Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Richard A. Raines, PhD


Online intelligence operations use the Internet to gather information on the activities of U.S. adversaries. The security of these operations is paramount, and one way to avoid being linked to the Department of Defense (DoD) is to use anonymous communication systems. One such system, Tor, makes interactive TCP services anonymous. Tor uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol and is thus vulnerable to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that can significantly delay data traversing the Tor network. This research uses client puzzles to mitigate TLS DDoS attacks. A novel puzzle protocol, the Memoryless Puzzle Protocol (MPP), is conceived, implemented, and analyzed for anonymity and DDoS vulnerabilities. Consequently, four new secondary DDoS and anonymity attacks are identified and defenses are proposed. Furthermore, analysis of the MPP identified and resolved two important shortcomings of the generalized client puzzle technique. Attacks that normally induce victim CPU utilization rates of 80-100% are reduced to below 70%. Also, the puzzle implementation allows for user-data latency to be reduced by close to 50% during a large-scale attack .Finally, experimental results show successful mitigation can occur without sending a puzzle to every requesting client. By adjusting the maximum puzzle strength, CPU utilization can be capped at 70% even when an arbitrary client has only a 30% chance of receiving a puzzle.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number