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Email networks and the spread of computer viruses

Stephanie Forrest, Justin Balthrop, M. Newman
Phys. Rev. E 66, 3
ISSN 1063-651X
September 2002

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Many computer viruses spread via electronic mail, making use of computer users’ email address books as a source for email addresses of new victims. These address books form a directed social network of connections between individuals over which the virus spreads. Here we investigate empirically the structure of this network using data drawn from a large computer installation and discuss the implications of this structure for the understanding and prevention of computer virus epidemics.

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