Technology for protecting online privacy during major life changes



The technology, designed to help people manage online privacy during major life changes, is being developed in a cybersecurity study involving the University of Strathclyde.

The £ 3.4m three-year project will create three privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) to help people make significant life transitions, such as breaking up, developing a serious illness, leaving the Armed Forces or leaving the service. LBGTQ +.

Experts in cybersecurity, psychology, law, business and criminology will collaborate on a project called AP4L (Adaptive PETs to Protect & em Power People during Life Transitions). It is held at the University of Surrey, and the partners are the Universities of Chester, Edinburgh, Cambridge and the University of London, Queen Mary.

PET to be developed in the project:

  • Risky platforms that will create resilience by helping people in safe ways to explore the potentially risky interactions of life transitions with privacy settings in the digital footprint
  • Transition Guardians, which will provide real-time user protection during life transitions
  • Security bubbles that will facilitate connections by bringing together people who can help each other or who need to work together, during the transition to one person’s life, while providing additional safeguards to protect all involved.

Professor Wendy Moncourt of the Department of Computer and Information Science in Strathclyde is the University’s lead in the project. She said: “Managing online privacy is becoming more challenging. You can reveal a lot about yourself to a huge and invisible audience, unless we are experts in privacy settings and do not have free time. Many people tell us that their lives are “boring” and that they are not worried about online privacy management, however, when there are big changes in life, there are good reasons to manage online privacy.

“For those experiencing a relationship breakdown, previously enabled location sharing with a partner can lead to post-breakup harassment if privacy settings are not reviewed. For those who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, they may not want everyone to know their news. At a time when there are far more important matters, the Internet requires us to become experts in privacy settings if we want to prevent this huge and invisible audience from finding out our deeply personal information.

“It’s important to understand people’s needs and vulnerabilities so that we can develop cyber defense systems that suit them. Everyone is going through hardships in their lives, so this work is relevant to everyone. We look forward to working with the UK’s leading charities and users of their services to build that understanding. ”

Dr Karen Reno, a Strathclyde expert on human-focused security and privacy, said: “It is important that these technologies are easy to use and designed for maximum acceptability and acceptance. We will test them with a number of potential users so that they meet the goals and are not just an obstacle, but a useful tool.

Professor Jeff Ian of Strathclyde said: “The importance of the study is reflected in the range of 26 major partners involved, including law enforcement, technology companies and the UK’s leading charities”.

Professor Fiona Strans, director of the Strathclyde Security and Sustainability Research Center and a key adviser to the project, said: “The transition from military or crown service to civilian life and vice versa can be very stressful as a major transition to life. As part of this, adapting your online presence and digital footprints is difficult, but necessary – to protect national security, the safety of family and friends, and your own well-being. This is an area ready for research and innovation. “

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