Thomas Mager, PhD student - Digital Security
Date: October 18th 2012 Location: Eurecom - Eurecom
Wuala is a popular online backup and file sharing system that has been successfully operated for several years. Very little is known about the design and implementation of Wuala. We capture the network traffic exchanged between the machines participating in Wuala to reverse engineer the design and operation of Wuala. When Wuala was launched, it used a clever combination of centralized storage in data centers for long-term backup with peer-assisted file caching of frequently downloaded files. Large files are broken up into transmission blocks and additional transmission blocks are generated using a classical redundancy coding scheme. Multiple transmission blocks are sent in parallel to different machines and reliability is assured via a simple Automatic Repeat Request protocol on top of UDP. Recently, however, Wuala has adopted a pure client/server based architecture. Our findings and the underlying reasons are substantiated by an interview with a co-founder of Wuala. The main reasons are lower resource usage on the client side, which is important in the case of mobile terminals, a much simpler software architecture, and a drastic reduction in the cost of data transfers originating at the data center.