Towards a Secure Zero-rating Framework with Three Parties


Zero-rating services provide users with free access to contracted or affiliated Content Providers (CPs), but also incur new types of free-riding attacks. Specifically, a malicious user can masquerade a zero-rating CP or alter an existing zero-rating communication to evade charges enforced by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). According to our study, major commercial ISPs, such as T-Mobile, China Mobile, and airport WiFi, are all vulnerable to such free-riding attacks. In this paper, we propose a secure, backward compatible, zero-rating framework, called ZFree, which only allows network traffic authorized by the correct CP to be zero-rated. We perform a formal security analysis using ProVerif, and the results show that ZFree is secure, i.e., preserving both packet integrity and CP server authenticity. We have implemented an open-source prototype of ZFree available at this repository ( A working demo is at this link ( Our evaluation shows that ZFree is lightweight, scalable and secure.

USENIX Security Symposium