Breaching IM session privacy using causality

Saad Saleh, Mamoon Raja, Muhammad Shahnawaz, Muhammad U. Ilyas, Khawar Khurshid, M. Zubair Shafiq, Alex X. Liu, Hayder Radha, Shirish S. Karande

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


The breach of privacy in encrypted instant messenger (IM) service is a serious threat to user anonymity. Performance of previous de-anonymization strategies was limited to 65%. We perform network de-anonymization by taking advantage of the cause-effect relationship between sent and received packet streams and demonstrate this approach on a data set of Yahoo! IM service traffic traces. An investigation of various measures of causality shows that IM networks can be breached with a hit rate of 99%. A KCI Causality based approach alone can provide a true positive rate of about 97%. Individual performances of Granger, Zhang and IGCI causality are limited owing to the very low SNR of packet traces and variable network delays.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2014 IEEE Global Communications Conference
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-1-4799-3512-3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014
Event2014 IEEE Global Communications Conference - Austin, TX, USA
Duration: 8 Dec 201412 Dec 2014


Conference2014 IEEE Global Communications Conference


  • Servers
  • Signal to noise ratio
  • Delays
  • Correlation
  • Educational institutions
  • IP networks

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