Creator of Knowledge
Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Anonymous Communications in Computer Networks

Anonymous Communications in Computer Networks
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Author(s): Marga Nácher (Technical University of Valencia, Spain), Carlos Tavares Calafate (Technical University of Valencia, Spain), Juan-Carlos Cano (Technical University of Valencia, Spain) and Pietro Manzoni (Technical University of Valencia, Spain)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch026


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In our daily life no one questions the necessity of privacy protection. Nevertheless, our privacy is often put at risk. The first problem has to do with the fact that privacy itself is a concept difficult to define. As a matter of fact, in many countries the concept has been confused with data protection, which interprets privacy in terms of the management of personal information. Nowadays, the term privacy is extended to territorial and communications protection. We will focus on the privacy of electronic communications. When referring to this type of communication, the first aspect we think about is security. In fact, this concept is widely discussed, and nowadays we often hear about threats and attacks to networks. Security attacks are usually split into active and passive attacks. We consider that an active attack takes place when an attacker injects or modifies traffic in the network with different purposes, such as denial of service or gaining unauthorized access. Unlike active attacks, a passive attack takes place whenever the attacker merely inspects the network by listening to packets, never injecting any packet. Malicious nodes hope to be ‘invisible’ in order to collect as much network information as possible just by using timing analysis and eavesdropping routing information. A way to avoid this type of attack is to anonymize both data and routing traffic. In this manner we can hide the identities of communicating nodes and avoid data flow traceability. Various scenarios can be devised where anonymity is desirable. In a commercial transactions context, if we think about an off-line purchase, we accept that some users prefer to use cash when buying some goods and services, because anonymity makes them more comfortable with the transaction. Offering anonymity to online commerce would increase the number of transactions. Military communications are another typical example where not only privacy but also anonymity are crucial for the success of the corresponding mission. Finally, if we attend a meeting where some delicate matter is being voted on, it could be necessary for the identities to remain hidden. Again, in this case, anonymity is required.

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