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  1. Federated learning (FL) is an increasingly popular approach for machine learning (ML) when the training dataset is highly distributed. Clients perform local training on their datasets and the updates are then aggregated into the global model. Existing protocols for aggregation are either inefficient or don’t consider the case of malicious actors in the system. This is a major barrier to making FL an ideal solution for privacy-sensitive ML applications. In this talk, I will present ELSA, a secure aggregation protocol for FL that breaks this barrier - it is efficient and addresses the existence of malicious actors (clients + servers) at the core of its design. Similar to prior work Prio and Prio+, ELSA provides a novel secure aggregation protocol built out of distributed trust across two servers that keeps individual client updates private as long as one server is honest, defends against malicious clients, and is efficient end-to-end. Compared to prior works, the distinguishing theme in ELSA is that instead of the servers generating cryptographic correlations interactively, the clients act as untrusted dealers of these correlations without compromising the protocol’s security. This leads to a much faster protocol while also achieving stronger security at that efficiency compared to prior work. We introduce new techniques that retain privacy even when a server is malicious at a small added cost of 7-25% in runtime with a negligible increase in communication over the case of a semi-honest server. ELSA improves end-to-end runtime over prior work with similar security guarantees by big margins - single-aggregator RoFL by up to 305x (for the models we consider), and distributed-trust Prio by up to 8x (with up to 16x faster server-side protocol). Additionally, ELSA can be run in a bandwidth-saver mode for clients who are geographically bandwidth-constrained - an important property that is missing from prior works. 
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  2. Federated learning (FL) is an increasingly popular approach for machine learning (ML) in cases where the training dataset is highly distributed. Clients perform local training on their datasets and the updates are then aggregated into the global model. Existing protocols for aggregation are either inefficient, or don’t consider the case of malicious actors in the system. This is a major barrier in making FL an ideal solution for privacy-sensitive ML applications. We present ELSA, a secure aggregation protocol for FL, which breaks this barrier - it is efficient and addresses the existence of malicious actors at the core of its design. Similar to prior work on Prio and Prio+, ELSA provides a novel secure aggregation protocol built out of distributed trust across two servers that keeps individual client updates private as long as one server is honest, defends against malicious clients, and is efficient end-to-end. Compared to prior works, the distinguishing theme in ELSA is that instead of the servers generating cryptographic correlations interactively, the clients act as untrusted dealers of these correlations without compromising the protocol’s security. This leads to a much faster protocol while also achieving stronger security at that efficiency compared to prior work. We introduce new techniques that retain privacy even when a server is malicious at a small added cost of 7-25% in runtime with negligible increase in communication over the case of semi-honest server. Our work improves end-to-end runtime over prior work with similar security guarantees by big margins - single-aggregator RoFL by up to 305x (for the models we consider), and distributed trust Prio by up to 8x. 
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  3. Abstract The popularity of Tor has made it an attractive target for a variety of deanonymization and fingerprinting attacks. Location-based path selection algorithms have been proposed as a countermeasure to defend against such attacks. However, adversaries can exploit the location-awareness of these algorithms by strategically placing relays in locations that increase their chances of being selected as a client’s guard. Being chosen as a guard facilitates website fingerprinting and traffic correlation attacks over extended time periods. In this work, we rigorously define and analyze the guard placement attack . We present novel guard placement attacks and show that three state-of-the-art path selection algorithms—Counter-RAPTOR, DeNASA, and LASTor—are vulnerable to these attacks, overcoming defenses considered by all three systems. For instance, in one attack, we show that an adversary contributing only 0.216% of Tor’s total bandwidth can attain an average selection probability of 18.22%, 84× higher than what it would be under Tor currently. Our findings indicate that existing location-based path selection algorithms allow guards to achieve disproportionately high selection probabilities relative to the cost required to run the guard. Finally, we propose and evaluate a generic defense mechanism that provably defends any path selection algorithm against guard placement attacks. We run our defense mechanism on each of the three path selection algorithms, and find that our mechanism significantly enhances the security of these algorithms against guard placement attacks with only minimal impact to the goals or performance of the original algorithms. 
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  4. Abstract Recent work has shown that Tor is vulnerable to attacks that manipulate inter-domain routing to compromise user privacy. Proposed solutions such as Counter-RAPTOR [29] attempt to ameliorate this issue by favoring Tor entry relays that have high resilience to these attacks. However, because these defenses bias Tor path selection on the identity of the client, they invariably leak probabilistic information about client identities. In this work, we make the following contributions. First, we identify a novel means to quantify privacy leakage in guard selection algorithms using the metric of Max-Divergence. Max-Divergence ensures that probabilistic privacy loss is within strict bounds while also providing composability over time. Second, we utilize Max-Divergence and multiple notions of entropy to understand privacy loss in the worst-case for Counter-RAPTOR. Our worst-case analysis provides a fresh perspective to the field, as prior work such as Counter-RAPTOR only analyzed average case-privacy loss. Third, we propose modifications to Counter-RAPTOR that incorporate worst-case Max-Divergence in its design. Specifically, we utilize the exponential mechanism (a mechanism for differential privacy) to guarantee a worst-case bound on Max-Divergence/privacy loss. For the quality function used in the exponential mechanism, we show that a Monte-Carlo sampling-based method for stochastic optimization can be used to improve multi-dimensional trade-offs between security, privacy, and performance. Finally, we demonstrate that compared to Counter-RAPTOR, our approach achieves an 83% decrease in Max-Divergence after one guard selection and a 245% increase in worst-case Shannon entropy after 5 guard selections. Notably, experimental evaluations using the Shadow emulator shows that our approach provides these privacy benefits with minimal impact on system performance. 
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