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Many of the activities in cyberspace, from social networking to the use of mobile apps, leave digital footprints compromising the users’ privacy.  As digital tracking technologies become more sophisticated and pervasive, there is a need to understand and quantify the users’ privacy risk. That is, what is the likelihood that users in cyberspace can be uniquely identified from their activities? The question was raised by Elza Erkip, Institute Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, in her talk ‘A Communications Perspective on Digital Privacy‘ at Digitalize in Stockholm 2022.

In her talk, she focussed on de-anonymization attacks, where publicly and privately available information about users, represented as connectivity graphs, are leveraged to compromise user identities. She modelled the de-anonymization attack as a graph-matching problem in which she had two correlated stochastic graphs, the first labelled vertices, whereas the second was unlabeled. The goal was to recover the labels of the second graph by using the correlation structure. Erkip summarized the work on de-anonymization, using tools from communications to derive guarantees and algorithms for de-anonymization attacks, thereby providing a framework for quantifying the privacy risk of users in cyberspace.

– I very much enjoyed interacting with thought leaders during Digitalize in Stockholm 2022. I am looking forward to the next edition, said Elza Erkip after her much appreciated talk.

 

Elza Erkip is an Institute Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at New York University Tandon School of Engineering. She received a B.S. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and an M.S. and PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.  Her research interests include information theory, communication theory, and wireless communications.

Dr Erkip is a member of the Science Academy of Turkey, a Fellow of the IEEE, and a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher. She received the NSF CAREER award in 2001, the IEEE Communications Society WICE Outstanding Achievement Award in 2016, the IEEE Communications Society Communication Theory Technical Committee (CTTC) Technical Achievement Award in 2018, and the IEEE Communications Society Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award in 2021. She is the 2022 Padovani Lecturer of the IEEE Information Theory Society. Her paper awards include the IEEE Communications Society Stephen O. Rice Paper Prize in 2004,  the IEEE Communications Society Award for Advances in Communication in 2013 and the IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award in 2019. She was a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society from 2012-2020, where she was the President in 2018. She was a Distinguished Lecturer at the IEEE Information Theory Society from 2013 to 2014.

Link to talk on Youtube: https://youtu.be/wMhgcE9lOko