Riverbed: Enforcing User-defined Privacy Constraints in Distributed Web Services


Frank Wang, MIT CSAIL; Ronny Ko and James Mickens, Harvard University


Riverbed is a new framework for building privacy-respecting web services. Using a simple policy language, users define restrictions on how a remote service can process and store sensitive data. A transparent Riverbed proxy sits between a user's front-end client (e.g., a web browser) and the back-end server code. The back-end code remotely attests to the proxy, demonstrating that the code respects user policies; in particular, the server code attests that it executes within a Riverbed-compatible managed runtime that uses IFC to enforce user policies. If attestation succeeds, the proxy releases the user's data, tagging it with the user-defined policies. On the server-side, the Riverbed runtime places all data with compatible policies into the same universe (i.e., the same isolated instance of the full web service). The universe mechanism allows Riverbed to work with unmodified, legacy software; unlike prior IFC systems, Riverbed does not require developers to reason about security lattices, or manually annotate code with labels. Riverbed imposes only modest performance overheads, with worst-case slowdowns of 10% for several real applications.

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@inproceedings {226004,
author = {Frank Wang and Ronny Ko and James Mickens},
title = {Riverbed: Enforcing User-defined Privacy Constraints in Distributed Web Services},
booktitle = {16th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 19)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-931971-49-2},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {615--630},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi19/presentation/wang-frank},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb,

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