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traffic analyzing Chaum's digital mix


I have been thinking about the problem of traffic analysis of a 
remailer.  More specifically, the problem is how can Eve trace Bob, who 
is communicating with Alice through an ideal Chaumian digital mix?  (As 
most of you know, current remailers are missing many of the features of 
the digital mix Chaum specified in his CACM paper (at 
), thus making them extremely vulnerable to anyone with non-trivial 

The simplifying assumptions I use here are:
1.  there is one mix, which is perfectly secure and trustworthy (note 
    that multiple mixes do not increase untracebility over a single mix if 
    it is perfectly secure and trustworthy)
2.  anyone can monitor all traffic in and out of the mix, but no one can 
    link an incoming message with an outgoing one

The basic approach is to use this raw traffic information to calculate a 
SCORE for each user of the remailer with respect to Alice, where the 
user with the highest SCORE is the person Alice is most probably 
communicating with.  The idea is that with a Chaumian mix, every time 
Alice sends a message to Bob there is always a pattern of Alice sending 
a message to the mix, followed by Bob receiving a message from the mix 
during the next batch.  By counting the number of such correlations for 
each user over a period of time, and taking into account the fact that 
users who receive more messages from the mix will have higher numbers
of coincidental correlations, a SCORE can be calculated so that it would 
be a good indication over the long run of the probability that a particular 
user is communicating with Alice.

For a digital mix that does batching based on a fixed number of incoming 
messages, the SCORE for a user U can be calculated in the following way:
1.  for each mix batch i, calculate P(i)=lesser(# of messages sent by 
    Alice, # of messages subsequently received by user U)
2.  after a period of time t, calculate Q=sum(P(i))
3.  calculate the average value of Q of users with similar usage 
    patterns as user U
4.  SCORE(U) = Q / average(Q)

Now whether or not this approach actually works depends on whether the 
number of users with SCORE higher than Bob's SCORE converges to 0 as 
time t increases, and how quickly it converges.  Answering these two 
questions will require modeling the usage patterns of Alice, Bob, and 
the mix as a whole.  I'll try to do this for some simple cases in a later

Wei Dai

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