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Quantifying Location Privacy

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The popularity of personal communication devices leads to serious concerns about privacy in general, and location privacy in particular. As a response to these issues, a number of Location-Privacy Protection Mechanisms (LPPMs) have been proposed during the last decade. However, their assessment and comparison remains problematic because of the absence of a systematic method to quantify them. In particular, the assumptions about the attacker’s model tend to be incomplete, with the risk of a possibly wrong estimation of the users’ location privacy.

I will talk about how we address these issues by providing a formal framework for the analysis of LPP Ms; it captures, in particular, the prior information that might be available to the attacker, and various attacks that he can perform. By formalizing the adversary’s performance, we propose and justify the right metric to quantify location privacy. We find that popular privacy metrics, such as k-anonymity and entropy, do not correlate well with the success of the adversary in inferring users’ locations.

Joint work with R. Shokri, J.-Y. Le Boudec, and J.-P. Hubaux.

Bio: George Theodorakopoulos is a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby. He received his B.Sc. at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, in 2002, 2004 and 2007, respectively. From 2007 to 2011, he was a senior researcher at EPFL working with Prof. Jean-Yves Le Boudec.

His research is on network security, privacy, and trust. Together with his Ph.D. advisor, John S. Baras, he has received the best paper award at WiSe’04, the 2007 IEEE ComSoc Leonard Abraham prize, and he has co-authored the book “Path Problems in Networks” on algebraic (semiring) generalizations of shortest path algorithms and their applications to networking problems.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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