Advances in data mining techniques have raised growing concerns about privacy of personal information. Organizations that use their customers’ records in data mining activities are forced to take actions to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. A common practice for many organizations today is to remove the identity-reated attributes from customer records before releasing them to data miners or analysts. In this study, we investigate the effect of this practice and demonstrate that a majority of the records in a dataset can be uniquely identified even after identity related attributes are removed. We propose a data perturbation method that can be used by organizations to prevent such unique identification of individual records, while providing the data to analysts for data mining. The proposed method attempts to preserve the statistical properties of the data based on privacy protection parameters specified by the organization. We show that the problem can be solved in two phases, with a linear programming formulation in phase one (to preserve the marginal distribution), followed by a simple Bayes-based swapping procedure in phase two (to preserve the joint distribution). The proposed method is compared with a random perturbation method in classification performance on two real-world datasets. The results of the experiments indicate that it significantly outperforms the random method.
Li, Xiao-Bai and Sarkar, Sumit, "A Data Perturbation Approach to Privacy Protection in Data Mining" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 80.