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ProProtect3: An Approach for Protecting User Profile Data from Disclosure, Tampering, and Improper Use in the Context of WebID

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (TLDKS,volume 8990)


WebID is a new identification approach of the W3C. It enables managing profile data associated to persons and services at self-defined places in the cloud. By relying on RDF vocabularies like FOAF for describing user profile data, WebID contributes to the Semantic Web vision. While access to user profiles can be controlled with existing security mechanisms, they are not designed to protect sensitive data within user profiles from unwanted retrieval, malicious manipulation, and improper use. This article analyzes the risks that affect the knowledge stored in WebID-based user profiles. It therefore describes potential attack scenarios and outlines the challenges a solution must deal with. To tackle the problem of insufficient protection, we propose ProProtect3. This approach enables identity owners (1) to create customized filters for sensitive data, (2) to verify the profile data integrity, and (3) to restrict the rights of delegatees. For evaluating the ProProtect3 approach, we integrate it into a WebID identity provider.


  • Protection
  • Linked data
  • Identity
  • WebID
  • Social web
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Integrity
  • Authentication
  • Delegation
  • Semantic web

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-662-46562-2_4
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  1. 1.

    The sequence diagram is based on the WebID authentication sequence (cf. [34]).

  2. 2.

    This common risk affects all unencrypted files hosted on third party operated servers.

  3. 3.

    N-Triples: A line-based syntax for RDF graphs,

  4. 4.

    Notation3 (N3): A readable RDF syntax,

  5. 5.

    RDF/XML syntax specification,

  6. 6.

    Besides the identity owner’s private key, a hash is the basis of the digital signature.

  7. 7.

    Turtle Terse RDF Triple Language,

  8. 8.

    In contrast to whitelisting, blacklisting data is also supported by SPARQL CONSTRUCT queries via MINUS statements.

  9. 9.

    Lines 3 and 4 create the context needed to include city and country. Address data is described via the PIM ontology,

  10. 10.

    Since we used security methods considered as safe, it is unlikely to find a collision to the hash value in a WebID URI or to create a private key from a given public key.

  11. 11.

    Only Alice, as the primary delegator, can specify the person acting on her behalf.

  12. 12.

  13. 13.

  14. 14.


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Parts of this work were supported and funded by the European Commission (project OMELETTE, contract 257635).

The authors thank Markus Ast, Falko Braune, Dominik Pretzsch and Michel Rienäcker for their first experimental results on JavaScript-based WebID certificate creation and integrity protection, which have been partially used in this work.

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Wild, S., Wiedemann, F., Heil, S., Tschudnowsky, A., Gaedke, M. (2015). ProProtect3: An Approach for Protecting User Profile Data from Disclosure, Tampering, and Improper Use in the Context of WebID. In: Hameurlain, A., Küng, J., Wagner, R., Bianchini, D., De Antonellis, V., De Virgilio, R. (eds) Transactions on Large-Scale Data- and Knowledge-Centered Systems XIX. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 8990. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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