A Prospective Analysis of Security Vulnerabilities within Link Traversal-Based Query Processing

Tracking #: 2814-4028

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Ruben Taelman
Ruben Verborgh

Responsible editor: 
Sabrina Kirrane

Submission type: 
Full Paper
The societal and economical consequences surrounding Big Data-driven platforms have increased the call for decentralized solutions. However, retrieving and querying data in more decentralized environments requires fundamentally different approaches, whose properties are not yet well understood. Link-Traversal-based Query Processing (LTQP) is a technique for querying over decentralized data networks, in which a client-side query engine discovers data by traversing links between documents. Since decentralized environments are potentially unsafe due to their non-centrally controlled nature, there is a need for client-side LTQP query engines to be resistant against security threats aimed at the query engine’s host machine or the query initiator’s personal data. As such, we have performed an analysis of potential security vulnerabilities of LTQP. This article provides an overview of security threats in related domains, which are used as inspiration for the identification of 10 LTQP security threats. Each threat is explained, together with an example, and one or more avenues for mitigations are proposed. We conclude with several concrete recommendations for LTQP query engine developers and data publishers as a first step to mitigate some of these issues. With this work, we start filling the unknowns for enabling querying over decentralized environments. Aside from future work on security, wider research is needed to uncover missing building blocks for enabling true decentralization.
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