]1632 kB

Abstract

With new cryptocurrencies being frequently introduced to the market, the demand for cryptomining - a fundamental operation associated with most of the cryptocurrencies - has initiated a new stream of earning financial gains. The cost associated with the lucrative cryptomining has driven general masses to unethically mine cryptocurrencies using “plundered” resources in the public organizations (e.g., universities) as well as in the corporate sector that follows Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture. Such exploitation of the resources causes financial detriment to the affected organizations, which often discover the abuse when the damage has already been done. In this paper, we present a novel approach that leverages magnetic side-channel to detect covert cryptomining. Our proposed approach works even when the examiner does not have login-access or root-privileges on the suspect device. It merely requires the physical proximity of the examiner and a magnetic sensor, which is often available on smartphones. The fundamental idea of our approach is to profile the magnetic field emission of a processor for the set of available mining algorithms. We built a complete implementation of our system using advanced machine learning techniques. In our experiments, we included all the cryptocurrencies supported by the top-10 mining pools, which collectively comprise the largest share (84% during Q3 2018) of the cryptomining market. Moreover, we tested our methodology primarily on two different laptops. By using the data recorded from the magnetometer of an ordinary smartphone, our classifier achieved an average precision of over 88% and an average F1 score of 87%. Apart from our primary goal - which is to identify covert cryptomining - we also performed four additional experiments to further evaluate our approach. We found that due to its underlying design, our system is future-ready and can readily adapt even to zero-day cryptocurrencies.


Authors: Ankit Gangwal; Mauro Conti.

Journal: IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security.

Date of Publication: 02 October 2019.

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Abstract:

Internet of Multimedia Things (IoMT) are receiving significant attention due to a wide variety of applications, e.g., wildlife habitat monitoring, but they are often highly resource constrained. Compared to Internet of Things, preserving battery power of nodes, and maximizing the lifespan of IoMT are more critical and challenging as sensed data are mostly image/video instead of simple scalar. Recent studies have shown that clustering is an efficient solution to reduce energy consumption. In clusters, the role of each node changes to reduce energy consumption, thereby, prolonging lifespan. In this paper, we address the lifespan maximization problem in IoMT by designing a clustering protocol where clusters are formed dynamically. Specifically, we analyze and solve an optimization problem aiming to maximize the lifespan by reducing the energy consumption among cluster heads. Based on the analysis, we propose a novel DIStributed on-demand Clustering (DISC) protocol. Our cluster head election procedure is not periodic, but adaptive, based on the dynamism of the occurrence of events. This on-demand execution of DISC aims to significantly reduce computation and message overheads. We validate the performance of DISC through extensive experiments. Experimental results show that DISC is 25% more energy balanced and achieves 32% more lifespan as compared to two state-of-the-art solutions.


Authors: Amrita Ghosal; Subir HalderMauro Conti.

Conference2019 28th International Conference on Computer Communication and Networks (ICCCN).

Date of Publication: 26 September 2019.

PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Abstract:

Vendor-managed inventory (VMI) is a commonly used collaborative inventory management policy in which manufacturers/vendors manage the inventory of retailers and take responsibility for making decisions related to the timing and extent of inventory replenishment. Several prerequisites exist for successfully implementing a VMI strategy like information sharing, trust, systems integration and long-term collaboration. However, in nowadays supply chain networks are becoming more complex, highly disjointed and geographically spread. As a consequence, the implementation of a VMI strategy may be a difficult task. In this paper, we propose a new interaction mechanism between retailers and vendors, which aims to improve their supply chain strategy and inventory policies based on a trustless and distributed mechanism. In particular, we use an autonomous trustless framework based on smart contracts and blockchain technology for governing the relationship between multiple vendors and multiple retailers. Finally, a use-case VMI scenario is presented along with several functional smart contracts. Tests performed using a local private blockchain illustrate the applicability of the proposed architecture along with the significant benefits for each participant.


Authors: Fran CasinoThomas K. DasaklisConstantinos Patsakis.

Date of Publication: September 2019.

Conference: 4th South-East Europe Design Automation, Computer Engineering, Computer Networks and Social Media Conference (SEEDA-CECNSM).

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Attachments:
Download this file (vendor.pdf)vendor.pdf[ ]443 kB

Abstract:

The introduction of remote attestation (RA) schemes has allowed academia and industry to enhance the security of their systems. The commercial products currently available enable only the validation of static properties, such as applications fingerprint, and do not handle runtime properties, such as controlflow correctness. This limitation pushed researchers towards the identification of new approaches, called runtime RA. However, those mainly work on embedded devices, which share very few common features with complex systems, such as virtual machines in a cloud. A naive deployment of runtime RA schemes for embedded devices on complex systems faces scalability problems, such as the representation of complex control-flows or slow verification phase. In this work, we present ScaRR: the first Scalable Runtime Remote attestation schema for complex systems. Thanks to its novel control-flow model, ScaRR enables the deployment of runtime RA on any application regardless of its complexity, by also achieving good performance. We implemented ScaRR and tested it on the benchmark suite SPEC CPU 2017. We show that ScaRR can validate on average 2M control-flow events per second, definitely outperforming existing solutions that support runtime RA on complex systems.


Authors: Flavio Toffalini; Eleonora Losiouk; Andrea Biondo; Jianying ZhouMauro Conti.

Date of Publication: September 2019.

Conference: 22nd International Symposium on Research in Attacks, Intrusions and Defenses (RAID 2019).

Attachments:
Download this file (scarr.pdf)scarr.pdf[ ]345 kB

Abstract:

A variety of solutions, e.g., Proof-of-Work (PoW), Proof-of-Stake (PoS), Proof-of-Burn (PoB), and Proof-of-Elapsed-Time (PoET), have been proposed to make consensus mechanism used by the blockchain technology more democratic, efficient, and scalable. However, these solutions have a number of limitations, e.g., PoW approach requires a huge amount of computational power, scales poorly, and wastes a lot of electrical energy. Recently, an innovative protocol called Algorand has been proposed to overcome these limitations. Algorand not only guarantees an overwhelming probability of linearity of the blockchain, but it also aims to solve the "blockchain trilemma" of decentralization, scalability, and security.

In this paper, we present a security analysis of Algorand. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first security analysis as well as the first formal study on Algorand. We designed an attack scenario in which a group of malicious users tries to break the protocol, or at least limit it to a reduced partition of network users, by exploiting a security flaw in the messages validation process of the Byzantine Agreement (BA). Since the source code or an official simulator for Algorand was not available at the time of our study, we created a simulator (which is available on request) to implement the protocol and assess the feasibility of our attack scenario. Our attack requires the attacker to merely have the trivial capability of establishing multiple connections with targeted nodes, and it costs practically nothing to the attacker. Our results show that it is possible to slow down the message validation process on honest nodes - which eventually forces them to select default values on the consensus - leaving the targeted nodes behind in the chain as compared to the non-attacked nodes. Even though our results are subject to the real implementation of the protocol, the core concept of our attack remains valid.


Authors: Mauro Conti; Ankit GangwalMichele Todero.

Conference: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security - ARES '19.

Date of Publication: August 2019.

Publisher: ACM Digital Library.

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EU flag Copyright © 2020 LOCARD. All rights reserved. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement nº 832735. This project reflects only the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.