Protecting location privacy against location-dependent attacks in mobile services

Xiao Pan*, Jianliang Xu, Xiaofeng Meng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

199 Citations (Scopus)


Privacy protection has recently received considerable attention in location-based services. A large number of location cloaking algorithms have been proposed for protecting the location privacy of mobile users. In this paper, we consider the scenario where different location-based query requests are continuously issued by mobile users while they are moving. We show that most of the existing k-anonymity location cloaking algorithms are concerned with snapshot user locations only and cannot effectively prevent location-dependent attacks when users' locations are continuously updated. Therefore, adopting both the location k-anonymity and cloaking granularity as privacy metrics, we propose a new incremental clique-based cloaking algorithm, called ICliqueCloak, to defend against location-dependent attacks. The main idea is to incrementally maintain maximal cliques needed for location cloaking in an undirected graph that takes into consideration the effect of continuous location updates. Thus, a qualified clique can be quickly identified and used to generate the cloaked region when a new request arrives. The efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed ICliqueCloak algorithm are validated by a series of carefully designed experiments. The experimental results also show that the price paid for defending against location-dependent attacks is small.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5765959
Pages (from-to)1506-1519
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Location privacy
  • location-based services
  • mobile data management


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