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Philipp Winter

Philipp Winter

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Computer Science, Princeton University

I am interested in computer networks and security, and why the two don't get along very well. I enjoy being part of all phases of a research project—from sketching ideas on a whiteboard, to implementation, and finally deployment and maintenance. To this end, I have worked in the three research areas listed below. I keep maintaining code I have developed in these research projects, so they are open-ended in some sense.

Keeping bad actors out of the Tor network
As communities grow in size, it becomes increasingly hard to keep out bad actors, and Tor is no exception because the network is run by volunteers. In 2013, I started developing exitmap, a fast and flexible scanner for Tor exit relays. If you have a background in functional programming, think about it as a map() interface for Tor exit relays. It allows you to run arbitrary, TCP-based tests over each exit relay. One of the main tasks of exitmap is to expose and block malicious and misbehaving exit relays. I recently broadened my scope to Sybil relays, sets of Tor relays that are under the control of a single entity. I am developing sybilhunter which is meant to assist in finding and analysing Sybils.

Censorship analysis
Early on in my Ph.D. studies, I became interested in the Great Firewall of China (GFW). I was first exposed to the GFW in 2011, when trying to understand how it blocks the Tor network. I have since revisited the topic several times, to understand how the GFW fails over space and time, and how its active probing component is designed. As part of my work on the Tor network, I also helped characterise—and circumvent—a censorship system in Ethiopia.

Traffic obfuscation
Motivated by my work on censorship systems, I became interested in traffic obfuscation, i.e., shaping network traffic in a way that it is hard to classify and block. I started by developing a small tool for server-side circumvention. It was designed to prevent the GFW from recognising Tor handshakes on the wire. The tool transparently rewrites the window size in a SYN-ACK segment, forcing the client to split its initial payload across two segment instead of one. Back in 2012, the GFW would not reassemble TCP streams, rendering it unable to spot circumvention traffic “protected” by this tool. I then went on and developed ScrambleSuit, a polymorphic traffic obfuscation protocol. ScrambleSuit can protect against the GFW's active probing attacks by relying on a “password” that is shared between client and server. ScrambleSuit has since been superseded by the faster and more elegant obfs4, which is no longer maintained by me.

Tor upgrades to make anonymous publishing safer

Mar 20, 2017 01:56 am UTC| Technology

In the coming months, the Seattle-based nonprofit The Tor Project will be making some changes to improve how the Tor network protects users privacy and security. The free network lets users browse the internet anonymously....

Securing web browsing: protecting the Tor network

May 18, 2016 08:28 am UTC| Insights & Views Technology

There are more than 865 encryption tools in use worldwide, all addressing different aspects of a common problem. People want to protect information: hard drives from oppressive governments, physical location from stalkers,...

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Economy

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USD/INR likely to trade higher towards 66.0 mark with increasing odds to rally through the psychological resistance, says Scotiabank

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UK gilts plunge despite worse-than-expected March retail sales data; BoE’s MPC members’ speech in focus

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Australian March employment rises in March, signals optimistic outlook for full year

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Politics

Rise of cryptocurrencies could curb American power

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South Africa's future hinges on Ramaphosa's strategic skills

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Is full transparency good for democracy?

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Empowering the powerless: Let's end energy poverty

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How neoliberalism is damaging your mental health

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Science

Eyebrows Were Crucial For Human Survival, Study Says

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Undetected Asteroid Nearly Missed The Earth, Shows Glaring Holes In Detection Capabilities

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Elon Musk Proves How Crazy He Is With Party Balloon And Bouncy House Idea

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USDA Is Cool With Scientists Genetically Editing Food

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Reputed Journal Retracts Flawed CRISPR Paper A Little Too Late

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Technology

New Castlevania Game To Be Release On Mobile

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‘Doom’ Soundtrack Is Now On Vinyl, Feel That Warm Music Of Demon Slaying

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New Electric Skateboard Only Costs $749 Now

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Free Mobile Game From Google Can Teach Adults How To Code

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God Of War GOTY Prospect, Solving One Of Gaming’s Greatest Hang-ups

God of War has yet to officially release but publications are already hyping it up for players, with its prospect of being an obvious Game of the Year contender getting plenty of attention. Many have also commented on how...
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January 31 00:00 UTC 114152114152m

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