I know where you are and what you are sharing: Exploiting P2P communications to invade users' privacy

Stevens Le Blond, Chao Zhang, Arnaud Legout, Keith Ross, Walid Dabbous

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    In this paper, we show how to exploit real-time communication applications to determine the IP address of a targeted user. We focus our study on Skype, although other real-time communication applications may have similar privacy issues. We first design a scheme that calls an identified-targeted user inconspicuously to find his IP address, which can be done even if he is behind a NAT. By calling the user periodically, we can then observe the mobility of the user. We show how to scale the scheme to observe the mobility patterns of tens of thousands of users. We also consider the linkability threat, in which the identified user is linked to his Internet usage. We illustrate this threat by combining Skype and BitTorrent to show that it is possible to determine the filesharing usage of identified users. We devise a scheme based on the identification field of the IP datagrams to verify with high accuracy whether the identified user is participating in specific torrents. We conclude that any Internet user can leverage Skype, and potentially other real-time communication systems, to observe the mobility and filesharing usage of tens of millions of identified users.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationIMC'11 - Proceedings of the 2011 ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference
    Number of pages15
    StatePublished - 2011
    Event2011 ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC'11 - Berlin, Germany
    Duration: Nov 2 2011Nov 4 2011

    Publication series

    NameProceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC


    Other2011 ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC'11


    • file sharing
    • mobility
    • privacy
    • skype

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Computer Networks and Communications


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