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Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE C 1998 Vol.-1 No.-1 P.

http://doi.org/10.1631/FITEE.2300068


Towards Understanding Bogus Traffic Service in Online Social Networks


Author(s):  Ping HE, Xu-hong ZHANG, Chang-ting LIN, Ting WANG, Shou-ling JI

Affiliation(s):  College of Computer Science and Technology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China; more

Corresponding email(s): 

Key Words:  Online Social Networks, Measurement, Bogus Traffic, Black Market


Ping HE, Xu-hong ZHANG, Chang-ting LIN, Ting WANG, Shou-ling JI. Towards Understanding Bogus Traffic Service in Online Social Networks[J]. Frontiers of Information Technology & Electronic Engineering, 1998, -1(-1): .

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Abstract: 
The critical functionality and huge influence of the hot trend/topic page (HTP) in microblogging sites have driven the creation of a new kind of underground service called the bogus Traffic service (BTS). The BTS offers to help malicious customers who want to guide public opinion inorganically push topics into HTP. To hijack HTP, the agents of BTS maintain an army of black-market accounts called bogus Traffic accounts (BTAs), which they control to generate a burst of fake traffic by massively retweeting the tweets containing the customer desired topic (hashtag). Although this service has been extensively exploited by malicious customers, little has been done to understand it. In this paper, we conducted a systematic measurement study of the BTS. We first investigated and collected 125 BTS agents from a variety of sources and set up a honey pot account to capture the BTAs from these agents. We then built a BTA detector that detected 162,218 BTAs from Weibo, the largest Chinese microblogging site, with a precision of 94.5%. We further used them as a bridge to uncover 296,916 topics that might be involved in bogus Traffic. Finally, we uncovered the operating mechanism from the perspective of the attack cycle and the attack entity (BTAs). The highlights of our findings include the temporal attack patterns and intelligent evasion tactics of the BTAs. These findings bring BTS into the spotlight. Our work will help in understanding and ultimately eliminating this threat.

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