[WING] NOW: Evangelos Markatos: Privacy-Preserving Social Plugins

Crovella, Mark E crovella at bu.edu
Tue Jun 12 14:56:17 EDT 2012

Starting NOW!

Boston University Computer Science and Center for Reliable Information Systems and Computer Security (RISCS)
Title: Privacy-Preserving Social Plugins
Tuesday, June 12, 3pm
Hariri Institute
The widespread adoption of social plugins, such as Facebook's Like and Google's +1 buttons, has raised concerns about their implications to user privacy, as they enable social networking services to track a growing part of their members' browsing activity. Existing mitigations in the form of browser extensions can prevent social plugins from tracking user visits, but inevitably disable any kind of content personalization, ruining the user experience.
In this work we describe a novel design for privacy-preserving social plugins that decouples the retrieval of user-specific content from the loading of a social plugin. In contrast to existing solutions, this design preserves the functionality of existing social plugins by delivering the same personalized content, while it protects user privacy by avoiding the transmission of user-identifying information
We have implemented our design in SafeButton, an add-on for Firefox that fully supports seven out of the nine social plugins currently provided by Facebook, including the Like button, and partially due to API restrictions the other two.
As privacy-preserving social plugins maintain the functionality of existing social plugins, we envisage that they could be adopted by social networking services themselves for the benefit of their members. To that end, we also present a pure JavaScript design that can be offered transparently as a service without the need to install any browser add-ons.

Prof. Evangelos Markatos received his diploma in Computer Engineering from  the University of Patras in 1988, and the M.S and Ph.D. degrees in  Computer Science from the University of Rochester, NY in 1990 and 1993  respectively. Since 1992, he collaborates with the Institute of Computer  Science of the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (ICS-FORTH)  where he is currently the founder and head of the Distributed Computing  Systems Laboratory. He conducts research in several areas including  distributed and parallel systems, the World-Wide Web, Internet Systems and  Technologies, as well as Computer and Communication Systems Security.  He  has been the project manager of the LOBSTER and NoAH projects, both funded  in part by the European Union and focusing on developing novel approaches  to network monitoring and network security. He is currently the project  manager of the i-code and SysSec projects.  Since 1992, he has also been affiliated with the Computer Science  Department of the University of Crete, where he is currently a full  Professor.
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