[Resource Topic] 2023/1022: Zombie: Middleboxes that Don’t Snoop

Welcome to the resource topic for 2023/1022

Zombie: Middleboxes that Don’t Snoop

Authors: Collin Zhang, Zachary DeStefano, Arasu Arun, Joseph Bonneau, Paul Grubbs, Michael Walfish


Zero-knowledge middleboxes (ZKMBs) are a recent paradigm in which clients get privacy while middleboxes enforce policy: clients prove in zero knowledge that the plaintext underlying their encrypted traffic complies with network policies, such as DNS filtering. However, prior work had impractically poor performance and was limited in functionality.

This work presents Zombie, the first system built using the ZKMB paradigm. Zombie introduces techniques that push ZKMBs to the verge of practicality: preprocessing (to move the bulk of proof generation to idle times between requests), asynchrony (to remove proving and verifying costs from the critical path), and batching (to amortize some of the verification work). Zombie’s choices, together with these techniques, provide a factor of 3.5$\times$ speedup in total computation done by client and middlebox, lowering the critical path overhead for a DNS filtering application to less than 300ms (on commodity hardware) or (in the asynchronous configuration) to 0.

As an additional contribution that is likely of independent interest, Zombie introduces a portfolio of techniques to efficiently encode regular expressions in probabilistic (and zero knowledge) proofs; these techniques offer significant asymptotic and constant factor improvements in performance over a standard baseline. Zombie builds on this portfolio to support policies based on regular expressions, such as data loss prevention.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2023/1022

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