Evaluating Attack Amplification in Online Social Networks

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Executive Summary

Many online social networking websites allow arbitrary Web users to easily add popular users, such as famous celebrities and musicians, into their circle of friends. Such popular users, or "Hubs," have a large number of connections in the social network. However, most online social networks treat such hubs in much the same way as they do ordinary users in terms of security and privacy. In this paper, the authors experimentally demonstrate the dangers of not differentiating between hubs and ordinary users. In particular, they show how malicious social network users can leverage their connections with hubs to amplify misdeeds, such as small-scale DDoS attacks and botnet command and control.

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