Section: Research Program


In a world of ubiquitous technologies, each individual constantly leaves digital traces related to his activities and interests. The current business plan of many web services such as social networks, is based on the sale of these digital traces. Of course, this is usually done in a legal way, the license of use clearly stating that the user gives the right to the service provider for using his personal data. However, on the one hand, users generally do not read these licenses, and on the other hand, these licenses are usually very vague on the use of personal data (Besides, it has been shown that service providers do not necessarily comply with their own license.). In addition these digital traces can potentially be stolen and maliciously used, they must therefore be protected. In this context, users' privacy is now recognized as a fundamental individual right. Any new IT service should thus follow the privacy-by-design approach: privacy issues have to be studied from the earliest phase of a project by taking into account the multi-stakeholders and transdisciplinary aspects in order to ensure proper, end-to-end private data protection properties.

In the CIDRE project, we mainly focus on domains in which privacy issues collide with provided services. Here are some concrete examples of such domains:

  • Location-based services: the challenge is to design services that depend on the user's location while preserving the privacy of his location;

  • Social networks: the challenge is to demonstrate that it is possible to design social networks respectful of users' privacy;

  • Mobile services: given that such services are based on user's identity, the challenge is to design mobile services while preserving the users' anonymity;

  • Ad-hoc netwoks: in ad-hoc networks, any participant can potentially know the relative location of the other participants. Thus, the issue is to allow nodes to forward messages while preserving the privacy of the communications.

For all of these domains, we have proposed new Privacy-Enhancing Techniques (PETs) based on a mix of different foundations such as cryptographic techniques, security policies and access control mechanisms, just to name a few. More generally, we think that a major option to protect users' privacy consists in using a decentralized architecture that enables to transfer control and services from the service providers to the users.

The concept of IDS seems to be in contradiction with the users' privacy. Indeed, an IDS is a monitoring system that needs to collect and analyze information coming from different levels such as network, applications and OS, this information being able to include users' personal data. However, we are confident that IDS and privacy are not completely antagonist. In particular, integrating some privacy features inside an IDS to build a privacy-preserving IDS may allow to limit the amount of information that can leak if one of the nodes within the system is compromised. On the other hand, enabling IDS to detect attacks against privacy as well as security violations can extend the range of their applicability.