Security Rationale for a Cooperative Backup Service for Mobile Devices

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Abstract

Mobile devices (e.g., laptops, PDAs, cell phones) are increasingly relied on but are used in contexts that put them at risk of physical damage, loss or theft. This paper discusses security considerations that arise in the design of a cooperative backup service for mobile devices. Participating devices leverage encounters with other devices to temporarily replicate critical data. Anyone is free to participate in the cooperative service, without requiring any prior trust relationship with other participants. In this paper, we identify security threats relevant in this context as well as possible solutions and discuss how they map to low-level security requirements related to identity and trust establishment. We propose self-organized, policy-neutral mechanisms that allow the secure designation and identification of participating devices. We show that they can serve as a building block for a wide range of cooperation policies that address most of the security threats we are concerned with. We conclude on future directions.