A new method to audit the use of private data developed by computer scientists at Southampton University, could be used to analyse where data originated, how it is being used and to keep it secure. A prototype will be available within six months.
Luc Moreau and Rocio Aldeco-Perez at the university’s School of Electronics and Computer Science have taken the concept of provenance, which is more commonly used in the art world, to derive a tool that operates on private data.
Provenance can be applied to personal and confidential information so that an audit trail can be analysed to see where the information has come from, how it is being used and how it can be made secure.
“Provenance is a term which comes from diverse areas such as art, archaeology and palaeontology and describes the history of an object since its creation,” said Professor Moreau. “Its main focus is to establish that the object has not been forged or altered: we have found that we can now do the same audit with private data.”
Moreau says the auditing capabilities of this tool will make it possible to redesign systems so that they incorporate secure auditing strategies and therefore are more robust and trusted.