Future Casting Influence Capability in Online Social Networks – Fake Accounts and the Evolution of the Shadow Economy

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Authors
  1. Duncan, M.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre , Toronto ON (CAN)
Abstract
Online Social Networks (OSN) have risen to the point of dominating the daily activities of many Internet users. In response to this success, various groups have sought to exploit these apparently safe and well-populated walled gardens for their own gain. A particularly worrisome target of exploitation is the operation and control of actual accounts. It is now possible to create large numbers of fraudulent accounts with credentials of reasonable face validity. These fake accounts, also called sock-puppets or sybils, can then be used to generate various influence effects through the apparent collective action of many “individuals”. Because the behaviour of accounts affects the perception of trust and legitimacy of the OSN’s user base, sock-puppet accounts are a serious threat to an OSN’s credibility and economic success. Due in part to the efforts of OSNs to combat account fakery, a digital arms race has ensued contributing to the evolution of a technologically sophisticated economic service supply chain involving many players within the cybercriminal and shadow economy ecosystem. Some of these include malware distributors, Botnet operators, and CAPTCHA solving services for account creation and authentication; as well as individuals with expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence for automated credential generation and control of account behaviour. In its current form, the shadow economy ecosystem represents an influence capability that is open to anyone

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Keywords
sock puppet;Sybil;online social media;influence;shadow economy;underground economy;CAPTCHA;Twitter;Facebook;Google+
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2015-R148 — Scientific Report
Date of publication
01 Aug 2015
Number of Pages
33
DSTKIM No
CA041276
CANDIS No
802328
Format(s):
Electronic Document(PDF)

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