Abstract–Recently, academia and law enforcement alike have shown a strong demand for data that is collected from online social networks. In this work, we present a novel method for harvesting such data from social networking websites. Our approach uses a hybrid system that is based on a custom add-on for social networks in combination with a web crawling component. The datasets that our tool collects contain profile information (user data, private messages, photos, etc.) and associated meta-data (internal timestamps and unique identifiers). These social snapshots are significant for security research and in the field of digital forensics. We implemented a prototype for Facebook and evaluated our system on a number of human volunteers. We show the feasibility and efficiency of our approach and its advantages in contrast to traditional techniques that rely on application-specific web crawling and parsing. Furthermore, we investigate different use-cases of our tool that include consensual application and the use of sniffed authentication cookies. Finally, we contribute to the research community by publishing our implementation as an open-source project.
Article on NewScientist (November 2011)
Slides from ACSAC 2011 (December 2011)
Get the source – Social Snapshot Tool – OSS Github repository