Effective identities for trusted interactions in converged telecommunication systems
Balasubramaniyan, Vijay A.
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Telecommunication systems have evolved significantly and the recent convergence of telephony allows users to communicate through landlines, mobile phones and Voice over IP (VoIP) phones. Unfortunately this convergence has resulted in easy manipulation of caller identity, resulting in both VoIP spam and Caller ID spoofing. In this dissertation, we introduce the notion of effective identity which is a combination of mechanisms to (1) establish identity of the caller that is harder to manipulate, and (2) provide additional information about the caller. We first use effective identities to address the VoIP spam problem by proposing CallRank, a novel mechanism built around call duration and social network linkages to differentiate between a legitimate user and a spammer. To ensure that this mechanism is privacy preserving, we create a token framework that allows a user to prove the existence of a social network path between him and the user he is trying to initiate contact with, without actually revealing the path. We then look at the broader issue of determining identity across the entire telecommunication landscape to address Caller ID spoofing. Towards this, we develop PinDr0p, a technique to determine the provenance of a call - the source and the path taken by a call. In the absence of any verifiable metadata, provenance offers a means of uniquely identifying a call source. Finally, we use anomalies in timbre to develop London Calling, a mechanism to identify geography of a caller. Together, the contributions made in this dissertation create effective identities that can help address the new threats in a converged telecommunication infrastructure.