Link Spamming Wikipedia for Profit
spam attack model
Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing
Other Computer Sciences
Collaborative functionality is an increasingly prevalent web technology. To encourage participation, these systems usually have low barriers-to-entry and permissive privileges. Unsurprisingly, ill-intentioned users try to leverage these characteristics for nefarious purposes. In this work, a particular abuse is examined -- link spamming -- the addition of promotional or otherwise inappropriate hyperlinks. Our analysis focuses on the "wiki" model and the collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia, in particular. A principal goal of spammers is to maximize exposure, the quantity of people who view a link. Creating and analyzing the first Wikipedia link spam corpus, we find that existing spam strategies perform quite poorly in this regard. The status quo spamming model relies on link persistence to accumulate exposures, a strategy that fails given the diligence of the Wikipedia community. Instead, we propose a model that exploits the latency inherent in human anti-spam enforcement. Statistical estimation suggests our novel model would produce significantly more link exposures than status quo techniques. More critically, the strategy could prove economically viable for perpetrators, incentivizing its exploitation. To this end, we address mitigation strategies.