Resilient Networks

Winter 2017

Yair Amir, chair of the Department of Computer Science, has led an effort to protect against the sort of attack that in 2010 disrupted thousands of internet networks in the United States and around the world.

Yair Amir

“As the internet becomes an important part of the infrastructure our society depends on, it is crucial to construct networks that are able to work even when part of the network is compromised,” notes Amir.

In effect, Amir says, he and his team have created “a system where no one is trusted.” Rather than relying on detecting sabotage that would divert traffic, the system sends redundant messages over multiple paths to avoid relying on any single node, or data center, to faithfully transmit messages to their intended destinations. The user can select different degrees of redundancy with higher cost.

The network service, now available to the public as open source, is built with enough redundancy “to prevent anything short of a complete simultaneous meltdown of multiple ISP backbones from interrupting the ability to deliver messages,” the researchers note, allowing critical services to continue to work without any downtime.

Yair’s team included doctoral students Thomas Tantillo and Amy Babay; Daniel Obenshain, PhD ’16; and researchers from Northeastern and Purdue universities and tech companies Spread Concepts LLC and LTN Global Communications.