Malicious software (malware) is one significant threat to Internet security. Malware is designed to harm a computer or network, and can be installed on one's machine without their consent. Attacks are often done by deceiving people into downloading malicious software that is posing as useful software. We speculated that if people had advice from a trusted source, they would be inclined to use the advice, reducing their chances of putting their computers at security risk. We designed and developed a system, Online Neighborhood Watch (ONWatch), to provide social network advice to users considering downloading software, sometimes offering alternatives when software was not trustworthy. We ran an empirical study to compare the advice coming from a trusted person to the advice coming from other more general social networks. We compared five different sources of advice in total. We did not find much evidence that the advice had a different effect based on the advisor, but the study confirmed our hypothesis that presenting alternative software will improve security.

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Keywords Computer crime, counterfeiting, crowdsourcing, internet, social computing
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Journal Canadian Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Freitas, B. (Bruna), Matrawy, A, & Biddle, R. (2016). Online Neighborhood Watch: The Impact of Social Network Advice on Software Security Decisions. Canadian Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 39(4), 322–332. doi:10.1109/CJECE.2016.2613961