, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 163-175
Date: 27 Nov 2012

A classification of location privacy attacks and approaches

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In recent years, location-based services have become very popular, mainly driven by the availability of modern mobile devices with integrated position sensors. Prominent examples are points of interest finders or geo-social networks such as Facebook Places, Qype, and Loopt. However, providing such services with private user positions may raise serious privacy concerns if these positions are not protected adequately. Therefore, location privacy concepts become mandatory to ensure the user’s acceptance of location-based services. Many different concepts and approaches for the protection of location privacy have been described in the literature. These approaches differ with respect to the protected information and their effectiveness against different attacks. The goal of this paper is to assess the applicability and effectiveness of location privacy approaches systematically. We first identify different protection goals, namely personal information (user identity), spatial information (user position), and temporal information (identity/position + time). Secondly, we give an overview of basic principles and existing approaches to protect these privacy goals. In a third step, we classify possible attacks. Finally, we analyze existing approaches with respect to their protection goals and their ability to resist the introduced attacks.