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  1. The distributed cryptocurrency networking is critical because the information delivered through it drives the mining consensus protocol and the rest of the operations. However, the cryptocurrency peer-to-peer (P2P) network remains vulnerable, and the existing security approaches are either ineffective or inefficient because of the permissionless requirement and the broadcasting overhead. We design a Lightweight and Identifier-Oblivious eNgine (LION) for the anomaly detection of the cryptocurrency networking. LION is not only effective in permissionless networking but is also lightweight and practical for the computation-intensive miners. We build LION for anomaly detection and use traffic analyses so that it minimally affects the mining rate and is substantially superior in its computational efficiency than the previous approaches based on machine learning. We implement a LION prototype on an active Bitcoin node to show that LION yields less than 1% of mining rate reduction subject to our prototype, in contrast to the state-of-the-art machine-learning approaches costing 12% or more depending on the algorithms subject to our prototype, while having detection accuracy of greater than 97% F1-score against the attack prototypes and real-world anomalies. LION therefore can be deployed on the existing miners without the need to introduce new entities in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
  2. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) generates and distributes digital certificates to provide the root of trust for securing digital networking systems. To continue securing digital networking in the quantum era, PKI should transition to use quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms. The cryptography community is developing quantum-resistant primitives/algorithms, studying, and analyzing them for cryptanalysis and improvements. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) selected finalist algorithms for the post-quantum digital signature cipher standardization, which are Dilithium, Falcon, and Rainbow. We study and analyze the feasibility and the processing performance of these algorithms in memory/size and time/speed when used for PKI, including the key generation from the PKI end entities (e.g., a HTTPS/TLS server), the signing, and the certificate generation by the certificate authority within the PKI. The transition to post-quantum from the classical ciphers incur changes in the parameters in the PKI, for example, Rainbow I significantly increases the certificate size by 163 times when compared with RSA 3072. Nevertheless, we learn that the current X.509 supports the NIST post-quantum digital signature ciphers and that the ciphers can be modularly adapted for PKI. According to our empirical implementations-based study, the post-quantum ciphers can increase the certificate verification time cost compared to the current classicalmore »cipher and therefore the verification overheads require careful considerations when using the post-quantum-cipher-based certificates.« less
  3. Blockchain relies on the underlying peer-to-peer (p2p) networking to broadcast and get up-to-date on the blocks and transactions. It is therefore imperative to have high p2p connectivity for the quality of the blockchain system operations. High p2p networking connectivity ensures that a peer node is connected to multiple other peers providing a diverse set of observers of the current state of the blockchain and transactions. However, in a permissionless blockchain network, using the peer identifiers—including the current approach of counting the number of distinct IP addresses and port numbers—can be ineffective in measuring the number of peer connections and estimating the networking connectivity. Such current approach is further challenged by the networking threats manipulating the identifiers. We build a robust estimation engine for the p2p networking connectivity by sensing and processing the p2p networking traffic. We implement a working Bitcoin prototype connected to the Bitcoin Mainnet to validate and improve our engine’s performances and evaluate the estimation accuracy and cost efficiency of our estimation engine.
  4. Because Bitcoin P2P networking is permissionless by the application requirement, it is vulnerable against networking threats based on identity/credential manipulations such as Sybil and spoofing attacks. The current Bitcoin implementation keeps track of its peer's networking misbehaviors through ban score. In this paper, we investigate the security problems of the ban-score mechanism and discover that the ban score is not only ineffective against the Bitcoin Message-based DoS attacks but also vulnerable to a Defamation attack. In the Defamation attack, the network adversary can exploit the ban-score mechanism to defame innocent peers.
  5. While the blockchain technology provides strong cryptographic protection on the ledger and the system operations, the underlying blockchain networking remains vulnerable due to potential threats such as denial of service (DoS), Eclipse, spoofing, and Sybil attacks. Effectively detecting such malicious events should thus be an essential task for securing blockchain networks and services. Due to its importance, several studies investigated anomaly detection in Bitcoin and blockchain networks, but their analyses mainly focused on the blockchain ledger in the application context (e.g., transactions) and targets specific types of attacks (e.g., double-spending, deanonymization, etc). In this study, we present a security mechanism based on the analysis of blockchain network traffic statistics (rather than ledger data) to detect malicious events, through the functions of data collection and anomaly detection. The data collection engine senses the underlying blockchain traffic and generates multi-dimensional data streams in a periodic manner. The anomaly detection engine then detects anomalies from the created data instances based on semi-supervised learning, which is capable of detecting previously unseen patterns, and we introduce our profiling-based detection engine implemented on top of AutoEncoder (AE). Our experimental results support the effectiveness of the presented security mechanism for accurate, online detection of malicious events frommore »blockchain networking traffic data. We also show further reduction in time complexity (up to 66.8% for training and 85.7% for testing), without any performance degradation using feature prioritization compared to the utilization of the entire features.« less
  6. Colorado-Washington Security Scholars Program (CWSSP) is a scholarship program for training and educating cybersecurity engineering students. Hosted in two universities for the students in the cybersecurity degree programs, the cross-campus program emphasizes virtual teamwork and collaborations in learning cybersecurity and executing the cybersecurity projects. This paper explains how the CWSSP program uniquely enhances the cybersecurity education and workforce development particularly focusing on the mechanisms to incorporate collaborations for the student scholars' training and the outcomes of the collaborations. We share our experience and insights from delivering the scholarship program in this paper.
  7. In blockchain and cryptocurrency, miners participate in a proof-of-work-based distributed consensus protocol to find and generate a valid block, process transactions, and earn the corresponding reward. Because cryptocurrency is designed to adapt to the dynamic miner network size, a miner's participation affects the block difficulty which sets the expected amount of work to find a valid block. We study the dependency between the mining power control and the block difficulty and study a rational miner utilizing such dependency to dynamically control its mining power over a longer horizon than just the impending block. More specifically, we introduce I-O Mining strategy where a miner takes advantage of the block difficulty adjustment rule and toggles between mining with full power and power off between the difficulty adjustments. In I-O Mining, the miner influences the block difficulty and mines only when the difficulty is low, gaming and violating the design integrity of the mining protocol for its profit gain. We analyze the I-O Mining's incentive/profit gain over the static-mining strategies and its negative impact on the rest of the blockchain mining network in the block/transaction scalability. Our results show that I-O Mining becomes even more effective and profitable as there are greater competitionsmore »for mining and the reward and the cost difference becomes smaller, which are the trends in cryptocurrencies.« less
  8. Quantum computing challenges the computational hardness assumptions anchoring the security of public-key ciphers, such as the prime factorization and the discrete logarithm problem. To prepare for the quantum era and withstand the attacks equipped with quantum computing, the security and cryptography communities are designing new quantum-resistant public-key ciphers. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is collecting and standardizing the post-quantum ciphers, similarly to its past involvements in establishing DES and AES as symmetric cipher standards. The NIST finalist algorithms for public-key signatures are Dilithium, Falcon, and Rainbow. Finding common ground to compare these algorithms can be difficult because of their design, the underlying computational hardness assumptions (lattice based vs. multivariate based), and the different metrics used for security strength analyses in the previous research (qubits vs. quantum gates). We overcome such challenges and compare the security and the performances of the finalist post-quantum ciphers of Dilithium, Falcon, and Rainbow. For security comparison analyses, we advance the prior literature by using the depth-width cost for quantum circuits (DW cost) to measure the security strengths and by analyzing the security in Universal Quantum Gate Model and with Quantum Annealing. For performance analyses, we compare the algorithms’ computational loads in the executionmore »time as well as the communication costs and implementation overheads when integrated with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/Internet Protocol (IP). Our work presents a security comparison and performance analysis as well as the trade-off analysis to inform the post-quantum cipher design and standardization to protect computing and networking in the post-quantum era.« less