Weapons of Mass Distraction: Sock Puppetry for Fun & Profit


sock puppet: (noun) – a false online identity used for deceptive purposes

There have been many discussions online about governments making use of sock puppets on social media sites (and on the Internet in general) to sway popular opinion. Keen observers have spotted military RFP’s calling for the creation of sockpuppet-control software or recruiting groups of students to fill this space. Recent Snowden revelations reveal that GCHQ’s JTRIG has been largely dedicated to such tasks, but there has been little talk of it in information security circles. We hope to change that.

While many intuitively agree that sock puppets could be used for distraction (or mass trolling), very little can be said conclusively about such attacks, in part because they have not been widely scientifically demonstrated & measured. We hope to change that.

In this talk, we aim to briefly cover the background of sock puppets (and related attacks) before moving on to real world demonstrations & “attacks“. Rigging polls, abusing Twitter, causing Reddit riots & targeting popular news organisations are some of the (many) attacks covered. In all these cases we discuss what we tried, what worked, what didn’t and what the implications are of the attacks. Where possible we will cover defences and solutions.

So, if you are interested in a glimpse at “Censorship 2.0” or just want to learn how to troll people on Reddit, you should attend this talk.

Location: Track 1 Date: October 16, 2014 Time: 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm Haroon Meer Marco Slaviero Azhar Desai