A theoretical model for obfuscating web navigation trails

Fida Kamal Dankar, Khaled El Emam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


Information about consumer's web navigation trails are increasingly being collected, analyzed, and used to target them with advertisements. This information can be quite personal, indicating individuals' likes and dislikes, as well as current and long term needs. While the ability to effectively target advertisements helps keep many sites and services on the web available freely, this practice has also raised privacy concerns. These concerns concern multiple factors: lack of transparency by the data aggregators and lack of control by the consumers. One viable approach that individuals can take to regain control is obfuscation, whereby real user requests are masked via the injection of noisy requests. In this paper, we describe a theoretical model and design for a web browser extension that relies on a trusted third party to generate fake HTTP requests (dummies). The dummy requests are generated as k different users' profiles surfing in parallel with the actual user. The value of k can be adjusted by the user to achieve the level of obfuscation they are comfortable with.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJoint EDBT/ICDT 2013 Workshops - Proceedings
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventJoint EDBT/ICDT 2013 Workshops - Genoa, Italy
Duration: Mar 18 2013Mar 22 2013

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceJoint EDBT/ICDT 2013 Workshops


  • behavioral targeting
  • obfuscation
  • private web navigation
  • web tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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