Passive and Active Measurement

Volume 8362 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 151-162

Third-Party Identity Management Usage on the Web

  • Anna VapenAffiliated withLinköping University
  • , Niklas CarlssonAffiliated withLinköping University
  • , Anirban MahantiAffiliated withNICTA
  • , Nahid ShahmehriAffiliated withLinköping University

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Many websites utilize third-party identity management services to simplify access to their services. Given the privacy and security implications for end users, an important question is how websites select their third-party identity providers and how this impacts the characteristics of the emerging identity management landscape seen by the users. In this paper we first present a novel Selenium-based data collection methodology that identifies and captures the identity management relationships between sites and the intrinsic characteristics of the websites that form these relationships. Second, we present the first large-scale characterization of the third-party identity management landscape and the relationships that makes up this emerging landscape. As a reference point, we compare and contrast our observations with the somewhat more understood third-party content provider landscape. Interesting findings include a much higher skew towards websites selecting popular identity provider sites than is observed among content providers, with sites being more likely to form identity management relationships that have similar cultural, geographic, and general site focus. These findings are both positive and negative. For example, the high skew in usage places greater responsibility on fewer organizations that are responsible for the increased information leakage cost associated with highly aggregated personal information, but also reduces the user’s control of the access to this information.