Joseph Cooley, Roger Khazan, Benjamin Fuller, and Galen Pickard. GROK: A Practical System for Securing Group Communications. IEEE Network Computing and Applications 2010. Best paper nominee.
We have designed and implemented a general-purpose cryptographic building block, called GROK, for securing communication among groups of entities in networks composed of high-latency, low-bandwidth, intermittently connected links. During the process, we solved a number of non-trivial system problems. This paper describes these problems and our solutions, and motivates and justifies these solutions from three viewpoints: usability, efficiency, and security. The solutions described in this paper have been tempered by securing a widely-used group-oriented application, group text chat. We implemented a prototype extension to a popular text chat client called Pidgin and evaluated it in a real-world scenario. Based on our experiences, these solutions are useful to designers of group-oriented systems specifically, and secure systems in general.