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How users tweet about a cyber attack: An explorative study using machine learning and social network analysis

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Cybercrime is a growing threat for firms and customers that emerged with the digitization of business. However, research shows that even though people claim that they are concerned about their privacy online, they do not act correspondingly. This study investigates how prevalent security issues are during a cyber attack among Twitter users. The case under examination is the security breach at the US ticket sales company, Ticketfly, that compromised the information of 26 million users. Tweets related to cybersecurity are detected through the application of automated text classification based on supervised machine learning with support vector machines. Subsequently, the users that wrote security-related tweets are grouped into communities through a social network analysis. The results of this multi-method study show that users concerned about security issues are mostly part of expert communities with already superior knowledge about cybersecurity.
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Keywords: Twitter; cybercrime; cybersecurity awareness; data breach; machine learning; social network analysis; text classification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000419370650University of Zurich 2: 0000000121769917Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Publication date: June 1, 2020

This article was made available online on May 13, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "How users tweet about a cyber attack: An explorative study using machine learning and social network analysis".

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  • The Journal of Digital Media and Policy (formerly known as International Journal of Digital Television) aims to analyse and explain the socio-cultural, political, economic and technological questions surrounding digital media and address the policy issues facing regulators globally. This double-blind-peer-reviewed journal brings together and shares the work of academics, policy-makers and practitioners, offering lessons from one another's experience. Content is broad and varied, ranging from a mixture of critical work on technology, industry and regulatory convergence, to the emerging wider socio-cultural and political questions such as the application of online networks, the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things. We intend to examine critically emerging wider questions such as the role of 'digital citizens', the regulatory environment for the new platform industry and the role of state regulation in an increasingly global media industry.
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