Privacy-preserving proximity detection with secure multi-party computational geometry

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Title: Privacy-preserving proximity detection with secure multi-party computational geometry
Author: Ghasemi, Mandana
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Networking and Service
Abstract: Over the last years, Location-Based Services (LBSs) have become popular due to the global use of smartphones and improvement in Global Positioning System (GPS) and other positioning methods. Location-based services employ users' location to offer relevant information to users or provide them with useful recommendations. Meanwhile, with the development of social applications, location-based social networking services (LBSNS) have attracted millions of users because the geographic position of users can be used to enhance the services provided by those social applications. Proximity detection, as one type of location-based function, makes LBSNS more flexible and notifies mobile users when they are in proximity. Despite all the desirable features that such applications provide, disclosing the exact location of individuals to a centralized server and/or their social friends might put users at risk of falling their information in wrong hands, since locations may disclose sensitive information about people including political and religious affiliations, lifestyle, health status, etc. Consequently, users might be unwilling to participate in such applications. To this end, private proximity detection schemes enable two parties to check whether they are in close proximity while keeping their exact locations secret. In particular, running a private proximity detection protocol between two parties only results in a boolean value to the querier. Besides, it guarantees that no other information can be leaked to the participants regarding the other party's location. However, most proposed private proximity detection protocols enable users to choose only a simple geometric range on the map, such as a circle or a rectangle, in order to test for proximity. In this thesis, we take inspiration from the field of Computational Geometry and develop two privacy-preserving proximity detection protocols that allow a mobile user to specify an arbitrary complex polygon on the map and check whether his/her friends are located therein. We also analyzed the efficiency of our solutions in terms of computational and communication costs. Our evaluation shows that compared to the similar earlier work, the proposed solution increases the computational efficiency by up to 50%, and reduces the communication overhead by up to 90%. Therefore, we have achieved a significant reduction of computational and communication complexity.

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