Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Engineering and Sciences

First Advisor

Marius C. Silaghi

Second Advisor

William Allen

Third Advisor

Veton Kepuska

Fourth Advisor

Philip Bernhard


In light of the tremendous development of technology in the modern world in which we live, privacy concerns are increasing, especially after the massive spread of distributed computing systems and the technologies that depend on it, whether in personal devices or public services. Hence, this research proposes refinements on the concept of privacy for enhancing the development of privacy-related strategies in distributed computing systems to address the elements of privacy. In particular, the study introduces the new concept of Privacy Appetite to describe and model the nature of the relationship between the intended disclosure of private information and gained value from it. Therefore, a structured survey study was performed utilizing a descriptive re-search methodology for three primary objectives. First, examine the hypothesis of the dynamic nature of privacy based on participants’ reactions. Second, study the participants’ preferences of whether they tend more towards hiding only the sensitive parts of their secrets (Negotiation Search Mechanisms), every single information related to the secret but the fact of its existence (Cryptography), or hiding the existence of the fact that there is a secret (Steganography) in a distributed system based setting. Third, the study investigates whether a value-based gain or loss can influence participants’ preferences for their privacy. The study involved 123 participants of different age groups, ethnicities, and employment history, where 39.8% are females, and 59.3% are males. Moreover, the analysis outcomes show that participants are diverse in their privacy preferences. However, the results record changes in their preferences based on changes in the given scenario situations with attached gain or loss values. The shift in privacy preferences by the participants proves the theory of the dynamic nature of privacy. Last but not least, the proposed concept of Privacy Appetite demonstrated its effectiveness in explaining and modeling the results in a usable fashion to develop privacy-related strategies for distributed systems. Finally, this research paper encourages the utilization and further development of the proposed concept in related studies of privacy in distributed systems to alleviate privacy concerns.