Thesis Topic Details

Topic ID:
Privacy threats in online social networks.
Guillaume Jourjon
Research Area:
Privacy, Online Social Networks
Associated Staff
Salil Kanhere
Topic Details
R & D
Group Suitable:
Web programming expertise
OSN user profiles represent a rich source of personal information, including demographic information, users' interests and their social relations. Privacy threats resulting from this direct exposure of personal information have been widely publicized and researched. To provide user's greater control over their privacy, OSNs provide users with access control settings allowing them to restrict the access to their personal information. This mechanism has been proven to be effective, as users have become dramatically more private. However, the introduction of open APIs for OSNs have created indirect ways to access users' personal information. In particular, a third-party application (app) can query the OSN on behalf of a user to fetch the user's personal information. Third-party OSN applications are tremendously popular with some apps being actively used by more than 100 million users in Facebook. Besides, with apps potentially having access to users' personal information, through access permissions, they introduce an alternative avenue for privacy leakage. With the users' personal information being exposed outside of the OSN sphere, the privacy risk becomes even higher.
We will examine third-party OSN applications for two major OSNs: Facebook and RenRen. These third-party applications typically gather, from the OSN, user personal information, such as user ID, user name, gender, list of friends, email address, and so on. Third-party applications also typically interact with fourth parties," such as ad networks, data brokers, and analytics services. According to Facebook's Terms of Service, third-party applications are prohibited from sharing users' personal information, collected from Facebook, with such fourth parties. We will develop a measurement platform to study the interaction between OSN applications and fourth parties.
The student will work closely with researchers in the NICTA Networks Research Group. The project will be primarily based at the NICTA ATP laboratory, where the work environment is a group comprised of junior and senior research staff, and PhD students. IT support and resources will be provided by NICTA.
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