Content Censorship in the InterPlanetary File System

A MSc thesis at UCLouvain leads to an international collaboration to improve the security of the InterPlanetary File System

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is the largest decentralized storage platform in operation, hosting content for many blockchain-based applications and hosting web3 content. In their MSc thesis defended in 2022, and supervised by Pr. Etienne Rivière, UCLouvain and Dr. Michał Król, City, University of London, François Genon and Sébastien Pierre identified an attack allowing to censor content stored in IPFS and make it undiscoverable. The attack was communicated following responsible vulnerability disclosure policies to Protocol Labs, the main player behind the IPFS open-source software. This discovery led to a collaboration between UCLouvain and an international consortium including Protocol Labs, Stanford University, Lancaster University and University College London. This consortium proposed modifications to core IPFS protocols, that will soon be integrated in IPFS. The new, more secure protocols now enable machines participating to the IPFS network to autonomously detect the attack initially identified by François and Sébastien and to guarantee content discoverability.

The paper describing these results has been selected for the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) 2024 that will take place in San Diego from Feb 27 to March 3rd 2024.

Authors: Srivatsan Sridhar (Stanford University); Onur Ascigil (Lancaster University); Navin Keizer (University College London); François Genon (UCLouvain); Sébastien Pierre (UCLouvain); Yiannis Psaras (Protocol Labs); Etienne Riviere (UCLouvain); Michał Król (City, University of London)

Published on July 11, 2023