Privacy-Preserving P2P Data Sharing with OneSwarm

Tomas Isdal, Michael Piatek, Arvind Krishnamurthy, and Thomas Anderson
Appears in: 
CCR October 2010

Privacy—the protection of information from unauthorized disclosure is increasingly scarce on the Internet. The lack of privacy is particularly true for popular peer-to-peer data sharing applications such as BitTorrent where user behavior is easily monitored by third parties. Anonymizing overlays such as Tor and Freenet can improve user privacy, but only at a cost of substantially reduced performance. Most users are caught in the middle, unwilling to sacrifice either privacy or performance.

In this paper, we explore a new design point in this tradeoff between privacy and performance. We describe the design and implementation of a new P2P data sharing protocol, called OneSwarm, that provides users much better privacy than BitTorrent and much better performance than Tor or Freenet. A key aspect of the OneSwarm design is that users have explicit configurable control over the amount of trust they place in peers and in the sharing model for their data: the same data can be shared publicly, anonymously, or with access control, with both trusted and untrusted peers. OneSwarm’s novel lookup and transfer techniques yield a median factor of 3.4 improvement in download times relative to Tor and a factor of 6.9 improvement relative to Freenet. OneSwarm is publicly available and has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of users since its release.