Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

6/2/2016
11:50 AM
Gadi Evron
Gadi Evron
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

How Facebook Raises A Generation Of Intelligence Analysts

In the process of creating and administering groups, users learn how to read data points, create a risk profile in their head, and watch for changes over time.

In any profession, and in security specifically, it is the understanding and “nature” of the professional which is the most difficult to develop. Knowledge gaps can always be closed, but this unnamed “grit” sometimes seems untrainable.

When Facebook created Groups it encountered challenges every such system has encountered in the past, such as spam and spam bots. Facebook is highly active and capable in countering these, but they also enlisted the help of its users by empowering them to make decisions on their own.

A Group administrator faces the decision of whom to allow to join their Group, daily. Over time, Facebook started displaying some parameters which make the decision much easier. Aside from showing the name of the person (with a link to their profile, so that you can examine it), it added immediately observable parameters, which make the decision of triage much easier.

Image Source: Gadi Evron
Image Source: Gadi Evron

Mutual friends and friends in Group

If the person already has mutual friends with you, it is much easier for you to estimate they are a real user. You could even go and ask about them, although the very point of these parameters is to allow you to make a less time consuming decision. Friends in Group is similar, and unless your group has entirely been taken over by spam bots (which give each other social proof and make this parameter useless) it shows they are potentially relevant to, for example, the topic of discussion.

Time on Facebook and Group Membership

Facebook also shows you when the profile was created. It used to be that if a profile is older than a month, it was fine. Nowadays, younger than a year is a red flag. The other parameter, “Member of” displays how many groups the user is a member of. The current effective rule of thumb for this parameter to contribute to our risk profile is if the user is a member of too few groups, or too many. It isn’t reliable by itself though.

Clickable

If you can afford to delay the decision and wait a couple of days before approving a new user to join your group, you provide Facebook time for its other anti-fraud systems to identify that the account is phony. Others already reported the abuser as a fake account. The name appears in black instead of a clickable blue, leading to their profile.

This system for filtering new member requests is pretty neat, but the reason I like it is not because of how it counters fake profiles and spammers, but because of how it trains a multitude of Facebook users on how to read data points, create a risk profile in their heads, watch for changes over time, and make a decision to protect themselves and their group.

Thus, a group admin and often even group members effectively become security intelligence analysts, such as someone working in anti-fraud, and develop the understanding, feel, or “grit” on how to make informed security decisions, which is great training as analysts-to-be. Hopefully, it also lets them make better security decisions for their own daily digital lives.

Related Content:

 

Gadi is CEO and founder of Cymmetria, a cyber deception startup and chairman of the Israeli CERT. Previously, he was vice president of cybersecurity strategy for Kaspersky Lab and led PwC's Cyber Security Center of Excellence, located in Israel. He is widely recognized for ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9351
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. If an unauthenticated attacker makes a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp or /isomorphic/IDACall with malformed XML data in the _transaction parameter, the server replies with a verbose error showing where the application resides (the a...
CVE-2020-9352
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. Unauthenticated exploitation of blind XXE can occur in the downloadWSDL feature by sending a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp with a valid payload in the _transaction parameter.
CVE-2020-9353
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) loadFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL is affected by unauthenticated Local File Inclusion via directory-traversal sequences in the elem XML ...
CVE-2020-9354
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) saveFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL allows an unauthenticated attacker to overwrite files via vectors involving an XML comment and /.. pat...
CVE-2020-9355
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
danfruehauf NetworkManager-ssh before 1.2.11 allows privilege escalation because extra options are mishandled.