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UT Arlington computer scientist wins NSF grant to help bolster online privacy

November 10, 2014

A University of Texas at Arlington computer scientist is studying smarter route selection and adaptive cover traffic as ways of protecting computer privacy.

Matthew Wright, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was awarded a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to quantify the capabilities of powerful adversaries and develop defenses to overcome them.

An autonomous system on the Internet is a collection of connected Internet Protocol routing addresses that define a clear route through the Internet.

"People use anonymity systems to protect their privacy on the Internet," Wright said. "But they are up against adversaries who are powerful eavesdroppers and are capable of active attacks."

Wright said the research aims to route traffic around the eavesdroppers, preventing them from learning enough to break the anonymity. The research also will look at users' traffic patterns and examine ways to add noise to the traffic to confuse adversaries.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said Wright's research will have an impact on the privacy of a broad class of users.

"With so many aspects of our lives happening online, it's crucial to protect the private information of individuals," Behbehani said.

Wright plans to use the Tor anonymity system in his research to evaluate his designs. Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It was initially developed by the U.S. Navy to protect government communications.

Wright also is developing a new private chat service that he believes will have even stronger privacy guarantees than provided by Tor.
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About UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.

University of Texas at Arlington

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