Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Weekly Catch-Up

I had a meeting with my supervisor yesterday to discuss my progress on the literature review and progress report.

He was pleased with the outline I gave him for the structure of the report and some of the papers I've found for the review.

I intend to finish a final draft of the review by Wednesday so there's time to read over it and get suggestions before I submit it for the progress report on Friday.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Paper Review: Social Snapshots

I've just completed reading through a paper presenting a novel method for harvesting data from online social networks. While this tool is not directly related to my study, some of the information presented in the paper was very interesting.

The tool presented is a hybrid system, which uses a custom third-party add-on for Facebook with a web crawling component. The tool creates a snapshot of a users social network data for Facebook containing the following information:

  • Contact Details
  • News Feed
  • Checkins
  • Photo Tags
  • Video Tags
  • Friends
  • Likes
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Books
  • Groups
  • Profile Feed (wall)
  • Photo Album
  • Video Uploads
  • Messages
The tool can retrieve a large amount of data however it requires the target users account credentials or initial authentication token to be known. I feel this is one of the major drawbacks of the tool as to retrieve a social snapshot without the account holders knowledge would require investigators to hijack the users social network session, potentially introducing many legal implications.

While the tool itself extracts more data than what is within the scope of my study and does not perform the social network analysis I am investigating, the research and methods developed will probably be useful for my research.

Paper:
Social Snapshots: Digital Forensics for Online Social Networks
Huber, Mulazzani, Leithner, Schrittwieser, Wondracek, Weippl
DOI: 10.1145/2076732.2076748


Papers from the Journal of Network Forensics

Today I've been reading some papers from the Journal of Network Forensics. These papers discuss the growth of social networking sites and how they can be used by both criminals and investigators. These have been particularly useful in identifying the basic information I can use in my project, and how a social network analysis tool for social media would be useful for investigators.

There are also some case studies included in both of the papers where information from social networking sites were used in criminal investigations. The papers themselves seem to suggest that this information was found through manual investigation of social networking sites, opposed to using a tool to assist in the information gathering. I will be looking further into these case studies, particularly those which relate directly to the person of interests social networks, to determine how the information from the social networking site(s) was obtained and used.

The references in both of the papers I've looked at also appear to be closely related to my study area, and I will look further into them as well as looking at other papers from the Journal of Network Forensics.

At this stage I feel that my project is running relatively smoothly and on time.

Papers from the Journal of Network Forensics:

  • Social Networking Websites as Tools for Investigators, Bill Harshbarger (Volume 2, Issue 1)
  • Social Networking A Boon to Criminals, T.D. Datar and R. Mislan (Volume 2, Issue 1)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Project Plan

The following plan is an outline of the project plan developed for the Thesis Proposal submitted in April.

Project Plan Outline

    1. Background Research (April - May)
          a) Literature Review
          b) Case Studies
          c) Current Methods Evaluation

    2. Design (May - June)

          a) Algorithm Design
          b) Testing Design

    3. Development (June - August)
          a) Test Data Development (if required if unable to test on live/real data)
          b) Test Development
          c) Algorithm Development

    4. Testing (August - September)
          a) Preliminary Testing (conducted throughout the development phase)
          b) Expected Results
          c) Testing

    5. Analysis (September - October)

    6. Reporting (April - October)
          This will be conducted throughout the entire project

Project Plan Gantt Chart


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Problem Statement

The following aims for the study were developed for the project proposal:

  • To determine the current methods used in forensic computing to extract and analyse social networks from social media
  • To determine the strengths and weaknesses of these current methods
  • To develop algorithms which would be useful in forensic computing for extracting and analysing social networks
  • To measure the potential impact the developed algorithms could have on the forensic computing field

References So Far

Following is a list of the various sources found so far:

CHU, H. C., DENG, D. J. & PARK, J. H. 2011. Live Data Mining Concerning Social Networking Forensics Based on a Facebook Session Through Aggregation of Social Data. Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Journal on, 29, 1368-1376.

INTERNETWORLDSTATS.COM. 2012a. Facebook Usage and Facebook Growth Statisticsy World Geographic Regions [Online]. Internet World Stats: Miniwatts Marketing Group. Available: http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm

INTERNETWORLDSTATS.COM. 2012b. Internet Usage Statistics [Online]. Internet World Stats: Miniwatts Marketing Group. Available: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

MALLERY, J. Unknown. Computer Forensics: More Places To Look - Social Networking and Cell Phone Evidence [Online]. Available: http://www.bkd.com/docs/service/forensics-institute/computer-forensics.pdf

WIKIPEDIA. 2012. List of Social Networking Websites [Online]. Wikipedia. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites

XMT. 2012. Loco Citato [Online]. UK: XMT Partners. Available: http://www.lococitato.com/

YANG, C., LIU, N. & SAGEMAN, M. 2006. Analyzing the terrorist social networks with visualization tools. Intelligence and Security Informatics, 331-342.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A Delayed Beginning

This is the beginning of the blog for my honours project - The Use of Social Media in Forensic Computing to Analyse Social Networks.

The purpose of my project is to research the current tools and techniques available for use in the computer forensic field. Specifically, I'll be looking at those tools which use data from social media sites to analyse the social connections a specific person of interest has with other people. I'll the look at developing a tool of my own.

Due to circumstances beyond my control I am starting my blog fairly late into my project. So expect a large information dump about the work I've completed so far.