Anonymous, Fault-Tolerant Distributed Queries for Smart Devices

TitleAnonymous, Fault-Tolerant Distributed Queries for Smart Devices
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsTremel E, Birman K, Kleinberg R, Jelasity M
JournalACM Trans. Cyber-Phys. Syst.
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Place PublishedNew York, NY, USA
KeywordsAnonymous aggregation, data mining, overlay networks, smart meters

Applications that aggregate and query data from distributed embedded devices are of interest in many settings, such as smart buildings and cities, the smart power grid, and mobile health applications. However, such devices also pose serious privacy concerns due to the personal nature of the data being collected. In this article, we present an algorithm for aggregating data in a distributed manner that keeps the data on the devices themselves, releasing only sums and other aggregates to centralized operators. We offer two privacy-preserving configurations of our solution, one limited to crash failures and supporting a basic kind of aggregation; the second supporting a wider range of queries and also tolerating Byzantine behavior by compromised nodes. The former is quite fast and scalable, the latter more robust against attack and capable of offering full differential privacy for an important class of queries, but it costs more and injects noise that makes the query results slightly inaccurate. Other configurations are also possible. At the core of our approach is a new kind of overlay network (a superimposed routing structure operated by the endpoint devices). This overlay is optimally robust and convergent, and our protocols use it both for aggregation and as a general-purpose infrastructure for peer-to-peer communications.