Another year, another Usenix Security Symposium. Like last year, I'll be presenting a paper at FOCI (Free and Open Communications on the Internet) entitled: Five incidents, one theme: Twitter spam as a weapon to drown voices of protest:
Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have become an impressive force in the modern world with user bases larger than many individual countries. With such influence, they have become important in the process of worldwide politics. Those seeking to be elected often use social networking accounts to promote their agendas while those opposing them may seek to either counter those views or drown them in a sea of noise. Building on previous work that analyzed a Russian event where Twitter spam was used as a vehicle to suppress political speech, we inspect five political events from 2011 and 2012: two related to China and one each from Syria, Russia, and Mexico. Each of these events revolved around popular Twitter hashtags which were inundated with spam tweets intended to overwhelm the original content.
We find that the nature of spam varies sufficiently across incidents such that generalizations are hard to draw. Also, spammers are evolving to mimic human activity closely. However, a common theme across all incidents was that the accounts used to send spam were registered in blocks and had automatically generated usernames. Our findings can be used to guide defense mechanisms to counter political spam on social networks.
You can download the paper and slides here:
The rest of my research can be found here: Researchread more...
I gave a presentation about research that I'm just starting out studying DNS-based censorship in specific around the world. In particularly, preliminary findings in China have confirmed that the Great Firewall is responding via packet injection to many queries for either Facebook or Twitter (among others). Interestingly, the pool of IPs that they return is consistent yet none of the IPs seem to resolve to anything interesting. In addition, there is fallout in South Korea where some percentage of packets go through China and thus have the same behaviors.
Here are the slides: slidesread more...
For the next week or so, I'll be in Seattle attending the Usenix Security Symposium and specifically the FOCI workshop. Why? Because I'm presenting a paper at FOCI.
Entitled Inferring Mechanics of Web Censorship Around the World, here's the abstract:
While mechanics of Web censorship in China are well studied, those of other countries are less understood. Through a combination of personal contacts and Planet-Lab nodes, we conduct experiments to explore the mechanics of Web censorship in 11 countries around the world, including China. Our work provides insights into the diversity of modus operandi of censors around the world and can guide future work on censorship evasion.
You can download a PDF of the paper here and a copy of the slides here.
With this, I've finally gotten around to making a website for any/all publications that I've had a part in which you can find at http://research.jverkamp.com. There are links there both to full version of this paper and to all of the other research papers that I've written over the years. Looking back, it's quite a strange combination. I guess that's what I get for being a bit interested in everything.read more...
Co-authors: Parag Malshe, Minaxi Gupta, and Chris Dunn
Abstract: Popular botnets earn millions of dollars for their operators by enabling many types of cyberfraud activities, including spam and phishing. Current and past botnet architectures revolve around the idea of bots communicating with their masters to carry out their functionality. Given that many take-down eorts leverage this feature, future botnet architectures may evolve to overcome this limitation. In order to enable pro-active defenses against such botnets, in this paper we design a botnet whose bots never explicitly communicate with their master. Our design leverages the popularity of social networks and the hidden nature of steganography. In our prototype implementation of an information stealing bot, the bot hides stolen information in the prole picture of Facebook user(s) on infected machines through the use of steganography. The stolen information is uploaded when a user visits Facebook thus hiding its tracks. Subsequently, it joins a carefully selected Facebook group to indicate the availability of information to the botmaster. The botmaster polls relevant groups like any other Facebook user to identify prole pictures of new group members that may contain stolen information. Neither Facebook nor the machine's user(s) can easily identify bot tra c. Further, since bots never directly communicate with their master, capturing a bot will reveal nothing about the whereabouts of the master.read more...
Abstract: AudioVision is designed to take a visual representation of the world--inthe form form of one or more video feeds--and convert it into a related stereophonic audio representation. With such a representation, it should be possible for someone who has minimal or no use of their visual system to avoid obstacles using their sense of hearing rather than vision. To this end, several different vision algorithms, including single and multiple image disparity, disparity from motion, and optical flow were investigated. In addition two different methods of mapping the resulting disparity map to stereophonic audio--maximal poiints and sonar scan--were implemented. The results are rather promising. Using Lucas-Kanade optical flow and sonar scan audio has fulfilled the aforementioned goals in simple tests.
If you'd like to read the full paper you can do so here: AudioVision: A Stereophonic Analogue to Visual Systems
There's also an early set of slides on the same topic from my time at Rose-Hulman: AudioVision slidesread more...