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Dagstuhl Ubicomp - Abstract

Addressing the Location in Spontaneous Networks enabling Privacy and Security

Günter Müller

In the initial stages of data processing, protection of the private sphere was guaranteed by data protection based on centralized data processing. Through the creation of the Internet and the increasing networking of the computer, particularly between enterprises, new security problems arose which are solved by copying the old model of the firewall and strengthening authentification (PKI). These mechanisms, i.e. firewalls and PKI, are reaching their limits through the trend of spontaneous networking and the miniaturizing of intelligent end devices, together with the mobility of the user and end devices.

Increasingly smaller mobile and stationary devices are spontaneously networking with one another. With each transaction, data tracks are left which ultimately enable a linkage of a clearly identified device to a place and time and the relating to an individual. In such an environment, security, particularly the privacy of the user, is up for consideration: data accumulates on a massive scale over which the user has hardly any more control with regard to collection, access, alteration and distribution.

As a result, many experts proclaim the end of privacy through ubiquitous computing. They prophecy the omnipresence of computers, similar to the invisible presence of everyday electric motors.

The following problems arise:

  • Which models and abstraction processes can enable security in an environment in which devices network spontaneously with one another, i.e. without direct administrative intervention?
  • Mechanisms (like cryptography) are often no longer possible, as there is no more room on the chip for these functions due to miniaturization of the devices. Can privacy still be nevertheless protected? If yes, with which mechanisms?

In this paper, we propose a new device addressing which keeps the data track to a minimum: merely the location is used for addressing a device in spontaneous networking (e.g. in a radio-based network). For the analysis of this new way of addressing, we have produced the concept for a prototype as proof of feasibility. The theoretical analysis is based on a hybrid process which contains the element of qualitative and quantitive argumentation.

See also the corresponding position paper.


ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated July 7 2005 04:32:11 PM MET ml