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Socialbots Used By Researchers to 'steal' Facebook Data

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Credit: Facebook

University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers were able to collect 46,500 email addresses and 14,500 home addresses from Facebook by using socialbots.

Socialbots are a social networking adaptation of botnets that criminals can use to send out spam. The malware takes control of a social networking profile and performs basic activities such as posting messages and sending requests. Over the course of eight weeks, the UBC team used 102 socialbots and one botmaster to attempt to make friends with 8,570 Facebook users, and 3,055 accepted the friendships. Facebook users with the most friends were more likely to accept a socialbot as a friend.

The team had the socialbots send only 25 requests a day to keep from triggering Facebook's fraud detection software.

"As socialbots infiltrate a targeted online social network, they can further harvest private users' data, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data that have monetary value," the researchers say.

From BBC News
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