PeerPressure and Friends Troubleshooting Network

In this project, we tackle the problem of automatic misconfiguration diagnosis in a scalable, low-overhead, and privacy-preserving way. This project is a subproject of the Strider project.


Technical support contributes 17% of the total cost of ownership of today’s desktop PCs. An important element of technical support is troubleshooting misconfigured applications. Misconfiguration troubleshooting is particularly challenging, because configuration information is shared and altered by multiple applications.

In this work, we present a novel troubleshooting system: PeerPressure, which uses statistics from a set of sample machines to diagnose the root-cause misconfigurations on a sick machine. This is in contrast with methods that require manual identification on a healthy machine for diagnosing misconfigurations [30]. The elimination of this manual operation makes a significant step towards automated misconfiguration troubleshooting.

Friends Troubleshooting Network (FTN)

Content sharing is a popular use of peer-to-peer systems because of their inherent scalability and low cost of maintenance. We leverage this nature of peer-to-peer systems to gather configuration samples needed by the PeerPressure troubleshooter (see above). The key challenges are preserving privacy of individual configuration data and ensuring the integrity of peer contributions. To this end, we construct the Friends Troubleshooting Network (FTN), a peer-to-peer overlay network, where the links between peer machines reflect the friendship of their owners. Our FTN manifests recursive trust rather than transitive trust. To achieve privacy, we use the general scheme of a source-less and destination-less random-walk for routing, during which search is carried out simultaneously with secure parameter aggregation for the purpose of troubleshooting. Our design has been guided by the characteristics of a real-world friends network, the MSN Instant Messenger (IM) network. We have prototyped our FTN system and analyzed the tradeoff between privacy and protocol efficiency.


Automatic Misconfiguration Troubleshooting with PeerPressure
Helen J. Wang, John C. Platt, Yu Chen, Ruyun Zhang, Yi-Min Wang
Usenix OSDI, December, 2004 San Francisco, CA [pdf]

Friends Troubleshooting Network: Towards Privacy-Preserving, Automatic Troubleshooting
Helen J. Wang, Yih-Chun Hu, Chun Yuan, Zheng Zhang, and Yi-Min Wang
The 3rd International Workshop on Peer-to-Peer Systems (IPTPS 2004), San Diego, CA; Feb 26-27, 2004 [pdf]

Privacy-Preserving Friends Troubleshooting Network
Qiang Huang, Helen J. Wang, and Nikita Borisov
ISOC NDSS 2005, Feb, San Diego, CA [pdf]

Applications of Secure Electronic Voting to Automated Privacy-Preserving Troubleshooting
David Jao, Qiang Huang, and Helen J. Wang
ACM CCS, November, 2005 [pdf]

Tech transfer

PeerPressure has been transferred into a Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) toolkit.