Graduate Seminar: Global Investigation of Network Connection Tampering

Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Event Time 12:30 p.m. - 01:30 p.m. PT
Location ZOOM
Contact Email



As the Internet's user base and criticality of online services continue to expand daily, powerful adversaries like Internet censors are increasingly monitoring and restricting Internet traffic. These adversaries, powered by advanced network technology, perform large-scale connection tampering attacks seeking to prevent users from accessing specific online content, compromising Internet availability and integrity. In recent years, we have witnessed recurring censorship events affecting Internet users globally, with far-reaching social, financial, and psychological consequences, making them important to study. However, characterizing tampering attacks at the global scale is an extremely challenging problem, given intentionally opaque practices by adversaries, varying tampering mechanisms and policies across networks, evolving environments, sparse ground truth, and safety risks in collecting data.


In this talk, I will describe my research on building empirical methods to characterize connection tampering globally and investigate the network technology enabling tampering. First, I will introduce novel network measurement methods for locating and examining network devices that perform censorship. Next, I will describe a modular design for the Censored Planet Observatory that enables it to remotely and sustainably measure Internet censorship longitudinally in more than 200 countries. I will introduce time series analysis methods to detect key censorship events in longitudinal Censored Planet data, and reveal global censorship trends. Finally, I will describe exciting ongoing and future research directions, such as building intelligent measurement platforms.

Speaker Biography

Ram Sundara Raman is a PhD candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, advised by Prof. Roya Ensafi. His research lies in the intersection of computer security, privacy, and networking, employing empirical methods to study large-scale Internet attacks. Ram has been recognized as a Rising Star at the Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI), and was awarded the IRTF Applied Networking Research Prize in 2023. His work has helped produce one of the biggest active censorship measurement platforms, the Censored Planet Observatory, and has helped prevent large-scale attacks on end-to-end encryption.

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