Spambot detection in online social networks is a long-lasting challenge involving the study and design of detection techniques capable of efficiently identifying ever-evolving spammers. Recently, a new wave of social spambots has emerged, with advanced human-like characteristics that allow them to go undetected even by current state-of-the-art algorithms. In this paper, we show that efficient spambots detection can be achieved via an in-depth analysis of their collective behaviors exploiting the digital DNA technique for modeling the behaviors of social network users. Inspired by its biological counterpart, in the digital DNA representation the behavioral lifetime of a digital account is encoded in a sequence of characters. Then, we define a similarity measure for such digital DNA sequences. We build upon digital DNA and the similarity between groups of users to characterize both genuine accounts and spambots. Leveraging such characterization, we design the Social Fingerprinting technique, which is able to discriminate among spambots and genuine accounts in both a supervised and an unsupervised fashion. We finally evaluate the effectiveness of Social Fingerprinting and we compare it with three state-of-the-art detection algorithms. Among the peculiarities of our approach is the possibility to apply off-the-shelf DNA analysis techniques to study online users behaviors and to efficiently rely on a limited number of lightweight account characteristics.
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
- Spambot detection
- Social bots
- Online social networks
- Behavioral modeling
- Digital DNA