Conjure: Summoning proxies from unused address space

Sergey Frolov, Jack Wampler, Sze Chuen Tan, J. Alex Halderman, Nikita Borisov, Eric Wustrow

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


Refraction Networking (formerly known as “Decoy Routing”) has emerged as a promising next-generation approach for circumventing Internet censorship. Rather than trying to hide individual circumvention proxy servers from censors, proxy functionality is implemented in the core of the network, at cooperating ISPs in friendly countries. Any connection that traverses these ISPs could be a conduit for the free flow of information, so censors cannot easily block access without also blocking many legitimate sites. While one Refraction scheme, TapDance, has recently been deployed at ISP-scale, it suffers from several problems: a limited number of “decoy” sites in realistic deployments, high technical complexity, and undesirable tradeoffs between performance and observability by the censor. These challenges may impede broader deployment and ultimately allow censors to block such techniques. We present Conjure, an improved Refraction Networking approach that overcomes these limitations by leveraging unused address space at deploying ISPs. Instead of using real websites as the decoy destinations for proxy connections, our scheme connects to IP addresses where no web server exists leveraging proxy functionality from the core of the network. These phantom hosts are difficult for a censor to distinguish from real ones, but can be used by clients as proxies. We define the Conjure protocol, analyze its security, and evaluate a prototype using an ISP testbed. Our results suggest that Conjure can be harder to block than TapDance, is simpler to maintain and deploy, and offers substantially better network performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCCS 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367479
StatePublished - Nov 6 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event26th ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2019 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: Nov 11 2019Nov 15 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISSN (Print)1543-7221


Conference26th ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2019
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • Anticensorship
  • Network security
  • Proxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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