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This paper presents MobiMix, a road network based mix-zone framework to protect location privacy of mobile users traveling on road networks. In contrast to spatial cloaking based location privacy protection, the approach in MobiMix is to break the continuity of location exposure by using mix-zones, where no applications can trace user movement. This paper makes two original contributions. First, we provide the formal analysis on the vulnerabilities of directly applying theoretical rectangle mix-zones to road networks in terms of anonymization effectiveness and attack resilience. We argue that effective mix-zones should be constructed and placed by carefully taking into consideration of multiple factors, such as the geometry of the zones, the statistical behavior of the user population, the spatial constraints on movement patterns of the users, and the temporal and spatial resolution of the location exposure. Second, we develop a suite of road network mix-zone construction methods that provide higher level of attack resilience and yield a specified lower-bound on the level of anonymity. We evaluate the MobiMix approach through extensive experiments conducted on traces produced by GTMobiSim on different scales of geographic maps. Our experiments show that MobiMix offers high level of anonymity and high level of resilience to attacks compared to existing mix-zone approaches.
Date of Conference: 11-16 April 2011