Enhancing User-Centric Security in CONCORDIA

Enhancing User-Centric Security in CONCORDIA

Over the past couple of years, many problems occurred on online social media regarding privacy, identity management, and fake news. Regarding user privacy for instance, there have been numerous reports of user data being shared or sold to unauthorized third parties without the consent of the user. Furthermore, the inability of users to prove their real-word identity, or parts of it, on the Web is one of the reasons why the internet is so full of online fraud from fake accounts. Alarmingly, fake accounts are usually used to disseminate online propaganda and fake news.

Studies showed that modern online social media users increasingly rely on the trustworthiness of the information exposed to online social networks. For this reason, malicious users create fake accounts (trolls) to take advantage of the trust in online social networks by disseminating fake news, hence influencing the opinion of the public. Specifically, recent studies conducted by the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) explain that trolls disseminate fake news usually to affect the public opinion and influence the public.

To tackle this rising problem, CUT actively contributes the extensive knowledge and experience from previous projects and research to CONCORDIA. CUT aims to further analyze and perform research on these worrisome problems around identity management and authentication, personal data leakages, and fake news. Importantly, CUT leads a research related Task of CONCORDIA which focuses on three main pillars:

  1. The first pillar extends and moves beyond the state-of-the-art regarding previous research on personal information leakage detection to the ad-ecosystem and the general Web. CUT develops techniques to detect how such data flows can be blocked, without breaking the ad-ecosystem. In addition, CUT proposes and builds detection mechanisms and tools to tackle or detect such malicious activities in a timely manner.
  2. The second research interest focuses on fake accounts in online social networks and how the creation of such accounts may be prevented. CONCORDIA along with CUT develop a blockchain-based identity verification and management ecosystem, that allows users to verify their real-world identities without the need to trust a centralized authority for storing and managing their personal information. At the same time, this system allows the users to have complete control over their personal information.
  3. Last, CUT conducts research and develops innovative techniques to detect and fight fake news. Such techniques include community-based social network profile validation which is a challenging and a very crucial requirement for effective privacy protection and trust management of users in online social networks.

Overall, CONCORDIA aims to educate the people around the world about how vital personal information is. Importantly, internet and online social network users need to know how, where, and when to use and share their personal information. The creation and use of innovative and smart techniques to detect such malicious activities is not enough if the users themselves do not have the appropriate culture of safe use.

Conclusion

CONCORDIA is creating a cybersecurity competence network with leading research, technology, industrial and public competences. In addition, the project provides excellence and leadership in technology, processes and services to establish a user-centric EU-integrated cyber security ecosystem for digital sovereignty in Europe.
The Cyprus University of Technology actively participates in this project as a Task Leader and contributes the knowledge and experience to tackle the problems of online identity management, privacy within the ad-ecosystem, and fake news disinformation.

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Recent research from CUT, “Who Let The Trolls Out? Towards Understanding State-Sponsored Trolls” and “Disinformation Warfare: Understanding State-Sponsored Trolls on Twitter and Their Influence on the Web” revealed how fake accounts influence or manipulate public opinion on the Web.

(by Antonis Papasavva, Researcher NetSySci Research Laboratory)