"I Saw Images I Didn’t Even Know I Had:" Understanding User Perceptions of Cloud Storage Privacy

Chris Kanich (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Abstract: Billions of people use cloud-based storage for personal files.  While many are likely aware of the extent to which they store information in the cloud, it is unclear whether users are fully aware of what they are storing online.  We recruited 30 research subjects from Craigslist to investigate how users interact with and understand the  privacy issues of cloud storage.  We studied this phenomenon through surveys, an interview, and custom software which lets users see and delete their photos  stored in the cloud.  We found that a majority of users stored private photos in the cloud that they did not intend to upload, and a large portion also chose to permanently delete some of the offending images.  We believe our study highlights a mismatch between user expectation and reality. As cloud storage is plentiful and ubiquitous, effective tools for enabling risk self-assessment are necessary to protect users' privacy.

Bio: Chris Kanich is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His goal in researching computer security is to help create a quantifiably better Internet experience for everyday users. In the past this holistic approach has motivated him to investigate the profits of cybercriminal attackers, and more recently he is focusing on the potential risks of long term digital archives, and how these risks can be characterized, minimized, and even completely prevented. He is a 2014 recipient of the NSF CAREER grant, and both the 2014 UIC College of Engineering Teaching and Research awards.