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On the Unicity of Smartphone Applications

Jagdish Prasad Achara 1 Gergely Acs 1 Claude Castelluccia 1 
1 PRIVATICS - Privacy Models, Architectures and Tools for the Information Society
Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, CITI - CITI Centre of Innovation in Telecommunications and Integration of services, Inria Lyon
Abstract : Prior works have shown that the list of apps installed by a user reveal a lot about user interests and behavior. These works rely on the semantics of the installed apps and show that various user traits could be learnt automatically using off-the-shelf machine-learning techniques. In this work, we focus on the re-identifiability issue and thoroughly study the unicity of smartphone apps on a dataset containing 54,893 Android users collected over a period of 7 months. Our study finds that any 4 apps installed by a user are enough (more than 95% times) for the re-identification of the user in our dataset. As the complete list of installed apps is unique for 99% of the users in our dataset, it can be easily used to track/profile the users by a service such as Twitter that has access to the whole list of installed apps of users. As our analyzed dataset is small as compared to the total population of Android users, we also study how unicity would vary with larger datasets. This work emphasizes the need of better privacy guards against collection, use and release of the list of installed apps.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 11:28:38 AM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 3:50:49 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, April 28, 2017 - 4:44:55 AM


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  • HAL Id : hal-01181040, version 2


Jagdish Prasad Achara, Gergely Acs, Claude Castelluccia. On the Unicity of Smartphone Applications. ACM CCS Workshop on Privacy in Electronic Society (WPES), Oct 2015, Denver, Colorado, USA, France. ⟨hal-01181040v2⟩



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