Decentralized Reputation Management for Cooperating Software Agents in Open Multi-Agent Systems
- Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) promise a new advance in distributed computing. In MAS autonomous software agents flexibly cooperate, coordinate, and compete to provide the desired function(s) of such a system. If some components of a MAS fail or do not provide the desired functionality, the system is expected to autonomously deal with these situations. It is desirable to reduce occurrences of such situations by selecting trustworthy cooperation partners before cooperating with them. This becomes even more desirable and important in an open MAS where arbitrary heterogeneous software agents, deployed by different parties, participate in the MAS, as it becomes more likely that these agents fail or try to exploit the MAS for their own purposes without reciprocation. In order to monitor agent behavior and enable selection of trustworthy cooperation partners, trust or reputation management services can be applied. As there is no central control in an open MAS and it is completely distributed these services themselves have to be distributed. This paper proposes a fully distributed reputation management service for open MAS based on peer-to-peer technology (especially distributed hash tables). A Java-based implementation of that service, which is intended as a plug-in for multi-agent platforms, is also described.
Concealing Presence Information in Instant Messaging Systems
- Information about online presence allows participants of instant messaging (IM) systems to determine whether their prospective communication partners will be able to answer their requests in a timely manner, or not. That is why presence information, combined with the ability to send instant messages, makes IM more personal and closer than other forms of communication such as e-mail. On the other hand, revelation of presence constitutes a potential of misuse by untrustworthy entities. A possible risk is the generation of online logs disclosing user habits. This makes presence information a resource worth protecting. We argue, however, that current IM systems do not take reasonable precautions to protect presence information. We implemented an IM system designed to be robust against attacks to disclose a user’s presence. In contrast to existing systems, it stores presence information in a registry in a way that is only detectable and applicable for intended users and not comprehensible even for the registry itself. We use a distributed hash table (DHT) as registry and apply an anonymous communication network to protect the physical addresses of both senders and receivers of messages.