Strangers can build a fairly complete picture of our movements, transactions and relationships from the cyber-trail we leave behind. This has major implications for what has become a pervasive tool to society, business and administrations.
Privacy and identity management are fast becoming fundamental to future developments on the internet. Hard-won trust in e-commerce and in using e-government services, for example, could quickly erode if security issues are not properly addressed.
Two basic rules govern how people can better protect themselves online, according to specialists. First, we need to “separate contexts” so that observers cannot accumulate sensitive data – basically, by making it much harder for cyber-spies to join the online dots of our lives. Second, and crucially, we have to really keep track of what we do disclose.
These rules form the basis of the concepts and prototypes developed within the PRIME project. Perhaps borrowing from the Joan Armatrading song, PRIME’s mantra is “Me, myself and I! Manage your identities safely”.
“Our main aim is for people to gain autonomy over their personal data, so they can make informed decisions on what information they provide online,” says project partner Marit Hansen of Germany’s Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD, the Data Protection Authority for Land Schleswig-Holstein).
Like a good poker player who never fully reveals his hand, good identity management (IDM) means choosing and developing appropriate partial identities. For example, OnionCoffee is a PRIME software module written in Java to help end-users exchange information anonymously over the internet.
The EU-funded project has put together a toolbox, console (interface for managing identity online) and middleware (software to glue components together) to help individuals and organisations wrest control of their online identities.
The toolbox or building blocks make good use of tutorials, application modules and documentation, including a White Paper published in 2007. The tools PRIME developed marry the need for accountability (i.e. proving you are 18 to enter certain websites) with the need for anonymity.
A key component is the use of “private credentials” derived from certificates issued by, say, professional ID providers, such as online payment operators, on different pseudonyms for the same person.
“Multiple private credentials can be created from a single certificate,” says Hansen. Using cryptography, there is nothing tying them so the person's anonymity is assured. If the system is abused – i.e. fraudulent and/or antisocial behaviour – the anonymity built into the private credentials can be revoked, and appropriate action taken against the individual, she warns.Sticky policies
“Sticky policies” can also be written into IDM applications so that the policy literally travels on the back of the data being transferred. This means, if data is passed on (legally) to third parties, the policy stays with the data, thus protecting the source’s privacy (i.e. that means you and I).
So using a combination of pseudonyms and PRIME private credentials, data provided through e-commerce, e-health, or e-government applications are secured against future misuse. In principle, this also works in web-mail accounts and online social networking, which is one of the extended scenarios dealt with in the follow-up EU-funded project PrimeLife, starting in 2008.PET project
Data Track also records the privacy policies of the service providers, and lets you query how your data has been used after the fact. It also helps you (re)use appropriate accounts – logins and passwords – in different contexts, keeping them apart (unless otherwise instructed).
PRIME has developed its tools and applications in the sprit of the EU’s ‘privacy enhancing technologies’ (PET) initiative. According to the European Commission, wider development and use of PETs should boost efforts to protect citizens’ privacy. The project is also actively engaged in standard setting, such as ISO and W3C, in identity management.
Since 2004, PRIME has pioneered this multiple-context approach to digital IDM, suggests Hansen. Today, as online security concerns have grown, there is an even stronger case for its approach, as well as an untapped market for its components, especially with digital signature providers and mobile data handlers.
“The market is ripe for better data protection and privacy solutions, especially as more mobile data transactions take place, and we are well placed to capitalise on this,” confirms Hansen. “In fact, we’re very interested in commercial or marketing partnerships to make this happen.”
PRIME has already spun-off a location-based service system to Germany’s T-Mobile and plans to refine some of its tools and platforms, particularly in data structuring and workflow, in PrimeLife, which was recently presented at the CISTRANA Topical Seminar on ICT Security.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans
16.01.2017 | University of Southern California
Fraunhofer FIT announces CloudTeams collaborative software development platform – join it for free
10.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering