Distributed Computing and Networking

Volume 5935 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 195-206

Poisoning the Kad Network

  • Thomas LocherAffiliated withComputer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK), ETH Zurich
  • , David MysickaAffiliated withComputer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK), ETH Zurich
  • , Stefan SchmidAffiliated withDeutsche Telekom Laboratories, TU Berlin
  • , Roger WattenhoferAffiliated withComputer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK), ETH Zurich

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Since the demise of the Overnet network, the Kad network has become not only the most popular but also the only widely used peer-to-peer system based on a distributed hash table. It is likely that its user base will continue to grow in numbers over the next few years as, unlike the eDonkey network, it does not depend on central servers, which increases scalability and reliability. Moreover, the Kad network is more efficient than unstructured systems such as Gnutella. However, we show that today’s Kad network can be attacked in several ways by carrying out several (well-known) attacks on the Kad network. The presented attacks could be used either to hamper the correct functioning of the network itself, to censor contents, or to harm other entities in the Internet not participating in the Kad network such as ordinary web servers. While there are simple heuristics to reduce the impact of some of the attacks, we believe that the presented attacks cannot be thwarted easily in any fully decentralized peer-to-peer system without some kind of a centralized certification and verification authority.