CatchSync: Catching Synchronized Behavior in Large Directed Graphs

author: Meng Jiang, Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University
published: Oct. 7, 2014,   recorded: August 2014,   views: 2705


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Given a directed graph of millions of nodes, how can we automatically spot anomalous, suspicious nodes, judging only from their connectivity patterns? Suspicious graph patterns show up in many applications, from Twitter users who buy fake followers, manipulating the social network, to botnet members performing distributed denial of service attacks, disturbing the network traffic graph. We propose a fast and effective method, CatchSync, which exploits two of the tell-tale signs left in graphs by fraudsters: (a) synchronized behavior: suspicious nodes have extremely similar behavior pattern, because they are often required to perform some task together (such as follow the same user); and (b) rare behavior: their connectivity patterns are very different from the majority. We introduce novel measures to quantify both concepts ("synchronicity" and "normality") and we propose a parameter-free algorithm that works on the resulting synchronicity-normality plots. Thanks to careful design, CatchSync has the following desirable properties: (a) it is scalable to large datasets, being linear on the graph size; (b) it is parameter free; and (c) it is side-information-oblivious: it can operate using only the topology, without needing labeled data, nor timing information, etc., while still capable of using side information, if available. We applied CatchSync on two large, real datasets 1-billion-edge Twitter social graph and 3-billion-edge Tencent Weibo social graph, and several synthetic ones; CatchSync consistently outperforms existing competitors, both in detection accuracy by 36% on Twitter and 20% on Tencent Weibo, as well as in speed.

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