Information for

Ian Goldberg


Research interestsIan Goldberg

Professor Goldberg's research spans a number of areas in privacy, security, and cryptography, focusing on aspects of security and privacy technologies that are useful to people under realistic circumstances.

In today's highly connected world, in which data is so easy to collect, search, and transfer, privacy is of increasing importance. Privacy, broadly speaking, is the notion of informational self-determination; that is, the ability of a person to control information about herself: who gets access to it, for what purposes they can use it, how long they can store it, and so on.

Unfortunately, much communication today, particularly over the Internet, is quite privacy-unfriendly. When you send email, use instant messaging, or simply browse the world-wide web, information about you and your actions gets disseminated to diverse parties around the world--and you have little, if any, control over it. Companies called data brokers aggregate all available data about as many people as possible, and sell those dossiers to interested parties. Unfortunately, as the data broker Choicepoint learned when it sold dossiers on 150,000 Americans in 2005, sometimes those interested parties are criminals or identity thieves.

Privacy enhancing technologies (or PETs) aim to mitigate this problem by giving individuals control over the spread of information about their online actions. Professor Goldberg's research produces PETs and other technologies to improve the security and privacy of Internet users. One of his successful projects is Off-the-Record Messaging, which protects the privacy of hundreds of thousands of users' instant messaging conversations.

Degrees and awards

BMath (Waterloo), MSc, PhD (California, Berkeley)

University Research Chair; Outstanding Young Computer Science Researcher Award (2011); Early Researcher Award (2010-2015)

Industrial and sabbatical experience

From 1999 to 2006, Professor Goldberg was Chief Scientist of Zero-Knowledge Systems (later known as Radialpoint), makers of security and privacy software for consumers and enterprises. There, he was responsible for research, design, and prototype implementation of privacy-enhancing technologies in a commercial setting.

Zero-Knowledge Systems' first product was the Freedom Network, based on Professor Goldberg's PhD thesis. The Freedom Network allowed subscribers using the Internet to maintain control over how much of their personal information was revealed to web sites, third parties, and others.

Professor Goldberg is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of The Tor Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) scientific and educational charity conducting scientific research promoting free speech, free expression, civic engagement and privacy rights online.

Representative publications

Tao Wang, Xiang Cai, Rishab Nithyanand, Robert Johnson, Ian Goldberg. "Effective Attacks and Provable Defenses for Website Fingerprinting". 23rd USENIX Security Symposium. 15 pages. August 2014.

Casey Devet, Ian Goldberg. "The Best of Both Worlds: Combining Information-Theoretic and Computational PIR for Communication Efficiency". 14th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS 2014). 20 pages. July 2014.

Mashael AlSabah, Ian Goldberg. "PCTCP: Per-Circuit TCP-over-IPSec Transport for Anonymous Communication Overlay Networks". 20th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security. 12 pages. November 2013.

Mashael AlSabah, Kevin Bauer, Tariq Elahi, Ian Goldberg. "The Path Less Travelled: Overcoming Tor's Bottlenecks with Traffic Splitting". 13th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS 2013). pp. 143–163. July 2013.

Ryan Henry, Yizhou Huang, Ian Goldberg. "One (Block) Size Fits All: PIR and SPIR Over Arbitrary-Length Records via Multi-block PIR Queries". 20th Network and Distributed System Security Symposium. 15 pages. February 2013.

University of Waterloo
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