Purdue University Graduate School
dissertation.pdf (5.74 MB)

Privacy Preserving in Online Social Network Data Sharing and Publication

Download (5.74 MB)
posted on 2019-10-17, 14:04 authored by Tianchong GaoTianchong Gao

Following the trend of online data sharing and publishing, researchers raise their concerns about the privacy problem. Online Social Networks (OSNs), for example, often contain sensitive information about individuals. Therefore, anonymizing network data before releasing it becomes an important issue. This dissertation studies the privacy preservation problem from the perspectives of both attackers and defenders.

To defenders, preserving the private information while keeping the utility of the published OSN is essential in data anonymization. At one extreme, the final data equals the original one, which contains all the useful information but has no privacy protection. At the other extreme, the final data is random, which has the best privacy protection but is useless to the third parties. Hence, the defenders aim to explore multiple potential methods to strike a desirable tradeoff between privacy and utility in the published data. This dissertation draws on the very fundamental problem, the definition of utility and privacy. It draws on the design of the privacy criterion, the graph abstraction model, the utility method, and the anonymization method to further address the balance between utility and privacy.

To attackers, extracting meaningful information from the collected data is essential in data de-anonymization. De-anonymization mechanisms utilize the similarities between attackers’ prior knowledge and published data to catch the targets. This dissertation focuses on the problems that the published data is periodic, anonymized, and does not cover the target persons. There are two thrusts in studying the de-anonymization attacks: the design of seed mapping method and the innovation of generating-based attack method. To conclude, this dissertation studies the online data privacy problem from both defenders’ and attackers’ point of view and introduces privacy and utility enhancement mechanisms in different novel angles.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xiaojun Lin

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Stanley Yung-Ping Chien

Additional Committee Member 2

Feng Li

Additional Committee Member 3

Edward J. Delp

Additional Committee Member 4

Jianghai Hu