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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2004

Stefanos Gritzalis

This paper presents a state‐of‐the‐art review of the Web privacy and anonymity enhancing security mechanisms, tools, applications and services, with respect to their…

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2812

Abstract

This paper presents a state‐of‐the‐art review of the Web privacy and anonymity enhancing security mechanisms, tools, applications and services, with respect to their architecture, operational principles and vulnerabilities. Furthermore, to facilitate a detailed comparative analysis, the appropriate parameters have been selected and grouped in classes of comparison criteria, in the form of an integrated comparison framework. The main concern during the design of this framework was to cover the confronted security threats, applied technological issues and users' demands satisfaction. GNUnet's Anonymity Protocol (GAP), Freedom, Hordes, Crowds, Onion Routing, Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P), TRUSTe, Lucent Personalized Web Assistant (LPWA), and Anonymizer have been reviewed and compared. The comparative review has clearly highlighted that the pros and cons of each system do not coincide, mainly due to the fact that each one exhibits different design goals and thus adopts dissimilar techniques for protecting privacy and anonymity.

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Information Management & Computer Security, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0968-5227

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Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Rami Puzis, Dana Yagil, Yuval Elovici and Dan Braha

The purpose of this paper is to model and study the effectiveness of an attack on the anonymity of Internet users by a group of collaborating eavesdroppers.

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1333

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to model and study the effectiveness of an attack on the anonymity of Internet users by a group of collaborating eavesdroppers.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an analysis of the Internet topology. The study is based on two methods for choosing nodes that contribute the most to the detection of as many communicating Internet users as possible.

Findings

The paper illustrates that it is possible to compromise the anonymity of many Internet users when eavesdropping on a relatively small number of nodes, even when the most central ones are protected from eavesdropping.

Research limitations/implications

It is assumed that the Internet users under attack are not using any anonymity enhancing technologies, but nodes can be protected from eavesdropping. It proposes a measure of the success of an attack on Internet users' anonymity, for a given deployment of collaborating eavesdroppers in the Internet.

Practical implications

The paper shows that several, and not necessarily the most prominent, collaborating nodes can compromise the anonymity of a considerable portion of Internet users. This study also emphasizes that when trying to completely compromise the anonymity of Internet users, an eavesdroppers' deployment strategy that considers eavesdroppers' collaboration can result in substantial resource saving compared to choosing a set of the most prominent nodes.

Originality/value

The paper proposes a new measure of anonymity level in the network, based on the linkability of the Internet users. This paper is the first to present results of a non‐trivial Group Betweenness optimization strategy in large complex networks.

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Internet Research, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Stephen Cory Robinson

The viability of online anonymity is questioned in today’s online environment where many technologies enable tracking and identification of individuals. In light of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The viability of online anonymity is questioned in today’s online environment where many technologies enable tracking and identification of individuals. In light of the shortcomings of the government, industry and consumers in protecting anonymity, it is clear that a new perspective for ensuring anonymity is needed. Where current stakeholders have failed to protect anonymity, some proponents argue that economic models exist for valuation of anonymity. By placing a monetary value on anonymity through Rawls’ concept of primary goods, it is possible to create a marketplace for anonymity, therefore allowing users full control of how their personal data is used. This paper aims to explore the creation of a data marketplace, offering users the possibility of engaging with companies and other entities to sell and auction personal data. Importantly, participation in a marketplace does not sacrifice one’s anonymity, as there are different levels of anonymity in online systems.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a conceptual framework based on the abstractions of anonymity and data valuation.

Findings

The manuscript constructs a conceptual foundation for exploring the development and deployment of a personal data marketplace. By suggesting features allowing individuals’ control of their personal data, and properly establishing monetary valuation of one’s personal data, it is argued that individuals will undertake a more proactive management of personal data.

Originality/value

An overview of the available services and products offering increased anonymity is explored, in turn, illustrating the beginnings of a market response for anonymity as a valuable good. By placing a monetary value on individuals’ anonymity, it is reasoned that individuals will more consciously protect their anonymity in ways where legislation and other practices (i.e. privacy policies, marketing opt-out) have failed.

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Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, vol. 19 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5038

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Aameek Singh, Bugra Gedik and Ling Liu

To provide mutual anonymity over traditionally un‐anonymous Distributed Hash Tables (DHT) based Peer‐to‐Peer overlay networks, while maintaining the desired scalability…

Abstract

Purpose

To provide mutual anonymity over traditionally un‐anonymous Distributed Hash Tables (DHT) based Peer‐to‐Peer overlay networks, while maintaining the desired scalability and guaranteed lookup properties of the DHTs.

Design/methodology/approach

Agyaat uses a novel hybrid‐overlay design, a fully decentralized topology without any trusted proxies. It anonymizes both the querying and responding peers through the use of unstructured topologies, called clouds, which are added onto the structured overlays. In addition, it regulates the cloud topologies to ensure the guaranteed location of data and scalability of routing. A unique characteristic of the design is the ability of users to tradeoff between desired anonymity and performance. The paper presents a thorough performance and anonymity analysis of the system, and also analyzes few anonymity compromising attacks and countermeasures.

Findings

The results indicate that Agyaat is able to provide mutual anonymity while maintaining the scalability of lookups, affecting the costs only by a constant factor.

Research limitations/implications

While Agyaat is able to meet its mutual anonymity and performance goals, there exist other security vulnerabilities like possible Denial‐of‐Service (DoS) attacks, both due to its design and the underlying DHT overlay. This is fertile ground for future work.

Originality/value

Agyaat uses a novel topology architecture and associated protocols that are conducive to providing mutually anonymous services.

Details

Internet Research, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2012

Stefan Larsson, Måns Svensson, Marcin de Kaminski, Kari Rönkkö and Johanna Alkan Olsson

The purpose of this study is to understand more of online anonymity in the global file sharing community in the context of social norms and copyright law. The study…

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1736

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to understand more of online anonymity in the global file sharing community in the context of social norms and copyright law. The study describes the respondents in terms of use of VPN or similar service related to age, gender, geographical location, as well as analysing the correlation with file sharing frequencies.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is to a large extent descriptively collecting data through a web‐based survey. This was carried out in collaboration with the BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay (TPB), allowing the authors to link the survey from the main logo of their site. In 72 hours the authors received over 75,000 responses, which gives the opportunity to compare use of anonymity services with factors of age, geographical region, file sharing frequency, etc.

Findings

Overall, 17.8 per cent of the respondents use a VPN or similar service (free or paid). A core of high frequency uploaders is more inclined to use VPN or similar services than the average file sharer. Online anonymity practices in the file sharing community are depending on how legal and social norms correlate (more enforcement means more anonymity).

Research limitations/implications

The web‐based survey was in English and mainly attracted visitors on The Pirate Bays' web page. This means that it is likely that those who do not have the language skills necessary were excluded from the survey.

Practical implications

This study adds to the knowledge of anonymity practices online in terms of traceability and identification. This means that it shows some of the conditions for legal enforcement in a digital environment.

Social implications

This study adds to the knowledge of how the Internet is changing in terms of a polarization between stronger means of legally enforced identification and a growing awareness of how to be more untraceable.

Originality/value

The scale of the survey, with over 75,000 respondents from most parts of the world, has likely not been seen before on this topic. The descriptive study of anonymity practices in the global file sharing community is therefore likely unique.

Details

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7122

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Article
Publication date: 20 December 2007

Tianbo Lu, Binxing Fang, Yuzhong Sun and Xueqi Cheng

As a peer‐to‐peer scalable anonymous communication system, WonGoo is a tradeoff between anonymity and efficiency. Usually, the longer the path, the stronger the anonymity

Abstract

Purpose

As a peer‐to‐peer scalable anonymous communication system, WonGoo is a tradeoff between anonymity and efficiency. Usually, the longer the path, the stronger the anonymity, but at the same time the heavier the overhead. WonGoo lengthens the anonymity path and reduces the overhead, providing strong anonymity and high efficiency with layered encryption and random forwarding. The purpose of this paper is to analyze its performance in detail.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper focuses on measure the performance of WonGoo system with probability theory. First, it gives a brief description of the system and evaluate its payload. Then it presents a detailed security analysis of the system.

Findings

It is shown that WonGoo can protect against (n − 1) attack and provide variable anonymity, as well as how confident the collaborators can be that their immediate predecessor is in fact the path initiator. The paper measures the anonymity degree provided by WonGoo system based on information entropy and compare it with other anonymity systems.

Practical implications

The paper is helpful for the further development of WonGoo system. In addition, the results presented in this paper will be useful for users to design other anonymity system.

Originality/value

WonGoo is a peer‐to‐peer anonymity system that provides strong anonymity and high efficiency with layered encryption and random forwarding. The paper presents a detailed analysis of its performance with probability theory and measures its anonymity degree with information theory.

Details

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-7371

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2005

João Pissarra and Jorge C. Jesuino

Brainstorming is a well‐known group process for generating new ideas and stimulating creativity. Important as well as robust findings have been achieved in determining…

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2606

Abstract

Purpose

Brainstorming is a well‐known group process for generating new ideas and stimulating creativity. Important as well as robust findings have been achieved in determining which factors contribute most to facilitating or hindering the group's ideas productivity. Research aimed at comparing face‐to‐face (FTF) with computer‐mediated communication (CMC) led to the conclusion that this latter shared with the nominal group technique the advantages of avoiding either the blocking effect or the identification of the source. More recently, attention has turned to the possible effects of group support system (GSS) in the mediating cognitive processes of generating new ideas. The present study aims to examine the effects of the type of tool and of the anonymity condition on the quality, quantity and diversity of the generated ideas, as well as on group members' satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach

Uses a 2 × 2 factorial design combining two different GSS tools (topic commenter vs EBS) with anonymity versus non‐anonymity.

Findings

It was found that anonymity generated more satisfaction among the group members. A marginal effect on satisfaction was also found to be related with the type of tools. Contrary to expectations, the EBS tool was not found to generate greater diversity of ideas. An interesting finding not anticipated was the impact of technology on the flow of ideas and on the emergence of new conceptual categories, probably due to alternative strategies of task structuring.

Research limitations/implications

The use of students as subjects, and the running of the experimental work in a scholarly context, could have contributed to the elimination of fears and to freeing the participants from any inhibition in the anonymity conditions. Within an organisational context with higher social stratification, such anonymous procedures could have significant outcomes. Future research will have to examine whether this effect is relevant to other types of topics and other populations. Another aspect that it is important to re‐examine is the effect of anonymity on the emergence of minority ideas, which could stimulate innovation.

Practical implications

The type and characteristics of tools were shown to be a decisive factor in the participants' satisfaction, in the communication process and in the idea generation and clustering processes. Although tenuous, this set of data could mean that the characteristics of the tools interfere with the cognitive mechanisms present in the brainstorming technique.

Originality/value

Examines the effect of the technology and anonymity in ideas generation within a group context on the satisfaction of the participants.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 20 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2015

Stephanie Winkler and Sherali Zeadally

The purpose of this paper is to examine the possible explanations for the slow adoption and development of online anonymity technology. The ability to remain anonymous…

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1978

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the possible explanations for the slow adoption and development of online anonymity technology. The ability to remain anonymous while engaging in different activities, online is increasingly sought after by consumers with privacy concerns. Currently, the only way to maintain online anonymity is through the use of technology. This paper reviews and analyzes the tools currently available to consumers to maintain online anonymity. There are only four tools available to consumers to ensure online anonymity: anonymous remailers, rewebbers, The Onion Router (Tor) and the Invisible Internet Project (I2P). These tools provide the protection needed for an Internet user to remain anonymous but suffer from a lack of usability and adoption.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors have selected a few specific online anonymity technologies based on the following criteria: the technology satisfies our full anonymity definition, the technology is currently available for public use and the technology has been academically researched.

Findings

Few anonymity technologies are available for public use that offer the ability for full online anonymity, and these technologies are difficult for the average computer user to operate. Further research is still needed to help determine what the average user wants to see in an anonymity technology as well as ways to help users integrate the technology into their commodity software (such as Web browsers). Future online anonymity technologies should enable the user to decide when, how and with whom their information is shared if it is shared at all with ease and simplicity.

Originality/value

The authors identify, explain and analyze publicly available online anonymity technologies in terms of their usability. The authors identified ways as to how online anonymity technology can be improved to increase public adoption. The authors make pertinent recommendations on how the design and development of online anonymity technology can be improved in the future.

Details

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-7371

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2003

Joris Claessens, Claudia Díaz, Caroline Goemans, Jos Dumortier, Bart Preneel and Joos Vandewalle

With the worldwide growth of open telecommunication networks and in particular the Internet, the privacy and security concerns of people using these networks have…

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1295

Abstract

With the worldwide growth of open telecommunication networks and in particular the Internet, the privacy and security concerns of people using these networks have increased. On the one hand, users are concerned about their privacy, and desire to anonymously access the network. On the other hand, some organizations are concerned about how this anonymous access might be abused. This paper intends to bridge these conflicting interests, and proposes a solution for revocable anonymous access to the Internet. Moreover, the paper presents some legal background and motivation for such a solution. However, the paper also indicates some difficulties and disadvantages of the proposed solution, and suggests the need for further debate on the issue of online anonymity.

Details

Internet Research, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

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Article
Publication date: 10 March 2014

Maria Knoll and Jenny Bronstein

The study aimed to investigate the information disclosure behavior of women bloggers who suffer from infertility by examining their self-disclosure as it relates to the…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aimed to investigate the information disclosure behavior of women bloggers who suffer from infertility by examining their self-disclosure as it relates to the anonymity patterns they adopted.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was distributed to approximately 300 authors of infertility blogs, 135 bloggers answered the request to take part in the study. The survey gathered basic demographic and blogging practice data, and measured different elements of the bloggers' discursive and visual anonymity as well as their patters of self-disclosure.

Findings

Findings reveal that the majority of respondents identify themselves on their blogs and only a small percentage decided to be totally anonymous, and about half of the bloggers post actual photos of themselves and their lives. The participants reported a high rate of self-disclosure, revealing sensitive information, letting their defenses down, disclosing highly intimate details about their lives, writing openly about their infertility treatments on their blog. No significant correlation was observed between visual and discursive anonymity and the perceived self-disclosure of participants. Results show that the more anonymous the bloggers are, the more afraid they become that their blog may be read by people they know offline. On the other hand, the more identifiable the bloggers are, the more willingness they show to share the content of their journal with people they know offline. The majority of participants expressed concerns that blogging could negatively impact their lives.

Originality/value

This study explores an alternate explanation through the examination of the bloggers' self-disclosure patterns as they relate to the degree of anonymity adopted.

Details

Aslib Journal of Information Management, vol. 66 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-3806

Keywords

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