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IEEE Security and Privacy Test-of-Time award

22 July 2021

A paper by Dr George Theodorakopoulos, and colleagues, has been selected for an IEEE Security and Privacy Test-of-Time Award at the internationally recognised IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy held in May.

The paper, “Quantifying Location Privacy” was co-authored with colleagues, Dr Reza Shokri from the National University of Singapore, Jean-Yves Le Boudec and Jean Pierre Hubaux from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Switzerland.

“One of the major problems in data privacy is the quantification of the privacy loss; having a measure that allows you to assess the information leakage of a system; and a privacy test algorithm that can perform this measurement in a consistent way across a wide range of systems,” said Dr Reza Shokri.

The team set out to find a way to solve this problem for location data which is the sensitive data linked to your identity and can lead to leaks about your preferences and your social circles. They found that there were myriad approaches to solve location privacy and there were numerous metrics proposed for evaluating them. A major motivation for the research was to compare all these privacy mechanisms.

“By looking at disparate attacker objectives via a single lens, that of Bayesian inference, we were able to place them in context and notice deficiencies that some of them had. More importantly, we were able to construct a framework that can be used for the design and evaluation of new mechanisms,” said Dr Theodorakopoulos.

The team believe that the work they have done has had a significant influence on the direction of research in this field, and has helped construct more systematic approaches for protecting location privacy. The team have found that the impact of this approach has also gone beyond quantifying “location” privacy, and has helped the risk analysis for other high-dimensional sensitive data such as genomic and medical data.

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