A Vulnerability Study on Academic Collaboration Networks Based on Network Dynamics

12/21/2020 ∙ by Asier Gutiérrez-Fandiño, et al. ∙ 0

Researchers that work for the same institution use their email as the main communication tool. Email can be one of the most fruitful attack vectors of research institutions as they also contain access to all accounts and thus to all private information. We propose an approach for analyzing in terms of security research institutions' communication networks. We first obtained institutions' communication networks as well as a method to analyze possible breaches of collected emails. We downloaded the network of 4 different research centers, three from Spain and one from Portugal. We then ran simulations of Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered (SEIR) complex network dynamics model for analyzing the vulnerability of the network. More than half of the nodes have more than one security breach, and our simulation results show that more than 90% of the networks' nodes are vulnerable. This method can be employed for enhancing security of research centers and can make email accounts' use security-aware. It may additionally open new research lines in communication security. Finally, we manifest that, due to confidentiality reasons, the sources we utilized for obtaining communication networks should not be providing the information that we were able to gather.

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