Menu Close

Trust-ware: A Methodology to Analyze, Design, and Secure Trust and Reputation Systems


Fraga Aydillo, David


Moya Fernández, José Manuel; Bankovic, Zorana

Research area

Energy Efficiency

Affiliated Research Center

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

By collective intelligence we understand a form of intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals, or strictly speaking, many entities. Based on this simple definition, we can see how this concept is the field of study of a wide range of disciplines, such as sociology, information science or biology, each of them focused in different kinds of entities: human beings, computational resources, or animals. As a common factor, we can point that collective intelligence has always had the goal of being able of promoting a group intelligence that overcomes the individual intelligence of the basic entities that constitute it. This can be accomplished through different mechanisms such as coordination, cooperation, competence, integration, differentiation, etc. Collective intelligence has historically been developed in a parallel and independent way among the different disciplines that deal with it. However, this is not enough anymore due to the advances in information technologies. Nowadays, human beings and machines coexist in environments where collective intelligence has taken a new dimension: we yet have to achieve a better collective behavior than the individual one, but now we also have to deal with completely different kinds of individual intelligences. Therefore, we have a double goal: being able to deal with this heterogeneity and being able to get even more intelligent behaviors thanks to the synergies that the different kinds of intelligence can generate. Within the areas of collective intelligence there are several open topics where they always try to get better performances from groups than from the individuals. For example: collective consciousness, collective memory, or collective wisdom. Among all these topics we will focus on collective decision making, that has influence in most of the collective intelligent behaviors. The field of study of decision making is really wide, and its evolution has been completely parallel to the aforementioned collective intelligence. Firstly, it was focused on the individual as the main decision-making entity, but later it became involved in studying social and institutional groups as basic decision-making entities. The first studies within the decision-making discipline were based on simple paradigms, such as pros and cons analysis, criteria prioritization, fulfillment, following orders, or even chance. However, in the same way that studying the community instead of the individual meant a paradigm shift within collective intelligence, collective decision-making means a new challenge for all the related disciplines. Besides, two new main topics come up when dealing with collective decision-making: centralized and decentralized decision-making systems. In this thesis project we focus in the second one, because it is the most interesting based on the opportunities to generate new knowledge and deal with open issues in this area, as well as these results can be put into practice in a wider set of real-life environments. Finally, within the decentralized collective decision-making systems discipline, there are several basic mechanisms that lead to different approaches to the specific problems of this field, for example: leadership, imitation, prescription, or fear. We will focus on trust and reputation. They are one of the most multidisciplinary concepts and with more potential for applying them in every kind of environments. Besides, they have historically shown that they can generate better performance than other decentralized decision-making mechanisms. Shortly, we say trust is the belief of one entity that the outcome of other entities’ actions is going to be in a specific way. It is a subjective concept because the trust of two different entities in another one does not have to be the same. Reputation is the collective idea (or social evaluation) that a group of entities within a system have about another entity based on a specific criterion. Thus, it is a collective concept in its origin. It is important to say that the behavior of most of the collective systems are based on these two simple definitions. In fact, a lot of articles and essays describe how any organization would not be viable if the ideas of trust and reputation did not exist. From now on, we call Trust an Reputation System (TRS) to any kind of system that uses these concepts. Even though TRSs are one of the most common everyday aspects in our lives, the existing knowledge about them could not be more dispersed. There are thousands of scientific works in every field of study related to trust and reputation: philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, information sciences, etc. But the main issue is that a comprehensive vision of trust and reputation for all these disciplines does not exist. Every discipline focuses its studies on a specific set of topics but none of them tries to take advantage of the knowledge generated in the other disciplines to improve its behavior or performance. Detailed topics in some fields are completely obviated in others, and even though the study of some topics within several disciplines produces complementary results, these results are not used outside the discipline where they were generated. This leads us to a very high knowledge dispersion and to a lack in the reuse of methodologies, policies and techniques among disciplines. Due to its great importance, this high dispersion of trust and reputation knowledge is one of the main problems this thesis contributes to solve. When we work with TRSs, all the aspects related to security are a constant since it is a vital aspect within the decision-making systems. Besides, TRS are often used to perform some responsibilities related to security. Finally, we cannot forget that the act of trusting is invariably attached to the act of delegating a specific responsibility and, when we deal with these concepts, the idea of risk is always present. This refers to the risk of generated expectations not being accomplished or being accomplished in a different way we anticipated. Thus, we can see that any system using trust to improve or enable its behavior, because of its own nature, is especially vulnerable if the premises it is based on are attacked. Related to this topic, we can see that the approaches of the different disciplines that study attacks of trust and reputation are very diverse. Some attempts of using approaches of other disciplines have been made within the information science area of knowledge, but these approaches are usually incomplete, not systematic and oriented to achieve specific requirements of specific applications. They never try to consolidate a common base of knowledge that could be reusable in other context. Based on all these ideas, this work makes the following direct contributions to the field of TRS: • The compilation of the most relevant existing knowledge related to trust and reputation management systems focusing on their advantages and disadvantages. • We define a generic architecture for TRS, identifying the main entities and processes involved. • We define a generic security framework for TRS. We identify the main security assets and propose a complete taxonomy of attacks for TRS. • We propose and validate a methodology to analyze, design, secure and deploy TRS in real-life environments. Additionally we identify the principal kind of applications we can implement with TRS and how TRS can provide a specific functionality. • We develop a software component to validate and optimize the behavior of a TRS in order to achieve a specific functionality or performance. In addition to the contributions made directly to the field of the TRS, we have made original contributions to different areas of knowledge thanks to the application of the analysis, design and security methodologies previously presented: • Detection of thermal anomalies in Data Centers. Thanks to the application of the TRS analysis and design methodologies, we successfully implemented a thermal anomaly detection system based on a TRS.We compare the detection performance of Self-Organized- Maps and Growing Neural Gas algorithms. We show how SOM provides better results for Computer Room Air Conditioning anomaly detection, yielding detection rates of 100%, in training data with malfunctioning sensors. We also show that GNG yields better detection and isolation rates for workload anomaly detection, reducing the false positive rate when compared to SOM. • Improving the performance of a harvesting system based on swarm computing and social odometry. Through the implementation of a TRS, we achieved to improve the ability of coordinating a distributed network of autonomous robots. The main contribution lies in the analysis and validation of the incremental improvements that can be achieved with proper use information that exist in the system and that are relevant for the TRS, and the implementation of the appropriated trust algorithms based on such information. • Improving Wireless Mesh Networks security against attacks against the integrity, confidentiality or availability of data and communications supported by these networks. Thanks to the implementation of a TRS we improved the detection time rate against these kind of attacks and we limited their potential impact over the system. • We improved the security of Wireless Sensor Networks against advanced attacks, such as insider attacks, unknown attacks, etc. Thanks to the TRS analysis and design methodologies previously described, we implemented countermeasures against such attacks in a complex environment. In our experiments we have demonstrated that our system is capable of detecting and confining various attacks that affect the core network protocols. We have also demonstrated that our approach is capable of rapid attack detection. Also, it has been proven that the inclusion of the proposed detection mechanisms significantly increases the effort the attacker has to introduce in order to compromise the network. Finally we can conclude that, to all intents and purposes, this thesis offers a useful and applicable knowledge in real-life environments that allows us to maximize the performance of any system based on a TRS. Thus, we deal with the main deficiency of this discipline: the lack of a common and complete base of knowledge and the lack of a methodology for the development of TRS that allow us to analyze, design, secure and deploy TRS in a systematic way.