Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Design could help Facebook members limit security leaks

A sign-up interface created by Penn State researchers for Facebook apps could help members prevent personal information -- and their friends' information -- from leaking out through third-party games and apps to hackers and identity thieves.

When Facebook members sign up for apps developed by third-party companies, they may not know that these apps are sometimes overriding their global settings on privacy preferences and information sharing, said Heng Xu, assistant professor of information sciences and technology.

"One illusion is that people think that they have set global privacy settings, so it's secure," said Xu. "But the broken element is in the third-party applications that people use to play games and interact in different ways with each other on Facebook."

Members who sign up for an app must agree to new terms of information disclosure that are often different from their main Facebook privacy settings when they sign up for an app, Xu said. The sign-up screen currently is a general agreement that shows information third-party developers are requesting. If the member does not agree, the member cannot use the app.

The screen designed by the researchers allows members to decide what types of information they are comfortable sharing and with whom they want to share it.

Xu, who worked with Na Wang, doctoral candidate, and Jens Grossklags, assistant professor, both of information sciences and technology, designed two alternative third-party privacy agreement screens to clearly show members what data and privacy details they agree to share with the developer.

The researchers, who presented their findings today (Dec. 4) at the Association for Computer Machinery Symposium on Computer Human Interaction for Management of Information Technology, Boston, asked a group of Facebook members to try two app sign-up page designs, a single-color scheme and one that used three colors -- green, yellow and red -- to designate critical information. The design also features three boxes to offer members the option to share their app activity history with all the members of their network, just specific people, or keep all of the information private.

Of the 11 participants, all said that improving the security and privacy of the sign-up pages is important. Six of the testers preferred the multiple-colored scheme to the monochromatic version.

Privacy settings allow members to determine how much information the member wants to display or share with their members of their network and Facebook. This data can include birthdate, hometown and current city, as well as pictures the members uploaded to their pages.

Members may not consider data like hometown or birthdates vital information, but Xu said that hackers can use such information to guess social security numbers.

Xu said that people may not even know that they may expose their friends' personal data if they use apps. A calendar app, for example, could allow developers to access the member's birthdate, as well as the birthdate of friends who are part of the member's network.

"Some people may know that they are allowing these companies to access their data," Xu said. "However, they might not know that their info will be leaked through their friends, use of games and other applications on Facebook."

According to Xu, many Facebook app developers try to make money from their games and tools by selling or sharing the data with advertisers and other companies.

"The only way to find out how the information is going to be used is to go to each app's website and review the terms of use," Xu said. "And many people won't do that."

The National Science Foundation supported their work.

Matt Swayne | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Design Thinking Facebook Information Sciences third-party games

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>