Rising Stars 2020:

Maria Apostolaki

PhD Candidate

ETH Zurich

Areas of Interest

  • Network and Communication Sciences
  • Security
  • Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies


Routing security for Blockchain systems


Blockchain technology has received tremendous attention from the research community and the corporate world. As a result, Blockchain has started to affect multiple aspects of our everyday life, making its security of paramount importance. Among all Blockchain applications, cryptocurrencies are the most widely-used offering an open platform for secure and anonymous transactions. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, rely on a peer-to-peer network of nodes that inevitably communicate over the Internet infrastructure. In effect, critical traffic is accessible to multiple Autonomous Systems (ASes), which, if malicious, can perform highly effective attacks. This work demonstrates that a single AS-level adversary is able to compromise (i) the consensus protocol by partitioning the network; (ii) the anonymity of users by mapping pseudonyms to real-world identities; and (iii) the currency’s availability by eclipsing clients. Although these attacks are worrying, this work provides practical and effective ways to counter them both at the network and the application layer. Beyond the importance of cross-layer awareness when designing Blockchain system, this work provides vital momentum for the deployment of network-layer defenses.


Maria is a final-year Ph.D. student at ETH Zurich, advised by Prof. Laurent Vanbever. Her research focuses on Internet routing and its implications on security and performance. She is particularly interested in the impact of the underlying network on Blockchain systems. During her studies, she has been a visiting student at MIT (2019), working on buffer management. She has also worked on analyzing data center traffic as a research intern at Microsoft Research, Redmond (2018), and Google, Mountain View (2017). Before joining ETH, she earned her diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

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