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PDGuard: an architecture for the control and secure processing of personal data

  • Dimitris MitropoulosEmail author
  • Thodoris Sotiropoulos
  • Nikos Koutsovasilis
  • Diomidis Spinellis
Regular Contribution

Abstract

Online personal data are rarely, if ever, effectively controlled by the users they concern. Worse, as demonstrated by the numerous leaks reported each week, the organizations that store and process them fail to adequately safeguard the required confidentiality. In this paper, we propose pdguard, a framework that defines prototypes and demonstrates an architecture and an implementation that address both problems. In the context of pdguard, personal data are always stored encrypted as opaque objects. Processing them can only be performed through the pdguard application programming interface (api), under data and action-specific authorizations supplied online by third party agents. Through these agents, end-users can easily and reliably authorize and audit how organizations use their personal data. A static verifier can be employed to identify accidental api misuses. Following a security by design approach, pdguard changes the problem of personal data management from the, apparently, intractable problem of supervising processes, operations, personnel, and a large software stack to that of auditing the applications that use the framework for compliance. We demonstrate the framework’s applicability through a reference implementation, by building a pdguard-based e-shop, and by integrating pdguard into the The Guardian newspaper’s website identity application.

Keywords

Personal data Software architecture Encrypted data Auditing 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Amit Levy, Panos Louridas, Thodoris Mavrikis, Theofilos Petsios, and George Argyros for their insightful comments.

Funding

This work has received funding from the eu’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 825328 and the Research Centre of the Athens University of Economics and Business, under the Original Scientific Publications framework 2019 (Project er-3074-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Availability

The source code of our framework is available as open-source software at https://github.com/AUEB-BALab/PDGuard.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management Science and TechnologyAthens University of Economics and BusinessAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Informatics and TelecommunicationsUniversity of AthensAthensGreece

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