Managing NymBoxes for Identity and Tracking Protection

David Isaac Wolinsky, Daniel Jackowitz, Bryan Ford
Yale University

USENIX Conference on Timely Results in Operating Systems


Despite the attempts of well-designed anonymous communication tools to protect users from tracking or identification, flaws in surrounding software (such as web browsers) and mistakes in configuration may leak the user’s identity. We introduce Nymix, an anonymitycentric operating system architecture designed “top-to-bottom” to strengthen identity- and tracking-protection. Nymix’s core contribution is OS support for nym-browsing: independent, parallel, and ephemeral web sessions. Each web session, or pseudonym, runs in a unique virtual machine (VM) instance evolving from a common base state with support for long-lived sessions which can be anonymously stored to the cloud, avoiding de-anonymization despite potential confiscation or theft. Nymix allows a user to safely browse the Web using various different transports simultaneously through a pluggable communication model that supports Tor, Dissent, and a private browsing mode. In evaluations, Nymix consumes 600 MB per nymbox and loads within 15 to 25 seconds.

Paper: PDF

This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) and SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, Contract No. N66001-11-C-4018.