Name : Nikita Borisov

Institution : University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Nikita Borisov is an assistant professor of Elecrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois. His research interests are online privacy and Internet-scale distributed systems. He is the co-designer of the “off-the-record” (OTR) instant messaging protocol and was responsible for the first public analysis of 802.11 security. He served as co-chair of the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in 2007 and 2008. Prof. Borisov received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005 and a BMath from the University of Waterloo in 1998.



Publications :

P. Mittal and N. Borisov, Information Leaks in Structured Peer-to-peer Anonymous Communication Systems, in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 2008.

A.J. Lee, K. Minami, N. Borisov, Confidentiality-Preserving Distributed Proofs of Conjunctive Queries, in Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Information, Computer, and Communications Security (ASIACCS), 2009



Title of Project: Privacy in Open and Pervasive Authorization Systems


Computing systems are increasingly providing access and authorization based on policies and rules that span multiple administrative domains, using attribute-based access or distributed proofs instead of identity-based access control lists. Removing personal identity from the authorization decision allows encapsulation of organizational structures, but it also creates an opportunity to protect personal privacy and confidential business relationships. However, such protection is ineffective if the communication protocols used to access computing systems themselves reveal identity information.


My research concerns anonymous communication systems that hide identity information at the communication protocol layer. Building on successful research behind the currently deployed Tor network, I am studying how to provide anonymous communication on a global scale. This involves studying peer-to-peer approaches to organizing the network in order to support very large user and server populations, performance optimizations of the current protocols. My work looks at how to balance the sometimes-conflicting goals of performance, security, and privacy, and how to provide users with controls to pick the optimal trade-off point for their needs.


Additionally, I am working on protecting the privacy of the rules and context information used in distributed authorization. A full set of access policies can reveal confidential information about a business; likewise, the context used to make authorization decisions in pervasive systems often contains private (even intimate) facts inferred from sensors.  In my work, I have formalized privacy requirements of distributed proof systems, capturing both direct and indirect inferences, and developed privacy-preserving protocols to perform proofs without revealing the underlying rules and facts to all parties.