Dynamic topologies for robust scale-free networks

Shishir Nagaraja, Ross Anderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

4 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, the field of anonymity and traffic analysis have attracted much research interest. However, the analysis of subsequent dynamics of attack and defense, between an adversary using such topology information gleaned from traffic analysis to mount an attack, and defenders in a network, has recieved very little attention. Often an attacker tries to disconnect a network by destroying nodes or edges, while the defender counters using various resilience mechanisms. Examples include a music industry body attempting to close down a peer-to-peer file-sharing network; medics attempting to halt the spread of an infectious disease by selective vaccination; and a police agency trying to decapitate a terrorist organisation. Albert, Jeong and Barabási famously analysed the static case, and showed that vertex-order attacks are effective against scale-free networks. We extend this work to the dynamic case by developing a framework to explore the interaction of attack and defence strategies. We show, first, that naive defences don't work against vertex-order attack; second, that defences based on simple redundancy don't work much better, but that defences based on cliques work well; third, that attacks based on centrality work better against clique defences than vertex-order attacks do; and fourth, that defences based on complex strategies such as delegation plus clique resist centrality attacks better than simple clique defences. Our models thus build a bridge between network analysis and traffic analysis, and provide a framework for analysing defence and attack in networks where topology matters. They suggest definitions of efficiency of attack and defence, and may even explain the evolution of insurgent organisations from networks of cells to a more virtual leadership that facilitates operations rather than directing them. Finally, we draw some conclusions and present possible directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBio-Inspired Computing and Communication - First Workshop on Bio-Inspired Design of Networks, BIOWIRE 2007, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsP. Liò, E. Yoneki , J. Crowcroft, D. C. Verma
Place of PublicationBerlin
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)3540921907, 9783540921905
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Event1st Workshop on Bio-Inspired Design of Networks, BIOWIRE 2007 - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Apr 20075 Apr 2007

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume5151 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference1st Workshop on Bio-Inspired Design of Networks, BIOWIRE 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • covert groups
  • robustness
  • scale-free networks
  • security
  • topology
  • traffic analysis


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