Provable Anonymity for the Real World

February 21, 2023
9:00am ET
Cummings 402
Speaker: Megumi Ando
Host: Diane Souvaine


The world is becoming increasingly digitally connected, spurring innovations and enabling new modes of communication. A downside to this, however, is that it is now easier than ever for powerful entities to strongly discourage digital communications by conducting mass surveillance of individuals’ internet activities. While proper encryption and authentication can secure the confidentiality of message contents, communication patterns (i.e., who is communicating with whom) can still leak from observed traffic in a distributed system. Onion routing is the most promising method for enabling anonymous communications. However, despite the widespread use of onion routing in the real world (e.g., Tor, Mixminion, Loopix), the theoretical foundations of onion routing have not been thoroughly studied. In this talk, I will discuss recent advances in onion routing protocols with provable anonymity guarantees.


Megumi Ando is currently a Lead Cybersecurity Research Scientist at the MITRE Corporation, leading independent research projects and serving as a technical consultant for federal agencies, such as the Department of Commerce. Her training in the mathematical foundations of computer science began at MIT where she received double B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and Mathematics as well as an M.Eng. degree in EECS. During her tenure at MITRE, she received a fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Brown University. She defended her dissertation on anonymous communication in 2020, under the mentorship of Prof. Anna Lysyanskaya (Cryptography) and Prof. Eli Upfal (Probabilistic Methods, Machine Learning).