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Secure digital archive and web search using a Probably Approximately Correct architecture

7 March 2012

Sami Richardson

There is a growing interest in digital archives. A number of digital archive projects exist that use peer- to-peer (P2P) networks to provide long-term, persistent storage of digital content. Several are designed to withstand censorship attempts. They allow retrieval of known items, but the problem of indexing content and providing a secure search service, free of any controlling authority, remains unsolved. One solution might be to use the same P2P network to also host the search service.

This PhD will investigate and implement a distributed peer-to-peer (P2P) system that can be used to provide a search service for digital archives and the web. The system will be based on a Probably Approximately Correct (PAC) architecture. PAC search involves dividing up the document search index, distributing these partial indices randomly across nodes (computers), and performing queries by consulting a random subset of partial indices. This PhD will show that the random nature of PAC can increase security by making for an unpredictable adversarial target.