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WonderDAC

Kevin Roebuck
Director, Digital Experience

Tim is a PhD student over at the University of Notre Dame whose dissertation proposal was just approved around access control models for avatars, media, security and data protection in Wonderland in a project called WonderDAC. We caught up yesterday to see how Sun can help his efforts which mostly center for now on possible travel support for conferences and promotion of his work in the community.
Here's a draft Tim wrote about the work for an idea of where it's going and why we support is efforts.


"As collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) become more functional and integrated into our computing endeavors, there is an increasing need to protect data and resources available therein. This need must address not only spatial access(i.e., who can move their avatar where), but also media access (who can view which images or hear what sounds) and object use/mutability (who can use and change which VR objects). All of this succinctly be referred to as privacy and integrity within CVEs. It's noteworthy that some degree of access control exists within various commercial CVEs -- but, this is largely spatial in nature, and is often confusing with a slapped-together feel. Project Wonderland, however, presents us with a great opportunity to devise coherent, sensible access controls. Because its life cycle is still in the early stages, we have the chance to design controls into Project Wonderland's features rather than around them. Also, its client-server model can be leveraged to provide a trusted platform on which to base our controls (i.e., we can secure the sever endpoint and, thus, have assurances about access controls implemented there). A peer-to-peer environment, in comparison, has the very difficult problem of securing information that may already reside with all peer nodes. Recently, I implemented a simple prototype, called WonderDAC, to add basic discretionary access controls to Project Wonderland's 0.3 release. Over the next year, I will be working extensively on WonderDAC to evolve it along several lines: spatial object access, non-spatial object access, audio chat access (this may fit with the cone-of-silence feature planned for the 0.4 release), avatar cloaking (anonymizing an avatar's image), and access to WonderDAC information through a user interface. Foremost in my approach is simplicity:  I adapt the essence of traditional, UNIX-style file system controls to the Project Wonderland. In so doing, a recognizable, easy-to-use access control mechanism may be derived."
Cool stuff Tim

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