A new study from MIT and Harvard researchers has developed a new platform to make sure that users could decide how their data are stored and shared in the cloud.
Currently, users of mobile apps and web services store personal data on remote data center servers.
These data includes photos, email addresses, social media profiles, and fitness data from wearable trackers.
One big issue of data privacy is that service companies could collect data from servers and share the data with advertisers.
Unfortunately, users usually cannot control how their data are processed and shared.
In the present study, the researchers showed a new platform called Riverbed. It could make data center servers to only use data in ways that users approve.
According to the researchers, in the new platform, a user’s browser or electric device app does not directly communicate with the cloud server.
It uses a Riverbed proxy runs on a user’s device to mediate communication.
If the service tries to upload user data to a remote service, the proxy will tag the data with a set of permissible uses for their data, called a “policy.”
In this step, the users could decide how they want their data shared and processed.
For example, they can select any number of predefined restrictions as policies.
The restrictions include “do not store my data on persistent storage”, “my data may only be shared with the x.com.”, and so on.
After that, the Riverbed assigns the uploaded data to an isolated cluster of software components. In the components, each cluster processes only data tagged with the same policies.
The researchers suggest that Riverbed could help protect users’ data privacy while keeping the advantage of cloud computing.
This may help app developers gain the trust of users better.
The study lead author is Frank Wang, a recent graduate of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
The research is presented at USENIX Networked Systems Design and Implementation conference.
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