Facebook users accept friend requests from anyone

23 Nov

Facebook users are ripe for attack, says a research paper. The paper brings out the fact that, out of 10 Facebook users, eight people are readily happy to accept friend requests from anyone, including even bots. The paper is due to be published and discussed properly next month at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference 2011. A brief abstract is now available.

The paper was authored by four computer security researchers at the University of British Columbia. The paper warns that online social networks are unbelievably powerful and if it is used by the wrong hands, the result will be exploitation. The researchers said that they can be used to run “astroturf campaigns to spread misinformation and propaganda” by taking over a social network on a large scale.

The research and its results is almost well timed because of the Anonymous is preparing its own Facebook virus for use, while the social network is being attacked by a flood of nasty spam  last week.  The paper valuates how easy it is to infiltrate social networks using “socialbots” that control real accounts but only imitative real users . It may be easy to set up accounts like this, but it has depend upon real user to spread them, says the research.

“We operated [a] Socialbot Network on Facebook – a 750 million user [Open Social Network] – for about [eight] weeks. We collected data related to users’ behavior in response to a large-scale infiltration where socialbots were used to connect to a large number of Facebook users,” they write.

“Our results show that [social networks], such as Facebook, can be infiltrated with a success rate of up to 80 per cent, depending on users’ privacy settings, a successful infiltration can result in privacy breaches where even more users’ data are exposed when compared to a purely public access.”

Disappointingly,  the four researchers have also found that social networking security defenses such as Facebook’s immune system are “not effective enough in detecting or stopping a large-scale infiltration as it occurs”.

Source: theinquirer

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