Measuring and Combatting Spam on Social Networks

Status: Ongoing

As spam becomes prevalent on social networks, we study the techniques and characteristics of spam to build better defenses. In our initial study, we found that existing defenses designed to prevent email spam have little success at preventing social network spam, making a detailed study of spam characteristics a necessity. This project encompasses both the measurement and understanding of spam as well as the development of defenses suitable for deployment at large scale by social networks.


  • @spam: The Underground on 140 Characters or Less. Chris Grier, Kurt Thomas, Vern Paxson, and Michael Zhang. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, October 2010. [pdf]
  • Detecting and Analyzing Automated Activity on Twitter. C. M. Zhang and V. Paxson. Proceedings of Passive and Active Measurement, March 2011. [pdf]
  • Design and Evaluation of a Real-Time URL Spam Filtering Service. Kurt Thomas, Chris Grier, Justin Ma, Vern Paxson, Dawn Song. Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, May 2011. [pdf]
  • Suspended Accounts in Retrospect: An Analysis of Twitter Spam. Kurt Thomas, Chris Grier, Vern Paxson, and Dawn Song. Proceedings of the Internet Measurement Conference, November 2011.
  • Adapting Social Spam Infrastructure for Political Censorship. Kurt Thomas, Chris Grier, and Vern Paxson. Proceedings of the USENIX Workshop on Large-Scale Exploits and Emergent Threats (LEET). April 2012.

Project members

Collaboration with

Security Lab
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About UC Berkeley Security

UC Berkeley computer security research is at the forefront of areas ranging from secure voting, botnets, web security, cryptography, privacy, network security, and software security. Our supportive faculty and diverse students create a highly collaborative environment.


Research Centers and Collaborations


A few of our current projects are listed below. More projects are listed here.

Berkeley Security Seminar

The Berkeley Security Seminar brings in external researchers and engineers for technical talks on a large-scale security or privacy project they work on. See the current schedule. Contact Grant Ho (grantho@cs) if you work on large-scale security or privacy problems and would like to give a talk.

Reading Group

The Security Reading Group meets weekly to discuss interesting papers. See the current schedule. Contact Frank Li (frankli@cs) if you are interested in presenting.

Past Courses

Undergraduate courses

Graduate courses

  • CS 261. Security in Computer Systems. [ f12, s12, s11, f09, f08, f07, f04]
  • CS 261n (formerly 294-28). Internet/Network Security. [s12, f10, f09, s09, s08]
  • CS 276. Cryptography. [s09, s06, s04, s02]
  • CS 294-24. Privacy and Security Enhancing Technologies. [f07]
  • CS 294-50. Advanced Topics in Computer Security. [s10]
  • CS 294-65. Privacy Technologies: From Theory to Practice. [s11]
Additional information can be found in the EECS course directory.
Postdocs and Research Scientists