Link Privacy in Social Networks

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CitationInternational Conference on Data Engineering, 2008
AuthorsAleksandra Korolova
Rajeev Motwani
Shubha U. Nabar
Ying Xu


We consider a privacy threat to a social network in which the goal of an attacker is to obtain knowledge of a significant fraction of the links in the network. We formalize the typical social network interface and the information about links that it provides to its users in terms of lookahead. We consider a particular threat in which an attacker subverts user accounts to gain information about local neighborhoods in the network and pieces them together in order to build a global picture. We analyze, both experimentally and theoretically, the number of user accounts an attacker would need to subvert for a successful attack, as a function of his strategy for choosing users whose accounts to subvert and a function of the lookahead provided by the network. We conclude that such an attack is feasible in practice, and thus any social network that wishes to protect the link privacy of its users should take great care in choosing the lookahead of its interface, limiting it to 1 or 2, whenever possible.

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