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Open AccessArticle

A Survey of Attacks Against Twitter Spam Detectors in an Adversarial Environment

Department of Computer Science, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
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Robotics 2019, 8(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8030050
Received: 10 May 2019 / Revised: 1 July 2019 / Accepted: 1 July 2019 / Published: 4 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latest Artificial Intelligence Research Output 2018)
Online Social Networks (OSNs), such as Facebook and Twitter, have become a very important part of many people’s daily lives. Unfortunately, the high popularity of these platforms makes them very attractive to spammers. Machine learning (ML) techniques have been widely used as a tool to address many cybersecurity application problems (such as spam and malware detection). However, most of the proposed approaches do not consider the presence of adversaries that target the defense mechanism itself. Adversaries can launch sophisticated attacks to undermine deployed spam detectors either during training or the prediction (test) phase. Not considering these adversarial activities at the design stage makes OSNs’ spam detectors vulnerable to a range of adversarial attacks. Thus, this paper surveys the attacks against Twitter spam detectors in an adversarial environment, and a general taxonomy of potential adversarial attacks is presented using common frameworks from the literature. Examples of adversarial activities on Twitter that were discovered after observing Arabic trending hashtags are discussed in detail. A new type of spam tweet (adversarial spam tweet), which can be used to undermine a deployed classifier, is examined. In addition, possible countermeasures that could increase the robustness of Twitter spam detectors to such attacks are investigated. View Full-Text
Keywords: Twitter spam detection; adversarial machine learning; online social networks; survey Twitter spam detection; adversarial machine learning; online social networks; survey
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Imam, N.H.; Vassilakis, V.G. A Survey of Attacks Against Twitter Spam Detectors in an Adversarial Environment. Robotics 2019, 8, 50.

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