Publishing personal content on the web is gaining increased popularity with dramatic growth in social networking websites, and availability of cheap personal domain names and hosting services. Although the Internet enables easy publishing of any content intended to be generally accessible, restricting personal content to a selected group of contacts is more difficult. Social networking websites partially enable users to restrict access to a selected group of users of the same network by explicitly creating a "friends' list." While this limited restriction supports users' privacy on those (few) selected websites, personal websites must still largely be protected manually by sharing passwords or obscure links. Our focus is the general problem of privacy-enabled web content sharing from any user-chosen web server. By leveraging the existing "circle of trust" in popular Instant Messaging (IM) networks, we propose a scheme called IM-based Privacy-Enhanced Content Sharing (IMPECS) for personal web content sharing. IMPECS enables a publishing user's personal data to be accessible only to her IM contacts. A user can put her personal web page on any web server she wants (vs. being restricted to a specific social networking website), and maintain privacy of her content without requiring site-specific passwords. Our prototype of IMPECS required only minor modifications to an IM server, and PHP scripts on a web server. The general idea behind IMPECS extends beyond IM and IM circles of trust; any equivalent scheme, (ideally) containing pre-arranged groups, could similarly be leveraged.

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17th International Conference on World Wide Web 2008, WWW'08
School of Computer Science

Mannan, M. (Mohammad), & Van Oorschot, P. (2008). Privacy-enhanced sharing of personal content on the web. Presented at the 17th International Conference on World Wide Web 2008, WWW'08. doi:10.1145/1367497.1367564