Persistent Personal Names
for Globally Connected Mobile Devices
Bryan Ford, Jacob Strauss, Chris Lesniewski-Laas,
Sean Rhea, Frans Kaashoek, Robert Morris
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Unmanaged Internet Architecture (UIA)
provides zero-configuration connectivity among mobile devices
through personal names.
Users assign personal names through an ad hoc device introduction process
requiring no central allocation.
names bind securely to the global identities of their target devices
independent of network location.
Each user manages one namespace,
shared among all the user's devices
and always available on each device.
Users can also name other users
to share resources with trusted acquaintances.
Devices with naming relationships automatically arrange connectivity when
possible, both in ad hoc networks
and using global infrastructure when available.
A UIA prototype demonstrates these capabilities
using optimistic replication
for name resolution and group management
and a routing algorithm exploiting the user's social network
Network-enabled mobile devices such as
personal digital assistants,
gaming consoles, and digital cameras
are becoming ubiquitous in the lives of ordinary people.
The proliferation of these devices
makes secure global peer-to-peer connectivity between them
While on a trip, for example,
a user in a cyber cafe
may wish to copy photos from his WiFi-enabled camera
to his PC at home for storage and backup.
Two users who meet in a park or other off-Internet location
may wish to connect their WiFi devices
to exchange photos or other information,
and later re-establish a connection between the same devices
over the Internet after returning to their homes,
without the risk of a third party intercepting the connection.
A Voice-over-IP user would like his WiMax phone
to be easily reachable by his friends wherever he and they are located,
but not to be reachable by telemarketers.
Convenient global communication over the Internet,
currently requires the target device
to have both a global name and a static, public IP address.
Users must register with central naming authorities to obtain global names,
and mobile personal devices usually have dynamic IP addresses
behind firewalls or network address translators .
such as Dynamic DNS ,
Mobile IP ,
and Virtual Private Networks 
provide piecemeal solutions
to these problems,
but the configuration effort and technical expertise they require
makes them deployable only by organizations
with dedicated network administration staff.
User interface refinements alone cannot overcome this deployment roadblock,
because the protocols
depend on centralized resources--global domain names and static, public “home” IP addresses--that are not part of most consumer-oriented Internet service packages.
Ordinary users require a solution
that “just works.”
The Unmanaged Internet Architecture (UIA)
is a peer-to-peer connectivity architecture
that gives nontechnical users a simple and intuitive way
to connect their mobile personal devices via convenient personal names
organized into personal groups.
A user can merge multiple UIA devices to form a personal group,
after which the devices work together to offer
secure remote access to any device in the group from any other.
The devices forming the group
present the user with a shared personal namespace,
which they optimistically replicate [26,28,47]
to ensure constant availability on each device
whether on or off the Internet.
The devices gossip namespace changes
as connectivity permits ,
and can propagate updates via mobile devices
carried by the user .
UIA interprets personal names relative to personal groups,
so users can assign concise, meaningful names
instead of long globally unique names
In this way UIA conforms to the intuitive model
with which users already manage their cell phones' address books.
Users normally create personal names
by introducing devices locally, on a common WiFi network for example.
Once created, these names remain persistently bound
to their targets
as devices move.
Personal names are intended to supplement
and not replace global DNS names :
users can refer to personal names like phone
alongside global names like usenix.org
in the same applications.
Different users can introduce their devices
to name other users
and link their respective personal groups.
Bob can refer to his friend Alice as Alice,
and if Alice calls her VoIP phone phone
then Bob can make calls to Alice's phone
using the name phone.Alice.
In this way, UIA adapts peer-to-peer social networking ideas
previously explored for
other purposes [38,31,10,29,39]
to form a user-friendly peer-to-peer naming infrastructure.
Users can also create and collect names into ad hoc shared groups
to reflect common interests or informal organizations.
UIA devices cooperate in an overlay routing protocol
to provide robust location-independent connectivity in the face of
changing IP addresses, Internet routing failures, network address translators,
or isolation from central network infrastructure.
Although scalable routing with location-independent node identities
is inherently challenging in general ,
UIA focuses on routing among friends and nearby neighbors
in the user's social network.
We expect the UIA routing algorithm to scale well
because each node only consumes storage and bandwidth
to track other nodes in its immediate neighborhood.
UIA makes the following primary contributions,
expanding on previously proposed ideas .
First, UIA introduces a simple and intuitive model
for connecting mobile devices into personal groups,
providing ad hoc user identities, personal names, and secure remote access,
without requiring the user to manage keys or certificates explicitly.
Second, UIA presents a novel gossip and replication protocol
to manage the naming and group state required by this user model,
adapting optimistic replication principles
previously developed for file systems and databases.
Third, UIA leverages social networking
to create a scalable overlay routing algorithm
that can provide robust connectivity among social friends and neighbors
without relying on central infrastructure.
The next section introduces the operation of UIA devices
from a non-technical user's viewpoint.
Section 3 describes UIA's design at a high level,
Section 4 presents UIA's naming system in depth,
followed by the routing layer design in Section 5.
Section 6 summarizes implementation status
and Section 7 evaluates the performance of the prototype.
Section 8 discusses future work,
Section 9 presents related work,
and Section 10 concludes.
2 User Experience
This section describes UIA's operating principles
from the perspective of a non-technical user;
later sections detail
how the system provides this user experience.
A UIA device ideally ships from its manufacturer
pre-configured with a name for
itself such as laptop or phone,
which the user can keep or change as desired.
The device learns additional names as its user introduces
it to other devices owned by the same user or different users.
The introduction process assigns persistent names
by which the device can securely refer to other devices.
In a typical introduction,
the owner(s) of two devices bring the devices together physically
and connect them to a common local-area network.
Each user then invokes a local-area rendezvous tool
similar to Bonjour's  on his device,
finds the other device on the network,
and selects “Introduce.”
Each device displays an introduction key
consisting of three words chosen randomly
from a dictionary,
as shown in Figure 1.
Each user then picks the other device's introduction key
from a list of three random keys.
If one of the devices has unintentionally connected to the wrong endpoint,
such as an impersonator on the same network,
then the matching key is unlikely to appear on the list,
so the user picks “None of the above”
and the introduction procedure aborts.
Unlike other analogous
UIA uses short, user-friendly “one-time” keys
that only need to withstand online and not offline attacks,
and its multiple-choice design prevents users
from just clicking “OK” without actually comparing the keys.
Bob and Alice introduce their devices
Users can follow the same procedure
to introduce UIA devices remotely across the Internet,
as long as one device has a global DNS name or IP address
and the users have a trustworthy channel
through which to exchange introduction keys:
e.g., a phone conversation
or an authenticated chat session.
We also envision alternative introduction mechanisms
adapted to specific rendezvous channels
such as E-mail, web sites, SMS messages,
or short-range wireless links;
the details of particular introduction mechanisms
are not crucial to the UIA architecture.
A user can introduce UIA devices
either to merge his own devices into a
personal group sharing a common namespace,
or to create named
links from his own group to other users' personal groups.
The following sections describe these two forms of introduction,
and other important group management actions,
with the help of an example scenario
illustrated in Figure 2.
Example Personal Device Scenario
At Time 1 in the scenario,
Bob purchases a new laptop and Internet phone,
which come pre-configured with the default names laptop and phone,
At Time 2, Bob uses UIA's local rendezvous tool on each device
to find the other device on his home WiFi network
and selects “Introduce devices” on each.
Bob chooses the “Merge devices” option in the introduction dialogs
(see Figure 1)
to merge the devices into a personal group.
The devices in Bob's group gossip both existing names
and subsequent changes to the group's namespace
as physical network connectivity permits.
Each device attempts to preserve connectivity to other named
devices as they leave the network and reappear at other locations,
without user intervention whenever possible.
Bob now sees his two personal names phone and laptop
on both devices,
and can use these names for local and remote access.
Working on his laptop at home,
he uses his personal name phone
to reach the phone via his home WiFi LAN.
When Bob subsequently takes his laptop on a trip, he can
remotely access his home phone from his laptop over the Internet
(e.g., to check his voice messages),
still using the name phone.
UIA uses cryptography to guarantee that
an adversary cannot impersonate the device Bob calls phone,
and cannot eavesdrop on his communication.
With the second form of introduction,
users link their personal groups together
and assign user names to each other,
but retain exclusive control over their respective personal groups.
In the example scenario,
Bob purchases a new WiFi-enabled cell phone at Time 3
and meets Alice at a cafe
before he has merged his cell phone
with his other devices.
Bob finds Alice's iPod using his cell phone's local rendezvous tool
and selects “Introduce as a new contact” (see Figure 1),
and Alice does likewise.
Bob's phone suggests Alice's self-chosen user name Alice,
but Bob can override this default
(e.g., to Alice-Smith
or Alice-from-OSDI) if he already knows another Alice.
Bob and Alice can now refer to each others' devices
by combining device names with user names
in DNS-like dotted notation.
If Alice runs a web server on her home PC,
named PC in Alice's personal namespace,
then Bob can connect to Alice's server
by typing PC.Alice into his laptop's web browser,
exactly as he would use a global DNS name like usenix.org.
If Alice's personal web server is UIA-aware,
she can use her name Bob
in the server's access control lists
so that only Bob's personal devices may browse certain private areas.
UIA authenticates clients
so that no one can impersonate Bob's devices
to gain access to these areas.
Bob now returns home and merges his cell phone
with his home phone,
as shown at Time 4 in Figure 2.
Bob's home phone in turn gossips the cell phone's group membership
to Bob's laptop,
so the laptop and cell phone can name each other
without him having to merge them explicitly.
Alice's devices similarly gossip her new link named Bob
and learn about Bob's three devices,
after which she can, for example, refer to Bob's laptop
Users can access or edit their personal groups
from any of their devices
while other devices are unreachable.
If Bob and Alice are on a bus together
and disconnected from the Internet,
Alice can still reach Bob's laptop
from her iPod via her name laptop.Bob,
even if they have left their other devices at home.
Bob and Alice can continue adding names for contacts they meet on the bus,
and their other devices learn the new names via gossip later
when they re-connect.
Unfortunately, both of Bob's phones
happened to have identical default names of phone,
resulting in their names conflicting
in his newly merged namespace.
UIA notifies Bob of the conflict,
and he can continue using the non-conflicting name laptop,
but must resolve the conflict before the name phone will work again.
Bob resolves the conflict
on his cell phone at Time 5,
by renaming it cell
while leaving the home phone with the name phone.
Bob's other devices learn the resolved name bindings via gossip,
as do Alice's devices,
so Alice now sees Bob's phones
as phone.Bob and cell.Bob.
If Bob makes conflicting namespace changes
on two of his devices
while they are partitioned from each other,
UIA detects the conflict once the devices reconnect.
Bob can continue using other non-conflicting names
in the same group
while conflicts exist,
and he can resolve such conflicts at leisure on any of his devices.
In addition to personal groups,
users can create shared groups
to help organize and share their personal names.
Bob and Alice discover at Time 6
that they share an interest in photography,
and decide to start a photo club
for themselves and other friends sharing this interest.
To enable members of the club to find each other easily
and share photos among their personal devices,
Bob uses his laptop to create a shared group
named PhotoClub in his personal namespace.
the shared group's only member is Bob himself.
To add Alice to the group,
Bob drags the name Alice from his personal group
copying his name binding for Alice into the shared group
and making her the second member.
Bob can similarly add other friends to PhotoClub,
and these names automatically appear in Alice's view of the group
the devices gossip the changes.
Although Alice can now refer to the new group as PhotoClub.Bob,
she might like this group to appear
directly in her own personal group
instead of naming it relative to Bob.
Alice drags the PhotoClub name
from Bob's personal group into her own,
giving herself a copy of the name
leading to the same shared group.
She can now refer to group members using the same names that Bob uses,
such as Charlie.PhotoClub.
2.7 Group Ownership
Groups and Ownership
One or more members of a UIA group
may be designated as owners,
or members allowed to modify the group.
As Figure 3 illustrates,
Bob's devices laptop, phone, and cell
are owners of his personal group by default,
allowing Bob to edit his personal group
using any of his devices.
The names Alice and PhotoClub are not owners,
so Alice and members of PhotoClub
can only browse and resolve names in Bob's namespace.
Groups can own other groups.
When Bob creates his shared PhotoClub group,
UIA automatically includes a name Bob in the new group
that gives Bob's personal group
ownership of the new group.
After adding Alice to the group,
Bob can give her co-ownership
by clicking the owner flag by her name in the group listing,
enabling her to add or remove other members herself.
Ownership is transitive:
Bob can modify PhotoClub using his laptop
because Bob's laptop is an owner of Bob's personal group
and Bob's personal group is an owner of PhotoClub.
2.8 Security and Ownership Revocation
Returning to the scenario in Figure 2,
Bob loses his cell phone at Time 7,
and he is not sure whether it was stolen or just temporarily misplaced.
If the cell phone was stolen
and has no local user authentication
such as a password or fingerprint reader,
the thief might obtain
not only Bob's data on the cell phone itself,
but also remote access to services authorized to his personal group
via UIA names.
capable of accessing sensitive information remotely
should therefore provide strong local user authentication,
and should encrypt personal data (including UIA state)
stored on the device,
as Apple's FileVault does for example .
The details of local user authentication and encryption are orthogonal to UIA,
To minimize potential damage
if a thief does break into Bob's user account on his cell phone,
Bob can revoke the cell phone's ownership
of his personal group.
If the cell phone re-appears
and Bob realizes that he just misplaced it,
then he can “undo” the revocation
and return the phone to its normal status.
If the cell phone remains missing, however,
UIA ensures that no one
can remotely access personal information or services on Bob's other devices
via the lost phone once the revocation announcement has propagated
to those devices.
Similarly, the cell phone loses its access to the files Alice shared with Bob
as soon as Alice's PC, on which the files reside,
learns of the revocation from any of Bob's remaining devices.
2.9 Ownership Disputes
Revocation cuts both ways:
a thief might try to “hijack” Bob's personal group,
using the stolen cell phone to revoke the ownership of Bob's other devices
before Bob finds that the phone is missing.
In UIA's current ownership scheme
in which all owners have full and equal authority over a group,
Bob's devices cannot distinguish the “real” Bob from an impostor
once a stolen device's local access control is broken.
UIA therefore allows any device
to dispute another device's revocation of its ownership.
In the example scenario,
when Bob next uses his laptop,
UIA informs him that his laptop's ownership of his personal group
has been revoked by the cell phone,
which Bob realizes was stolen.
In response, Bob issues
a revocation of the cell phone's ownership
from his laptop.
The two mutual revocations
effectively split Bob's original personal group
into two new, independent groups:
one containing only the cell phone,
the other containing Bob's remaining devices.
All existing UIA names referring to Bob's old personal group,
and any access authorizations based on those names,
become unusable and must be manually updated
to point to the appropriate new group.
Alice's name Bob for example
is now marked “disputed” in Alice's namespace,
and Alice's PC rejects attempts by any of Bob's devices
to access the files she shared with Bob earlier using that UIA name.
To update her name for Bob and safely renew his access,
Alice can re-introduce her devices directly to Bob's
the next time they meet,
or obtain a fresh link to Bob's new personal group
from a trusted mutual friend who already has one.
Group ownership disputes need not be permanent.
Suppose two people who co-own a shared group get into an argument,
and split the group by issuing mutual revocations.
If the original co-owners later settle their differences,
they can undo their conflicting revocations
or simply merge their respective “splinter” groups back together
via UIA's normal merge mechanism.
Links to the original group become unusable during the dispute,
but function again normally after the dispute is resolved.
3 Basic Design
This section outlines UIA's high-level design,
which consists of separate naming and routing layers
that together realize the user experience described above.
Sections 4 and 5
detail the naming and routing layers, respectively.
UIA devices identify each other
using cryptographically unique endpoint identifiers or EIDs.
Whereas DNS maps a name to an IP address,
UIA maps a personal device name such as Bob's laptop
to an EID.
Unlike IP addresses,
EIDs are stable
and do not change when devices re-connect or move.
UIA's routing layer tracks mobile hosts by their EIDs
as they change IP addresses,
and can forward traffic by EID
when IP-level communication fails
due to NAT or other Internet routing discontinuities.
A UIA device creates each EID it needs
by generating a fresh public/private key pair
and then computing a cryptographic hash of the public key.
As in SFS ,
EIDs are cryptographically unique, self-configuring, and self-certifying,
but not human-readable.
As in HIP ,
UIA-aware network transports and applications
use EIDs in place of IP addresses to identify communication endpoints.
(UIA can also disguise EIDs as “actual” IP addresses
for compatibility with unmodified legacy applications,
as described later in Section 6.)
An EID corresponds to a particular user's presence on a particular device.
A user who owns or has access to several devices
has a separate EID for each.
A device accessed by only one user needs only one EID,
but a device shared among multiple users
via some form of login mechanism
creates a separate EID for each user account.
Unlike cryptographic host identifiers in SFS and HIP, therefore,
EIDs are not only stable but personal.
Personal EIDs allow multiple users of a shared UIA host to run
independent network services on the device. Since each user's
services bind to the user's EID rather than to a host-wide IP
address, UIA-aware network applications can run exclusively in the
context of the user and rely on UIA to provide user-granularity
authentication and access control.
When Bob connects his laptop to the HTTP port
at the EID to which PC.Alice resolves, he knows he is connecting
to Alice's personal web server and not that of another user with
an account on the same PC.
Alice's web server similarly knows that the connection is coming from Bob
and not from someone else using laptop,
because her name laptop.Bob resolves to an EID
specific to Bob's account on his laptop.
3.2 Naming Principles
Each UIA device
acts as an ad hoc name server
to support name lookups and synchronize namespace state across devices.
UIA names follow the same formatting rules as DNS names,
consisting of a series of labels separated by dots,
and devices resolve UIA names one label at a time from right to left.
To resolve the name PC.Alice,
Bob's laptop first resolves the rightmost component Alice
to find Alice's personal group,
and from there resolves the second component PC
to find the EID for Alice's PC as named in Alice's personal group.
Whereas DNS resolution
traverses a strictly hierarchical tree of “zones”
starting from a centrally-managed global root zone,
each UIA device has a unique root for resolving UIA names,
and users can link UIA groups to form arbitrary graphs.
After Bob meets Alice at Time 3 in Figure 2,
Bob's “root” group for UIA name resolution,
corresponding to his personal group,
appears to Alice as a “sub-group” named Bob.
Alice's “root” group appears to Bob
as a “sub-group” named Alice.
Since Bob's and Alice's naming relationship forms a cycle
in the graph of UIA groups,
Bob could for example refer to his own phone
via the redundant name phone.Bob.Alice.
UIA groups may at times contain label conflicts,
or bindings of a single name to multiple distinct targets.
When Bob at Time 4
merges his new cell phone with its default name phone
into his personal group,
which already contains another device named phone,
the two phone bindings result in a label conflict.
Label conflicts also arise
if an ownership dispute splits the target
that a group name refers to,
as described in Section 2.9.
Name resolution fails
if it encounters a label conflict,
preventing the user from following ambiguous links
before resolving the conflict.
A conflict on one label does not affect the usability
of other labels in the same group, however.
optimistic replication [26,28,47]
to maintain a user's personal UIA namespace across multiple devices,
guarding namespace state against device loss or failure
and keeping the namespace available on all devices
during periods of disconnection or network partitions.
Each device stores in an append-only log
all persistent naming state
for its user's personal group
and any other groups of interest to the user,
and uses an epidemic protocol 
to distribute updates of each group's state
among the devices interested in that group.
UIA's epidemic protocol uses a classic two-phase “push/pull” algorithm.
In the “push” phase,
when a device creates a new log record
or obtains a previously unknown one from another device,
it repeatedly pushes the new record to a randomly-chosen peer
until it contacts a peer that already has the record.
This rumor mongering technique works well
when few devices have the record,
propagating the “rumor” aggressively until it is no longer “hot.”
In the “pull” phase,
each device periodically contacts a randomly-chosen peer
to obtain any records it is missing.
These anti-entropy exchanges work best
when most devices already have a record,
complementing the rumor mongering phase
and ensuring that every device reliably obtains all available records.
4 Naming and Group Management
This section describes in detail
how UIA devices manage and synchronize the namespace state
comprising their users' personal and shared groups.
UIA organizes the records comprising a device's log
each series representing the sequence of changes a particular device writes
to a particular group.
The state defining a group consists of one or more series,
one for each device that has written to the group.
All devices participating in a group
gossip and replicate all records in each of the group's series,
preserving the order of records in a given series,
but do not enforce any order between records in
Since UIA separates the naming state for each group by series,
devices can limit gossip to
the records relating to groups they're interested in,
instead of scanning their neighbors' entire device logs.
Log Record Format
|| Type-specific Record Content
|| Owner: endpoint ID (EID) of owner device
|| Nonce: ensures uniqueness of new series ID
|| Label: human-readable string
|| Target: device (EID) or group (series ID)
|| OwnerFlag: grants group ownership if true
|| Target: series ID (SID) to merge with
|| Target: record ID to cancel
As shown in Figure 4,
each log record contains a series ID, a sequence number,
data specific to the record type, and a signature.
The series ID (SID) uniquely identifies the series to which the record belongs.
The sequence number orders records within a series.
The device that owns a series
signs each record in that series with its private key,
so that other devices can authenticate copies of records
they receive indirectly.
A cryptographic hash of the record
yields a Record ID,
which uniquely identifies the record for various purposes described later.
UIA currently defines four record types,
listed in Figure 4
and summarized briefly below:
A create record initiates a new series
owned by the device writing the record,
as identified in the record's owner field.
The owner EID fixes the public/private key pair
other devices use
to authenticate records in the new series.
The record ID of the create record
becomes the new series ID;
a random nonce ensures the new SID's cryptographic uniqueness.
The create record itself is not part of the new series:
its own series ID field is usually empty
to indicate that it is not part of any series,
but it can be non-empty
for revocation purposes
as described later.
A link record binds a human-readable label such as Alice
to an endpoint ID or series ID denoting the link's target.
Links to devices,
such as Bob's names laptop and phone,
contain the EID of the target device.
Links to groups,
such as Alice and PhotoClub,
contain the SID of some series in the target group.
A link record has an owner flag
indicating whether the link grants ownership to the link's target,
allowing the target to write changes to the group containing the link
We refer to a link with its owner flag set
as a link-owner record.
A merge record joins two series to form a single UIA group.
The union of all link and cancel records
in all merged series
determines the set of names that appear in the group,
forming a common distributed namespace.
A merge takes effect only
if the device that wrote the merge record also owns the target group,
or if there is a corresponding merge record in the target group
pointing back to the first group.
A cancel record nullifies the effect of a specific previous record,
specified by the target's record ID.
With certain restrictions described below,
link records can be canceled to delete or rename group members.
Create, merge, and cancel records cannot be canceled.
4.2 Namespace Operations
This section describes how UIA devices implement
the important user-visible namespace control operations,
in terms of the specific records the devices write to their logs
at the events in the example scenario from Figure 2.
The following section will then explain
how devices evaluate the contents of their logs
to determine the effective state of each group at any point in time.
When Bob and Alice install or first start UIA on a device
at Time 1,
the device first writes a create record to its log,
forming a new series to represent the user's personal “root” group
on that device.
The device then writes a link record to the new series,
giving itself a suitable default name
such as laptop.
The device sets the owner flag in this link record
to make itself the sole initial owner of the group.
When Bob introduces and merges his devices at Time 2
to form a personal group,
each device writes to its own root series
a merge record pointing to the other device's root series.
These cross-referencing merge records
result in a merge relationship between the two devices,
which begin to gossip the records comprising both series
so that each device eventually holds a complete copy of each.
This merging process
does not actually create any new link records,
but causes each device to obtain copies
of the other device's existing link records
(the laptop's link record for its default name laptop
and the phone's record for its name phone)
and incorporate those names into its own root group.
Aside from merging devices' root series via introduction,
a user can use a single device to merge two arbitrary groups,
provided the same device already has ownership of both groups.
If Bob creates two shared sub-groups
and later decides they should be combined, for example,
he can merge them on any of his devices.
The device writes cross-referencing merge records
to the relevant series,
exactly as in the introduction scenario.
When Bob and Alice introduce their devices to each other at Time 3,
the devices exchange the series IDs of their respective root series,
and each device writes a link record to its own root series
referring to the other device's root series.
Bob's new link record named Alice gives Alice a name
in his personal group,
and Alice's new link record named Bob likewise
gives Bob a name in her group.
The devices do not set the owner flags in these new link records,
giving Alice and Bob only read-only access to each others' namespaces.
Individual merge relationships in UIA are always pairwise,
between exactly two series,
but merge relationships combine transitively
to determine effective group membership.
When Bob introduces his cell phone to his home phone at Time 4,
the two devices
form a merge relationship between their respective root series.
Since Bob's home phone and laptop already have a merge relationship,
Bob's laptop and cell phone transitively learn about each other
via gossiped records they receive from the home phone,
and the union of the records
in the three root series
determine the contents of the resulting group.
Since the merged group has two link records named phone
with different target EIDs,
the devices flag a label conflict on phone
and refuse to resolve this name.
When Bob renames his cell phone to cell at Time 5
to resolve the conflict,
writes to its root series a cancel record
containing the record ID of the link record
defining the cell phone's previous name,
then writes a new link named cell
that is otherwise identical to the original link.
Since one of the two conflicting link records is now canceled,
the label conflict disappears,
and the names phone and cell become usable on all of Bob's devices
once they receive the new records via gossip.
Bob can resolve the conflict on any of his devices,
because any group owner can cancel
a link written by another device.
The user can also delete a name from a group outright,
in which case the device writes a cancel record
without a new link.
The ownership granted by a link-owner record, however,
can only be nullified
by the revocation process described later in Section 4.3.1.
Because UIA implements renames non-atomically
with a cancel record coupled with a new link record,
if Bob renames Alice
to Alice1 on his laptop
and renames Alice to Alice2 on his phone
while the two devices are temporarily partitioned,
on reconnection he will have two names Alice1 and Alice2
with no conflict detected.
This corner-case behavior, while perhaps slightly surprising,
seems acceptable since it “loses” no information
and at worst requires Bob to delete one of the resulting redundant names.
Bob uses his laptop at Time 6
to create his shared PhotoClub group.
To create the group,
the laptop first writes a create record
to generate a fresh series ID.
The laptop then writes two link records:
first, a link named PhotoClub in its root series
pointing to the new series,
and second, a link named Bob in the new series
pointing back to the root series.
The laptop sets the owner flag in only the latter link record,
giving Bob's personal group
ownership of the new group,
without giving PhotoGroup
ownership of Bob's personal group.
Suppose that Bob now uses a different device,
his cell phone for example,
to add Alice to PhotoClub.
Bob's cell phone is already an indirect owner of PhotoClub,
because the cell phone is an owner of Bob's personal group
and Bob's personal group owns PhotoClub.
The cell phone does not yet have a series in PhotoClub,
to which it can write records:
initially only the laptop, which created the new group,
has a series in the group,
and only it can sign records into that series.
The cell phone therefore creates its own PhotoClub series,
by writing a create record to form a new series owned by itself,
and then writing a merge record to this new series
pointing to the laptop's PhotoClub series.
Although no corresponding merge record
in the laptop's PhotoClub series
points back to the cell phone's new series
(in fact the laptop may be offline
and unable to sign such a record),
the cell phone's merge record takes effect “unilaterally”
by virtue of the cell phone's indirect ownership of PhotoClub.
The cell phone then writes a copy of Bob's link to Alice
into its new PhotoClub series,
and other devices learn of the new series and the new name
as they gossip records for PhotoClub.
When Bob learns at Time 7 that his cell phone is missing,
he uses his laptop to revoke the cell phone's ownership
of his personal group,
either by deleting the name cell from his personal group
or by clearing its owner flag.
To implement this revocation, however,
Bob's laptop cannot merely write a cancel record
pointing to the link record for cell:
the cell phone would still own a series in Bob's personal group
and thus retain “hidden” control over the group.
To revoke the cell phone's ownership, therefore,
Bob's laptop creates a new personal group for Bob
and copies the original group's name content into it.
To create the new group,
the laptop writes a create record
whose series ID field is not empty as usual,
but instead contains the SID of the laptop's original root series.
The laptop then writes link records to the new series
corresponding to all the active links in the old series,
omitting links or ownership flags to be revoked.
The create record written into the old root series
indicates to all interested devices
that the new series forms a group
that is intended to replace
or act as a successor to the original group.
As long as only one such “create successor” record exists
in Bob's old personal group,
all devices treat links to any series in the old group
as if they linked to the successor group instead.
Upon receiving via gossip
the records describing Bob's new group, for example,
Alice's devices subsequently resolve her name Bob
to the new group,
and use it to calculate which devices should be given access to resources
she has authorized Bob to access,
effectively revoking the cell phone's access.
If the cell phone writes a conflicting “create successor” record
to its series in Bob's original group, however,
then the original group becomes disputed,
and other devices refuse to resolve links
to any series in the original group
as soon as they learn about the dispute.
Alice's devices thus refuse to resolve her name Bob
and deny access to any resources she authorized using that name.
Once Alice updates her broken link
to refer to the correct successor group,
either by re-introducing with Bob
or by copying a fresh link from a mutual friend,
her device writes a new link referring to a series in Bob's new group,
the old group becomes irrelevant
and Bob can again access Alice's resources
via the devices in his new personal group.
If link or cancel records exist on Bob's other devices
that his laptop has not yet received at the time of revocation,
the laptop cannot copy these change records into the new group
and they become orphaned.
Bob's devices continue to monitor and gossip records
in the old group after the revocation, however,
to detect both orphans and ownership disputes.
If a device with ownership of the new group detects an orphaned record
written by itself or another device with ownership of the new group
(not a revokee),
it automatically “forwards” the change
by writing a corresponding record to the new group.
This section describes the algorithms UIA devices use
to determine the current state of a given group
from the set of log records they have on hand.
Devices evaluate group state in three stages:
(1) membership and ownership,
(2) group successorship, and
(3) name content.
4.3.1 Membership and Ownership
Membership and ownership evaluation pseudocode
In the first stage,
a UIA device collects the series IDs referred to by all records in its log,
and clusters them into sets based on merge relationships
to form UIA groups.
At the same time, the device computes the set of device EIDs
to be considered owners of each group,
either directly or transitively.
Group membership and ownership must be computed at the same time
because they are mutually dependent:
group membership expansion via merge can introduce additional owners,
and owner set expansion can place additional merge records under consideration.
Figure 5 shows pseudocode
for membership and ownership evaluation.
The algorithm uses a membership table
mapping each known series ID to a set of series IDs sharing a group,
and an ownership table
mapping each group (represented by a set of series IDs)
to a set of owner device EIDs.
The algorithm first initializes the entry in for each series
to a singleton set containing only that series,
and initializes the owner set entry in for each such singleton group
to the EID of the device that owns that series.
The algorithm then repeatedly merges groups and expands ownership sets
until it reaches a fixed point.
The algorithm terminates
because member and owner sets only grow,
and each device knows of a finite number of series IDs
at a given time.
In each iteration,
the algorithm first follows link-owner records,
expanding the ownership set of the group containing a link-owner record
according to the target device EID
or the current ownership set of the target group,
this step handles transitive propagation of ownership across multiple groups,
such as Bob's laptop's ownership of PhotoClub
via the laptop's ownership of Bob's personal group.
Second, for each merge record,
the algorithm expands the ownership set
of the group containing the merge record
to include the ownership set of the target group,
then checks whether the device that wrote the merge record
by virtue of having ownership of the target group.
The authorization check prevents a device
from merging a series into an arbitrary group without permission.
In the symmetric case
where two merge records refer to each others' series IDs,
each merge is authorized by the fact
that the other merge grants ownership of its own series to its target.
Once a merge is authorized,
the algorithm combines the SID sets of the respective groups
to form one group containing all the merged SIDs,
and similarly combines the respective owner sets.
Example Group Successorship Scenarios
In the second stage,
a device computes the successorship status
of each group resulting from the first stage,
in order to handle revocations and ownership disputes.
The device first forms a directed graph
reflecting immediate successor relationships:
a create record in series yielding a new series
makes the group containing a successor to the group containing .
Next, the device takes the transitive closure of this graph
to form a transitive successorship relation:
if succeeds and succeeds ,
then transitively succeeds .
The device now assigns to every group one of three states as follows.
If has no successors, it is a head group:
no revocations have been performed in the group,
and links to series IDs in the group resolve normally.
On the other hand, if there is a second group
that is a transitive successor to
and is also a transitive successor to all other transitive successors to ,
then is the undisputed successor to .
In this case,
links to series IDs in group resolve to group instead.
Finally, if has successors but no undisputed successor,
then group is disputed,
and links to series IDs in do not resolve at all.
Figure 6 illustrates several group successorship scenarios
and the corresponding results of this algorithm.
In scenario (1),
two conflicting revocations have placed group A under dispute;
A's successor B also has a successor due a second revocation in B
but B is not under dispute.
Scenario (2) is like (1)
except a revocation has also been performed in group C,
forming a new head group E.
Scenario (3) shows the result after the warring owners in (2)
settle their differences and merge their head groups D and E,
resolving the original dispute over group A.
In the third and final stage,
for each head group to be used for name resolution,
a device computes the group's namespace state as follows.
Given the set of all link records in every series in the group,
the device removes all link records targeted by a cancel record
in any series of the group
to form the set of active links.
Any device that owns a group
can cancel a link written by another device,
but a cancel cannot revoke ownership.
The set of active labels in a group,
shown in a namespace browser for example,
is the set of labels appearing in any active link record in the group.
To be usable,
all active links for a given label
must have the same permissions,
and must target the same device EID
or SIDs in the same group.
Otherwise the label is in conflict,
as Bob's home and cell phone are at Time 4 in the example.
If Bob creates identical links on different devices independently,
such as by separately introducing both his cell phone and his laptop to Alice
to yield duplicate Alice links,
this action does not create a label conflict
when Bob merges his home and cell phone together
because the redundant links have the same target and permissions.
5 Routing and Forwarding
Once the naming layer has resolved a device name to a
location-independent EID, UIA's routing layer is responsible for locating the target device--finding its current IP address--and forwarding traffic to it through other devices if direct connectivity
Many designs are conceivable that would perform these two functions,
such as a general-purpose overlay routing algorithm we explored
previously . In this work, however, we adopt a
simple design that does not attempt to provide connectivity
between arbitrary devices,
but is optimized for connecting to devices
in the user's immediate social neighborhood:
primarily the user's own devices and those
of friends named in the user's personal group,
and occasionally “friends of friends,”
but rarely more indirect contacts.
In practice we expect users to create (or copy from other users)
names in their own personal groups
for others with whom they wish to interact regularly,
justifying our assumed usage model.
In brief, UIA builds an overlay network
between devices in its social neighborhood.
To locate a remote device by its EID,
a device floods a location request
through the overlay to discover the EIDs, IP addresses, and ports of
devices forming a path through the overlay to the target.
The originating device then connects directly
to the target's discovered IP
address and port, or if the target is not directly reachable
(e.g., because of an intervening NAT),
forwards traffic to it by source-routing data via the
existing connections in the discovered path.
5.1 Overlay Construction and Maintenance
Each UIA device maintains an open TCP connection with up to a configurable
number of overlay peers. Ideally, these peers should be on the
public Internet, so that a device behind a NAT can receive messages from
devices outside via its active peering connections. A device
should choose other devices when none on the public Internet are
reachable, however, so that the overlay remains useful in ad hoc
environments. Furthermore, the devices of friends should be close to
each other in the overlay, so that location or forwarding paths
between them are short.
To meet these goals, a device first prefers as peers devices that are
stable, and secondarily prefers those that are closest to it in
friendship distance. A device is considered stable if it
does not have a private IP address  and has met a
threshold level of availability in the recent past. A peer's
is roughly the number of labels
in the local device's shortest name for that peer.
The rest of this section explains how a device discovers stable
peers and calculates friendship distances.
Each device maintains a potential peer set that contains
potential peers' EIDs and the times, IP addresses, and ports at which
the device has connected to those peers in the past. Initially, a
device populates this set with the devices to which the
user has directly introduced the device. To discover new potential
peers, a device periodically exchanges its potential peer set with
those of other devices within a configurable maximum friendship
distance. A device adds to the set only those devices to which it is
able to establish a TCP connection when it discovers them.
A device classifies a potential peer as stable if it
meets an availability threshold (e.g., 90%) at the same public IP
address and port in the recent past (e.g., the last week). To monitor
availability, a device periodically chooses a random potential peer
and attempts a connection to its last known location.
A device need not have a static IP address to be classified as
stable: a device with a dynamic non-private IP address
that changes infrequently,
such as a home PC left on and connected via a DSL or cable modem,
will also typically be classified as stable.
A device computes the friendship distance of each of its
potential peers by assigning a distance of 1 to its direct peers:
those the naming layer identifies as devices in the user's personal
group and in groups to which the user has linked (the user's
immediate friends). The device then assigns distances to indirect peers
transitively, giving the direct peer of a direct peer a
distance of 2, for example.
To improve robustness, a device manufacturer can seed the
potential peer sets of its products with
a set of default peers,
which devices treat as having an infinite friendship distance.
Two newly-purchased mobile devices,
after being introduced and exchanging potential peer sets,
thus have at least one stable peer in common at the outset
to help them re-connect after a move.
Once the mobile devices discover other stable peers
at smaller friendship distances, however, they prefer the new
devices over the default peers, mitigating the manufacturer's cost in
providing this robustness-enhancing service.
5.2 Token-limited Flooding
To communicate with a remote device, a device first attempts a direct
TCP connection to the IP address and port at which it last connected to
the target, if any. If this connection fails or the originator
has no address information for the target device, it floods a
location request through the overlay to locate the target by its EID.
UIA uses a token count,
in place of the traditional hop count ,
to limit the scope of location request floods.
The token count bounds the total number of
devices to which a request may be forwarded,
rather than the number of times each request may be re-broadcast.
This distinction is
important for two reasons. First, although devices seek to connect with
a fixed number of peers, the number of devices that choose a given
device depends on the target's stability and popularity,
so the overlay's degree is highly
non-uniform. Hop count is thus a poor predictor of the number of
devices a request will reach. Second, the overlay network is highly
redundant: two friends' devices are likely to share
many common peers, for example,
so searching all devices within some
distance of a request's source is often unnecessary.
Location requests contain the EIDs, IP addresses, and ports of devices
they have traversed; devices forward responses back through the overlay
along the same path.
A device with an open TCP connection to a request's target
immediately responds with the target's IP address and port. Otherwise,
it subtracts one token for itself, divides the other tokens among its peers
not already in the path, distributing any remainder randomly, and
forwards the request to those peers that receive a non-zero count.
The device retains the request's target EID and return path
for a short period,
waiting for the forwarded requests to complete,
and replying to the original request when any of the
forwarded ones succeed or when all of them have failed. A
request also fails if the source has not received a successful response
within a timeout.
If a device receives a duplicate request
for the same EID as an outstanding request
(e.g., along a different path),
it forwards the new request anyway according to its token count,
giving peers for which
there were not enough tokens in previous instances another chance to
receive the request.
As shown in Section 7, most location requests succeed
within the near vicinity of the source in the overlay network. To limit
the cost of the search, a device thus initially sends each request with a
limited number of tokens and retries after each failure with a
multiplicatively increased number, up to some maximum.
To communicate with the target device after receiving a successful
location response, the originator tries to open a direct connection to
each device in the response path, starting with the target itself
and proceeding backwards along the path until a connection succeeds.
then source-routes messages to the target along the tail of the path
starting with the device to which it connected.
Consider for example two devices a and b
behind different NATs,
both of which peer with a common stable device s.
When a performs a location
request for b's EID, it discovers the path
a → s → b.
Device a then tries to open a direct connection to b, but b's NAT
blocks that connection, so a forwards traffic to b through s
instead. Device s itself initiates no location requests,
but merely forwards traffic along the path specified by a.
Structure of UIA Prototype Implementation
A prototype UIA implementation
currently runs on Linux and Mac OS X.
As illustrated in Figure 7,
the prototype consists of
two user-level daemons implementing UIA's naming and routing layers,
and a graphical application for browsing and controlling devices and groups.
The control application and other UIA-aware applications on the device
interface directly to the naming and routing daemons via Sun RPC.
Through these interfaces,
UIA-aware applications can resolve UIA names to EIDs,
explore and modify groups on behalf of the user,
send packets to EIDs,
receive packets on the device's EID,
and discover peers on the local-area network.
The name daemon is written in Python and implements the design described in Section 4,
providing group creation, merging, named links between groups,
naming state gossip, state evaluation,
multi-component name resolution,
and ownership revocation.
The name daemon does not yet detect
and copy orphaned change records across revocations
as described in Section 4.2, however.
The prototype routing daemon implements in C++
the algorithms described in Section 5.
The router uses Bonjour for local-area device discovery,
and uses SSL over TCP connections for secure communication.
The UIA control application
allows the user to browse the UIA namespace and create and modify groups,
as illustrated earlier in Figure 3,
and supervises the device introduction process
as illustrated in Figure 1.
The control application is still unpolished
and does not yet fully support
shared groups or revocation, however.
We have ported the UIA prototype to the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet,
a Linux-based Internet appliance with an ARM processor.
The naming and routing layers
have the full functionality of the regular Linux/Mac version of UIA,
but the port of the GUI control application is not yet complete.
we expect the routing and naming modules
to port easily among smaller devices,
while the GUI component requires more modifications
because of the more specialized and restrictive user interface frameworks
available on each class of mobile device.
UIA does not rely on extensive data entry
or other forms of user interaction
that are fundamentally difficult to achieve on small devices, however.
The UIA prototype supports legacy applications
through a tun wrapper and DNS proxy.
The tun wrapper disguises EIDs as device-local IP addresses
and uses the kernel's tun device
to forward applications' TCP and UDP packets for these special IP addresses
over UIA's routing layer.
The DNS proxy similarly intercepts name lookups made by local applications
and resolves UIA names to device-local IP addresses for the
We have run Apache, Firefox, OpenSSH,
and Apple's Personal File Sharing
over UIA using this legacy interface
without modification or recompilation.
UIA's legacy application support layer
makes the user's personal group
appear to applications like a global virtual private network,
by intercepting network-local broadcast packets
that applications send to UIA's special IP addresses
and forwarding them securely to each of the user's personal devices.
Because of this feature,
many broadcast-based “local-area” service discovery protocols
such as Bonjour
automatically work across all the devices in the user's personal group,
even when some of the devices are in fact remote.
We have used Apple's Bonjour-based Personal File Sharing, for example,
to locate and share files remotely
between devices in a UIA personal group
as if they were present on the same LAN.
We currently run the UIA prototype on a number of desktop and
laptop machines in our lab,
and regularly run existing applications such as SSH over UIA
to reach our mobile devices via their short personal device names.
UIA automatically accounts for IP address changes
and traverses NATs as necessary;
SSH connections open when we take a laptop home
need not be restarted.
Although these uses are already possible
via alternate protocols
such as mobile IP,
the complexity of configuring these alternatives
has generally deterred even those of us
with the necessary technical knowledge from deploying them.
We feel that
UIA's zero-configuration paradigm for personal naming and connectivity
provides a crucial missing element in making mobile devices usable.
UIA's primary goal is convenience and usability by non-technical users,
a goal that can only be evaluated effectively
once UIA has been deployed longer and more widely
in the field.
We can however evaluate key performance characteristics
of the routing layer
to verify that the proposed design
is capable of providing
the desired connectivity on realistic networks.
We use as our simulated network
a crawl of the social networking site Orkut gathered by Li and
This graph is merely suggestive; until UIA is more widely deployed, it
will not be clear how accurately the Orkut graph characterizes UIA's likely
usage model. The graph has 2,363 users,
which we take to represent devices, as if each user owned one device.
Friend relationships are bidirectional,
and the number of friends per user is highly skewed: the
median is only 7, but the most popular user has over 1,000.
Our simulator takes as input a percent stable parameter
and randomly chooses that percent of the devices
to be stable and publicly accessible.
All other devices the simulator considers to be mobile and inaccessible
except through some stable device, as if behind a NAT.
We assume that all devices agree as to which devices are stable.
Each device chooses 16 peers and allows at most 64 devices to choose it,
to limit each device's overlay maintenance cost in a real network.
Devices choose peers in order of friendship distance.
A device can only choose a given target as a peer
if the target does not already have 64 peers,
or if the new device is closer than one of the target's existing peers,
in which case the target discards
a random peer at higher friendship distance.
Since we do not yet have traces
with which to simulate the network's evolution,
the simulated devices choose peers in random order,
iterating until the network reaches a fixed point.
The simulator then performs
token-limited location requests on the resulting overlay
between 10,000 random pairs at
friendship distances 1, 2, and 3. Each lookup starts with 16
tokens, and doubles after each failure,
up to a maximum of 256 tokens.
The simulator records the percentage of requests that succeed
after a given number of rounds
and the total number of messages sent.
Location request success rate
An important performance metric for the location algorithm is the number
of tokens needed to locate a target device successfully. Using more
tokens increases the chance of success (assuming that the overlay is
in fact connected), but also increases the cost of concluding that an
unreachable device is offline.
Figure 8 shows
the success rate measured in the simulation
for locating devices
at friendship distance 1.
Using 256 tokens, the location algorithm achieves greater than a 99.5%
success rate for 10% or more stable devices. Using 64 tokens
the algorithm achieves 97.5% success for 10% or more stable devices.
The vast majority of requests--80% of requests at 10% or more stable devices--succeed within the first inexpensive round of 16 tokens.
At the far left of the graph
where few stable devices are available,
the success rate drops off
because each stable device can only support 64 peers,
and there are not enough stable devices for each mobile device to
choose a full 16 peers, or in some cases any.
As the percentage of stable devices increases,
a linearly increasing number of location requests
are to stable devices that can be contacted directly
without flooding, thus requiring no tokens.
We also measured the success rates
for locating devices at friendship distances of 2 and 3,
though we omit these graphs for space reasons.
The results for distance 2
are almost as good as for distance 1,
presumably because two devices at friendship distance 2 are likely to
peer with some common stable device at distance 1 from each of them.
Success rate drops considerably at distance 3, however,
achieving only 50% success with 256 tokens
in networks of 40% or more stable devices, for example.
Mean messages sent per location request
The lower line in
Figure 9 shows the total number
of messages sent during successful token-limited lookup requests
for devices at friendship distance 1.
A request's message count is ultimately bounded by its token count,
but is often much less
because successful lookups usually do not require all available tokens.
At the left edge of the graph,
there are not enough stable devices for every mobile device
to have a peer, so few requests succeed.
Those that do succeed do so cheaply, however,
because all of the connected mobile devices have clustered
around the same few stable devices.
The message count peaks near the point where
the number of stable devices becomes barely sufficient
to serve all of the mobile devices,
so the requests usually succeed
but only after contacting many devices.
As the number of stable devices increases further,
more requests complete without flooding at all, since
stable targets are reachable directly at their
last known IP addresses.
To contrast UIA's token-limited scheme
with flooding limited by hop count ,
the upper line in the figure shows the total number of messages sent
for successful hop count-controlled location requests
in which the originating device knows via an oracle
the exact hop count required for the search to succeed in one round.
As the graph shows,
the token-based scheme requires far fewer messages
than even this “ideal” hop count-limited scheme.
The inefficiency of the hop count scheme results from
the skewed popularity distribution and redundancy of the friendship graph,
as discussed in Section 5.2.
8 Future Work
Although we feel that the current UIA prototype
demonstrates a promising approach to naming and connecting personal devices,
many avenues for future work remain,
some of which are highlighted in this section.
UIA currently provides no read access control for its namespaces,
only write access control via group ownership.
Users may wish to hide certain names,
such as links to business partners,
from view of the general public,
or limit visibility of devices at work to business colleagues
while allowing family members to see devices at home.
The naming layer currently assumes that groups
are small and change infrequently,
so that it is reasonable for devices
always to gossip entire groups
and store change records forever
(or until the device is replaced or the user's account wiped).
A traditional DNS-like remote name resolution protocol
might usefully supplement UIA's gossip protocol,
allowing devices to resolve names in large or rarely accessed groups
held on other devices without replicating the entire group.
A UIA device might also keep a separate log for each group or series,
and garbage collect logs of groups the device does not own
and has not accessed recently.
A state checkpoint mechanism might similarly enable devices
to garbage collect old change records for groups they own.
UIA currently assumes that groups are owned by one person
or a few people managing the group by consensus:
any group owner can modify the group without restriction.
Users may wish to configure groups
so that changes
require approval from multiple distinct owners,
or to make some owners more “trusted” than others.
Treating a PC locked up in a data center
as more trustworthy than a laptop or cell phone
could eliminate the risk of ownership disputes
if the mobile device is stolen, for example.
The user would have to think ahead
and perform more manual configuration, however,
and the consequences might be worse if
the trusted PC is compromised.
As an alternative to the digital signature algorithm
with which UIA normally signs namespace change records,
we are experimenting with a security framework
based on proof-carrying authentication .
In this framework,
instead of a signature,
a change record contains a structured proof
that the record's meaning (e.g., “resolve name x to EID y”)
has been endorsed by the group owner.
Proof-carrying authentication enables new types of proofs to be created
and deployed without changing the verifier's code.
We have used this mechanism for example to
create a UIA group whose records are certified
by MIT's central X.509 certification authority (CA),
so that alice.mit securely maps to the person
the MIT CA has endorsed as firstname.lastname@example.org
even though UIA
contains no explicit code to check X.509 certificates.
The UIA routing layer currently uses forwarding for NAT traversal,
which is a general but inefficient solution.
As an optimization,
we plan to incorporate hole punching ,
a technique that can build direct peer-to-peer connections
across many types of NAT without forwarding.
Since this and other NAT traversal
only work with certain NATs, however,
UIA will still need forwarding as a fallback
to provide robust connectivity.
The routing layer currently uses TCP for all UIA connectivity,
including for tunneling the UDP datagrams of legacy applications,
limiting the prototype's effectiveness for handling real-time data
such as streaming media.
We intend to introduce a UDP-based UIA connectivity protocol
to provide more effective best-effort delivery.
The routing layer's search algorithm
could use additional hints from the naming layer
to improve its performance.
laptop.Charlie.Bob.Alice, for example,
it might first locate some device belonging to
Bob and ask that device to locate laptop.Charlie.
UIA's legacy application interface
currently cannot provide each user of a multi-user machine
with a fully separate TCP/UDP port space for its own EID,
because the kernel's protocol stack offers no way to ensure that
only a particular user's applications can bind a socket
to the device-local IP address representing that user's EID.
Thus, without enhancing the kernel's transport protocols,
only UIA-aware applications can make full use of personal EIDs.
Fixing this issue requires changes to kernel-level code
and is thus less portable.
9 Related Work
UIA builds on a large body of related
work in the areas of naming systems, location-independent
identifiers, gossip and optimistic replication protocols,
and social networks.
UIA's personal naming model is inspired in part by
Like SDSI, UIA allows users to define locally-scoped personal names
bound to cryptographic targets and groups
to form decentralized, composable namespaces.
While SDSI associates public keys with users (principals)
and expects users to know about and manage their own public keys, however,
UIA simplifies key management
by making each device responsible
for creating and managing its own device-specific key
invisibly to the user.
UIA devices form user identities
out of cooperating groups of personal devices,
which the user builds through simple device introduction and merge.
Existing Internet protocols can provide some of UIA's connectivity features,
but they require configuration effort and technical expertise
that deters even sophisticated users.
Dynamic DNS  can name devices with dynamic IP addresses,
but requires configuration on both the name server and the named device,
and devices still become inaccessible when
DNS Security 
cryptographically authenticates DNS names,
but its administration cost has hindered deployment
even by the Internet's root naming authorities,
let alone by ordinary users.
Mobile IP  gives a mobile
device the illusion of a fixed IP address,
but requires setting up a dedicated
forwarding server at a static, public IP address.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) 
provide secure remote access to corporate networks,
but their infrastructure and administration requirements
make them unsuitable for deployment by average consumers
for their personal networks.
Uniform Communication Identifiers 
provide a common identifier
for phone, E-mail, and other forms of communication,
along with a central address book shareable among
HINTS  uses name-history trails
to map obsolete user names to current ones.
These systems still rely on globally unique names
with centralized registration and management, however.
Bonjour  allows devices
to choose their own names on local-area networks, but
these names are insecure and ephemeral: any device can
claim any name, and its name becomes invalid
as soon as it moves to a different network. UIA uses Bonjour
libraries to discover new devices on the local network,
but UIA names persist and remain bound
to the original target device
despite later migration.
UIA builds on host identity ideas
JXTA , and
introducing cryptographic EIDs that securely identify not just a host
but a particular user on that host.
Different users of a shared UIA host
can run independent personal network services
without conflicting or requiring host-wide configuration,
and network services can leverage UIA names and EIDs
to authenticate clients at user granularity.
Distributed hash tables
provide scalable lookup of arbitrary flat identifiers
in large distributed address spaces,
but tolerate only limited asymmetry or non-transitivity
in the underlying
UIA's router in contrast handles asymmetries
such as those caused by NATs,
but does not attempt to resolve arbitrary identifiers reliably:
UIA instead focuses on reliable routing to devices nearby
in the user's social network,
for which scoped flooding 
is more suitable.
DHT-based naming systems
such as DDNS ,
i3 , and
provide new mechanisms for resolving global names.
provides content delivery and NAT traversal
by routing on global DNS names.
In place of global names, UIA focuses
on global connectivity via personal names,
which users can choose without the restriction of global uniqueness.
UIA's optimistic replication of naming state
keeps the user's namespace available on his devices
even while disconnected from the Internet and its global name services.
and Ivy 
develop optimistic replication algorithms for file systems,
and Bayou 
does so for databases.
Rumor  and P-Grid 
explore optimistic data replication on mobile devices,
Roma  uses one mobile device
to offer central management of data on other devices,
and Footloose 
uses mobile devices the user carries
to propagate updates among other devices.
UIA builds on all of this work
to address distributed naming and ad hoc group management,
confronting the additional challenge of maintaining consistency
when not only the data content but the set of participants
may change independently on different devices.
UIA is a continuation of work begun with Unmanaged Internet
UIA extends the earlier work with its personal naming system,
and by leveraging the user's social network for routing purposes
as in sybil-resistant DHTs 
and social data sharing systems
such as Turtle , SPROUT ,
F2F , and Tribler .
This paper proposes the Unmanaged Internet Architecture
for introducing, naming, and globally connecting mobile devices.
UIA gives users persistent personal names for
conveniently finding and expressing who they want to
talk to, what devices they wish to access,
and who can access their own devices.
Each device starts with a generic name for itself, such as laptop,
and a cryptographic end-system identifier
to provide authentic and private communication.
A user can merge devices to form personal groups,
which cooperate to maintain a distributed namespace by
gossiping logs of the user's changes.
A user's group can name
both the user's devices and other users' groups;
users can form links securely either by physical device
introduction or via other trusted channels.
Since UIA names are local and personal,
users need not register with central authorities
to obtain scarce globally unique names.
UIA uses ad hoc routing through social neighbors' devices to cope with a
spectrum of connectivity environments.
Scoped flooding ensures robustness when
groups of devices form isolated islands of connectivity, and a social overlay
enables devices to find a target's current IP address efficiently
when they have Internet connectivity.
This research is sponsored by the T-Party Project, a joint research
program between MIT and Quanta Computer Inc., Taiwan, and by the
National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement ANI-0225660
We would like to thank Martin Abadi, Tom Rodeheffer,
Nokia Research Center Cambridge, and the USENIX reviewers
for support and feedback on early paper drafts.
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This paper appeared in the
7th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation,
November 6-8, 2006.