Measuring and Mitigating OAuth Access Token Abuse by Collusion Networks

ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC)

By: Shehroze Farooqi, Fareed Zafar, Nektarios Leontiadis, Zubair Shafq

Abstract

We uncover a thriving ecosystem of large-scale reputation manipulation services on Facebook that leverage the principle of collusion. Collusion networks collect OAuth access tokens from colluding members and abuse them to provide fake likes or comments to their members. We carry out a comprehensive measurement study to understand how these collusion networks exploit popular third party Facebook applications with weak security settings to retrieve OAuth access tokens. We infiltrate popular collusion networks using honeypots and identify more than one million colluding Facebook accounts by “milking” these collusion networks. We disclose our findings to Facebook and collaborate with them to implement a series of countermeasures that mitigate OAuth access token abuse without sacrificing application platform usability for third-party developers. These countermeasures remained in place until April 2017, after which Facebook implemented a set of unrelated changes in its infrastructure to counter collusion networks. We are the first to report and effectively mitigate large-scale OAuth access token abuse in the wild.