Automatic Discovery of Protocol Manipulation Attacks in Large Scale Distributed Systems Implementations

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Most distributed systems are designed to meet application-prescribed metrics that ensure availability and high-performance. However, attacks can significantly degrade performance, limiting the practical utility of these systems in adversarial environments. Specifically, compromised participants can manipulate protocol semantics through attacks that target the messages exchanged with honest participants.

Finding attacks against performance in distributed systems implementations is a very challenging task due to (1) state-space explosion that occurs as attackers are more realistically modeled, (2) diversity of programming language, software, operating systems and the subtle interactions between the software components, (3) diversity of communication channels (wired or wireless communication, TCP or UDP, encrypted or not-encrypted), (4) difficulty of expressing performance as an invariant in the system, (5) difficulty of capturing real-world performance in a reproducible way, not only the system performance but the network conditions when that performance was obtained.

This project aims to build an easy-to-use and maintain, low cost platform to find reproducible, real, high-impact, malicious performance attacks on distributed systems implementations in realistic environment.



    Automated Adversarial Testing of Unmodified Wireless Routing Implementations E. Hoque, H. Lee, R. Potharaju, C. Killian, and C. Nita-Rotaru. To appear in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking (ToN), 2016.
    Gatling: Automatic Performance Attack Discovery in Large-Scale Distributed Systems Hyojeong Lee, Jeff Seibert, Dylan Fistrovic, Charles Killian, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. ACM Transactions on Information and System Security (TISSEC). 17, 4, Article 13 (April 2015). [PDF][BIBTEX]


    Leveraging State Information for Automated Attack Discovery in Transport Protocol Implementations Samuel Jero, Hyojeong Lee, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. 45th IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN), Jun. 2015. [PDF] [BIBTEX]
    Turret: A Platform for Automated Attack Finding in Unmodified Distributed System Implementations Hyojeong Lee, Jeff Seibert, Md. Endadul Hoque, Charles Killian, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. 34th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS), Jun. 2014. [PDF] [BIBTEX]
    Adversarial Testing of Wireless Routing Implementations Md. Endadul Hoque, Hyojeong Lee, Rahul Potharaju, Charles Killian, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. 6th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks (WiSec), Apr. 2013 [PDF][BIBTEX]
    A Platform for Finding Attacks in Unmodified Implementations of Intrusion Tolerant Systems Hyojeong Lee, Jeff Seibert, Charles Killian, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. Poster at 10th Usenix Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI), Oct. 2012 [PDF][POSTER]
    Gatling: Automatic Attack Discovery in Large-Scale Distributed Systems Hyojeong Lee, Jeff Seibert, Charles Killian, and Cristina Nita-Rotaru. In Proc. of 19th Annual Network & Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS), Feb. 2012. [PDF][BIBTEX]


    Ensuring Specification Compliance, Robustness, and Security of Wireless Network Protocols. Endadul Hoque. Ph.D. Thesis, Dec 2015. [PDF].
    Automated Performance Attack Discovery in Distributed System Implementations Hyojeong Lee. Ph.D. Thesis, Sep 2014. [PDF]



    Current Members

    • Byngchan An, Graduate Student
    • Endadul Hoque, Graduate Student
    • Samuel Jero, Graduate Student
    • Jun Zhang, Undergraduate Student

    Collaborators and Previous Members

    • Hyojeong Lee, Ph.D. 2014
    • Jeff Seibert, PhD, 2012
    • Dylan Fistrovic, B.S. 2013


This project is funded by grant CNS-1223834 from SaTC NSF. Principal Investigator: Cristina Nita-Rotaru (Purdue University) Co-Principal Investigator: Charles Killian (Purdue University and Google)