The GNU Name System

Christian Grothoff, Inria Rennes
Host: Scott Smith

In this talk, I will present the design of the GNU Name System (GNS), a fully decentralized and censorship-resistant name system. GNS uses cryptography to provide a privacy-enhancing alternative to DNS and existing public key infrastructures (such as X.509 certificate authorities), while giving users the desirable property of memorable names. The design of GNS incorporates the possibility of integration and coexistence with DNS.

GNS builds on ideas from the Simple Distributed Security Infrastructure (SDSI), addressing a central issue with the decentralized mapping of secure identifiers to memorable names: namely the impossibility of providing a global, secure and memorable mapping without a trusted authority. GNS uses the transitivity in the SDSI design to replace the trusted root with secure delegation of authority, thus making petnames useful to other users, while operating under the strong adversary model represented by state actors.

Speaker Biography

Christian Grothoff is leading a research team at Inria, a French national institute for applied computer science and mathematics research. He maintains GNUnet, an experimental network designed with the goal to provide privacy and security without the need for trusted third parties. He earned his PhD in computer science from UCLA, an M.S. in computer science from Purdue University, and a Diplom in mathematics from the University of Wuppertal. He is also a freelance journalist reporting on technology and national security.