Microblogging services such as Twitter, Sina Weibo, and Tumblr have been emerging and deeply embedded into people's daily lives. Used by hundreds of millions of users to connect the people worldwide and share and access information in real-time, the microblogging service has also became the target of malicious attackers due to its massive user engagement and structural openness. Although existed, little is still known in the community about new types of vulnerabilities in current microblogging services which could be leveraged by the intelligence-evolving attackers, and more importantly, the corresponding defenses that could prevent both the users and the microblogging service providers from being attacked. This dissertation aims to uncover a number of challenging security and privacy issues in microblogging services and also propose corresponding defenses.
This dissertation makes fivefold contributions. The first part presents the social botnet, a group of collaborative social bots under the control of a single botmaster, demonstrate the effectiveness and advantages of exploiting a social botnet for spam distribution and digital-influence manipulation, and propose the corresponding countermeasures and evaluate their effectiveness. Inspired by Pagerank, the second part describes TrueTop, the first sybil-resilient system to find the top-K influential users in microblogging services with very accurate results and strong resilience to sybil attacks. TrueTop has been implemented to handle millions of nodes and 100 times more edges on commodity computers. The third and fourth part demonstrate that microblogging systems' structural openness and users' carelessness could disclose the later's sensitive information such as home city and age. LocInfer, a novel and lightweight system, is presented to uncover the majority of the users in any metropolitan area; the dissertation also proposes MAIF, a novel machine learning framework that leverages public content and interaction information in microblogging services to infer users' hidden ages. Finally, the dissertation proposes the first privacy-preserving social media publishing framework to let the microblogging service providers publish their data to any third-party without disclosing users' privacy and meanwhile meeting the data's commercial utilities. This dissertation sheds the light on the state-of-the-art security and privacy issues in the microblogging services.