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Seminar: Automating the Protection of Internet Freedoms

Kevin Bock

University of Maryland

Thursday, March 24, 2022
10:00 AM
1100 Torgersen Hall


Users on the Internet face threats from powerful, often politically motivated entities: nation-states deploy increasingly complex network infrastructure to regulate what content citizens can access and can launch powerful attacks. I will present my agenda towards automating the discovery of and protection against threats to internet freedoms, in two broad contexts: network censorship and denial of service attacks. First, I will present Geneva, a genetic algorithm I developed that trains directly against nation-state censors and automatically discovers new ways to evade nation-state censors. I will discuss the novel evasion strategies I found using Geneva, including the first not to require any extra client software whatsoever. Second, I will describe how I used automated methods to discover new denial of service amplification attacks, the nature of which were long thought to be impossible. Collectively, my work shows the power of combining automated techniques with large-scale network measurements. I will close with a discussion of my future agenda towards protecting internet freedoms in the next generation of the censorship arms race.


Kevin Bock is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, advised by Dave Levin. His work focuses on enabling open communication, improving network security, and evading censorship. Kevin is passionate about scaling up undergraduate research, and has advised 26 undergraduate students to date on his anti-censorship team. Kevin has also worked as adjunct faculty for the University of Maryland, where he created and teaches an upper-level undergraduate security course on Penetration Testing every Spring. Kevin's website is available at