February Innovation Fund Grant Roundup

(We created the Comcast Innovation Fund to support important research into the future of the Internet, with a focus on broadband, security and open-source development. In this monthly roundup series, we highlight grantees and their work.)

We’ve been honored and excited to be able to support a wide range of new research projects through the Comcast Innovation Fund, and this month we’re excited to highlight a quartet of projects that aim to make the Internet more flexible, resilient and secure.

Drexel: IPv6 Video Architecture

The Innovation Fund awarded a grant to Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics to expand upon previous exploratory work in the development of IPv6 based internet video architectures.

Drexel’s work takes place under the broader context of the Glass-to-Glass Internet Ecosystem (GGIE) a global project to advance and evolve the way video is delivered from the glass of a camera to the glass of a viewer’s screen.

Previous GGIE work developed the benefits of bridging named media segments as used in media player manifests and the underlying IPv6 network addresses involved in transporting the streamed media. A lab prototype was developed that permitted live over the Internet experimentation using CDNs and validated the GGIE approach. With the core elements of GGIE established, this current project will focus on evaluating transport protocols and their interaction with GGIE, how IPv6 Segment Routing (SR) enhances GGIE caching, and establishing an open infrastructure for GGIE experimentation.  

DNS-OARC: Evolving “Drool”

In 2016, the Innovation Fund made a grant to fund an open source development project being conducted by Domain Name System Operations, Analysis and Research Center (DNS-OARC). The DNS Replay Tool project, called “drool”, created a new tool to help technologists better understand and respond to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

This grant will fund the next phase of development of drool to improve the performance and add functionality to process and analyze the DNS responses. DNS-OARC expects that this will enable the tool to be used on the world’s largest DNS platforms. They are also focused on revealing more statistical information about what is being replayed, such as the number of responses and if they are valid DNS responses.

Northeastern University: Home Network Privacy

Northeastern University is using its Innovation Fund grant to perform research into revealing and controlling home network privacy leaks, under the direction of David Choffnes.

The project will conduct research into techniques for improving privacy transparency and control by analyzing network traffic as it traverses the home network, with the goal of identifying and stopping leaks before they happen. By focusing on home network traffic, this project will enable simpler and more effective privacy controls that could potentially be deployed to operating systems, home network gear, VPN software, and/or cloud systems. One potential outcome could be the development of free, open-source privacy tools.  

Apart from developing user-facing tools, the researchers expect to publish their findings on public websites and at technical and privacy conferences.

Clarkson University: IPv6 Advancements

We awarded Clarkson University a grant to support the second phase of work that we first funded in 2016 for a proposal entitled “Efficient Aggregation, Update Handling and Equivalence Verification on IPv6 Forwarding Tables under the direction of Assistant Professor Yaoqing Liu.

This research project was motivated by the fast pace that devices and users connecting to the Internet continues to grow and the increasing reliance upon IPv6 addresses. As a result of this growth, the size of routing tables in core Internet routers is growing fast and threatens to exceed a size that many such routers can handle. To overcome or mitigate these problems, aggregating the Forwarding Information Base (FIB) may be a potentially effective solution and would not require architecture or hardware changes.

Assistant Professor Yaoqing Liu is researching a solution that may be relatively easy to deploy because it is a software solution, local to single routers and does not require coordination between routers in a network or between different networks. The second phase is to design and develop new efficient aggregation algorithms that are able to maximally aggregate IPv6 FIB entries and incrementally handle route updates. The project will also develop a novel verification algorithm that can efficiently test the forwarding equivalence between any two IPv6 forwarding tables.

We’re excited to follow the work of all of these researchers as they explore ways to make the Internet safer, stronger and more reliable.

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