Cybercrime is expanding to the fertile grounds of social networks and UCR engineers are fighting it.

A recent four-month experiment conducted by several UCR engineering professors and graduate students found that the application they created to detect spam and malware posts on Facebook users’ walls was highly accurate, fast and efficient.

The researchers also introduced the new term “socware” – pronounced “sock-where” – to describe a combination of “social malware,” encompassing all criminal and parasitic behavior on online social networks.

Their free application, MyPageKeeper, successfully flagged 97 percent of socware during the experiment. The researchers also found that it took an average of .0046 seconds to classify a post, which is far quicker than the 1.9 seconds it takes using the traditional approach of website crawling. MyPageKeeper’s more efficient classification also translates to lower costs, cutting expenses by up to 40 times.

Michalis Faloutsos, a professor of computer science and engineering at Bourns College of Engineering, said of the app, “This is really an arms race with hackers. ... In many ways, Facebook has replaced email and websites. Hackers are following that same path and we need new applications like MyPageKeeper to stop them.”