Proteus: Programmable Protocols for Censorship Circumvention

Authors: Ryan Wails (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and Georgetown University), Rob Jansen (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory), Aaron Johnson (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory), Micah Sherr (Georgetown University)

Year: 2023
Issue: 2
Pages: 50–66

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Abstract: We present the Proteus system for censorship circumvention. Proteus provides a programmable protocol environment in which new communication protocols can be expressed as concise and comprehensible specification files. This design allows clients and proxies to quickly respond to new censorship strategies just by installing new specification files. Proteus improves on prior programmable designs by improving host safety from malicious specifications, providing a specification language that is complete and comprehensible to non-specialists, and supporting multiple simultaneous protocols at a proxy for versioning and localization. This paper represents work in progress and provides an overview of the Proteus design, as well as examples showing that it can express existing encrypted protocols.

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