Countermeasures for social network attacks

Countermeasures for social network attacks

Even as Facebook moves to improve and simplify privacy options for the social network’s 750 million users, a group of independent researchers is proposing even greater security measures, specifically for those social networks that place control and responsibility squarely in the hands of users.

The researchers presented their findings at the ACM Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in San Diego. They’ve created an index that lets users determine how vulnerable their Facebook friends are to the myriad of attacks occurring on social networks and plan to develop an app based on their research.

The researchers looked at two million Facebook users and assigned a vulnerability index to each account based not only on the individual’s behavior and privacy settings but those of their friends as well. The upshot is that an individual’s privacy is only as secure as the weakest link (person) in that person’s network of friends.

“The solution,” says Pritam Gundecha, a doctoral student in computer science at Arizona State University and one of the authors of the study, “is to unfriend those with questionable behaviors or friends who have not set their privacy controls to acceptable levels.”

“If you don’t wish to unfriend someone, you can make them aware of their vulnerabilities and to ask them to address them,” says Gundecha, whose studies focus on social media security.

Professor Huan Liu of the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at ASU and other researchers hope to develop a Facebook application that will let users see the privacy attributes of their friends.

“The work is based on a relatively simple mathematical model that uses public information,” says Gundecha.

Some types of malicious activities occurring on social networks:

  • Scams
  • Stalking
  • Malware
  • Malicious scripts
  • Hacked accounts
  • Malicious tagging
  • Hacking into anonymous data to extract  personal user information
  • Phishing
  • Impostors
  • Sybil attacks that involve the creation of false IDs to carry out malicious activities
  • Spamming
  • Clickjacking
  • Cyberbullying

One Response to Countermeasures for social network attacks

  • Steven Shaffer

    What I believe may be necessary in the future is a system that allows one and/or many users to “vouch” for others. A means of judging trustworthiness is it were, but on a constantly updated basis. For instance via a social media platform. Each transaction by users would require “vouching” by others.

    The size/importance/risk of the transaction would dictate the amount of “vouching” needed before one party will enter into the transaction with another.

    For each successful transaction users scores goes up. Their need for “vouches” goes down, and their power to vouch for other users gains. Algorithms might feature heavily.

    User A – User B has contacted you and offered a transaction. Will you consider? User A -Check User B’s score. User A decides to proceed, entering an intermediary step. “Consideration”.

    Next, User A, assign a weight/risk/importance to the transaction. User B must now ask other users to vouch for him. The vouch score needed by User B is commensurate with the transaction weight/risk/importance demanded by User A to complete the transaction.

    Perhaps this system already exists?