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Network Working Group                                       I. Learmonth
Internet-Draft                                               Tor Project
Intended status: Informational                         December 12, 2018
Expires: June 15, 2019

       Guidelines for Performing Safe Measurement on the Internet


   Researchers from industry and academia will often use Internet
   measurements as a part of their work.  While these measurements can
   give insight into the functioning and usage of the Internet, they can
   come at the cost of user privacy.  This document describes guidelines
   for ensuring that such measurements can be carried out safely.


   Comments are solicited and should be addressed to the research
   group's mailing list at pearg@irtf.org and/or the author(s).

   The sources for this draft are at:


Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 15, 2019.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2018 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

1.  Introduction

   When performing research using the Internet, as opposed to an
   isolated testbed or simulation platform, means that you research co-
   exists in a space with other users.  This document outlines
   guidelines for academic and industry researchers that might use the
   Internet as part of scientific experiementation.

   Following the guidelines contained within this document is not a
   substitute for any institutional ethics review process you may have,
   although these guidelines could help to inform that process.
   Similarly, these guidelines are not legal advice and local laws
   should be considered before starting any experiment that could have
   adverse impacts on user privacy.

   Considerations are grouped into two categories: those that primarily
   apply to active measurements and those that primarily apply to
   passive measurements.  Some of these considerations may be applicable
   to both depending on the experiment design.

2.  Active measurements

   Active measurements generate traffic.  Performance measurements such
   as TCP throughput testing [RFC6349] or functional measurements such
   as the feature-dependent connectivity failure tests performed by
   [PATHspider] both fall into this category.

2.1.  Use a testbed

   Wherever possible, use a testbed.  An isolated network means that
   there are no other users sharing the infrastructure you are using for
   your experiments.

   When measuring performance, competing traffic can have negative
   effects on the performance of your test traffic and so the testbed
   approach can also produce more accurate and repeatable results than
   experiments using the public Internet.

   WAN link conditions can be emulated through artificial delays and/or
   packet loss using a tool like [netem].  Competing traffic can also be
   emulated using traffic generators.

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2.2.  Only record your own traffic

   When performing measurements be sure to only capture traffic that you
   have generated.  Traffic may be identified by IP ranges or by some
   token that is unlikely to be used by other users.

   Again, this can help to improve the accuracy and repeatability of
   your experiment.  [RFC2544], for performance benchmarking, requires
   that any frames received that were not part of the test traffic are
   discarded and not counted in the results.

2.3.  Be respectful of other's infrastructure

   If your experiment is designed to trigger a response from
   infrastructure that is not your own, consider what the negative
   consequences of that may be.  At the very least your experiment will
   consume bandwidth that may have to be paid for.

   In more extreme circumstances, you could cause traffic to be
   generated that causes legal trouble for the owner of that
   infrastructure.  The Internet is a global network crossing many legal
   jurisdictions and so what may be legal for you is not necessarily
   legal for everyone.

   If you are sending a lot of traffic quickly, or otherwise generally
   deviate from typical client behaviour, a network may identify this as
   an attack which means that you will not be collecting results that
   are representative of what a typical client would see.

3.  Passive measurements

   Performing passive measurements requires existing traffic.  Passive
   measurements can help to inform new developments in Internet
   protocols but can also carry risk.

3.1.  Consider the expectation of privacy

   If you are in a position to perform passive measurements of live
   network traffic, you are also in a position of responsibility.  Users
   of a network will have certain expectations of privacy and those
   expectations may not align with the privacy guarantees offered by the
   technologies they are using.  As a thought experiment, consider how
   users might respond if you asked for their informed consent for the
   measurements you'd like to perform.

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3.2.  Only collect data that is safe to make public

   When deciding on the data to collect, assume that any data collected
   might become public.  There are many ways that this could happen,
   through operation security mistakes or compulsion by a judicial

3.3.  Minimization

   For all data collected, consider whether or not it is really needed.

3.4.  Aggregation

   When collecting data, consider if the granularity can be limited by
   using bins or adding noise.  XXX: Differential privacy.

3.5.  Source Aggregation

   Do this at the source, definitely do it before you write to disk.

   [Tor.2017-04-001] presents a case-study on the in-memory statistics
   in the software used by the Tor network, as an example.

4.  Risk Analysis

   The benefits should outweigh the risks.  Consider auxiliary data
   (e.g. third-party data sets) when assessing the risks.

5.  Security Considerations

   Take reasonable security precautions, e.g. about who has access to
   your data sets or experimental systems.

6.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no actions for IANA.

7.  Acknowledgements

   Many of these considerations are based on those from the
   [TorSafetyBoard] adapted and generalised to be applied to Internet

8.  Informative References

   [netem]    Stephen, H., "Network emulation with NetEm", April 2005.

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              Learmonth, I., Trammell, B., Kuehlewind, M., and G.
              Fairhurst, "PATHspider: A tool for active measurement of
              path transparency", DOI 10.1145/2959424.2959441, July

   [RFC2544]  Bradner, S. and J. McQuaid, "Benchmarking Methodology for
              Network Interconnect Devices", RFC 2544,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2544, March 1999,

   [RFC6349]  Constantine, B., Forget, G., Geib, R., and R. Schrage,
              "Framework for TCP Throughput Testing", RFC 6349,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6349, August 2011,

              Herm, K., "Privacy analysis of Tor's in-memory
              statistics", Tor Tech Report 2017-04-001,

              Tor Project, "Tor Research Safety Board",

Author's Address

   Iain R. Learmonth
   Tor Project

   Email: irl@torproject.org

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