A Two-Stage Deanonymization Attack Against Anonymized Social Networks

Date Added: Aug 2012
Format: PDF

Digital traces left by users of online social networking services, even after anonymization, are susceptible to privacy breaches. This is exacerbated by the increasing overlap in user-bases among various services. To alert fellow researchers in both the academia and the industry to the feasibility of such an attack, the authors propose an algorithm, Seed-and-Grow, to identify users from an anonymized social graph, based solely on graph structure. The algorithm first identifies a seed sub-graph, either planted by an attacker or divulged by a collusion of a small group of users, and then grows the seed larger based on the attacker's existing knowledge of the users' social relations.