World Wide Web

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 749–766 | Cite as

K-core-based attack to the internet: Is it more malicious than degree-based attack?

  • Jichang Zhao
  • Junjie Wu
  • Mingming Chen
  • Zhiwen Fang
  • Xu Zhang
  • Ke Xu


K-core (k-shell) is an interesting measure that discriminates the core and fringe nodes in a complex network. Recent studies have revealed that some nodes of high k-core values may play a vital role in information diffusion. As a result, one may expect that attacking the nodes of high k-core values preferentially will collapse the Internet easily. To our surprise, however, the experiments on two Internet AS-level topologies show that: Although a k-core-based attack is feasible in reality, it is actually less effective than the classic degree-based attack. Indeed, as indicated by the measure normalized susceptibility, we need to remove 2 % to 3 % more nodes in a k-core-based attack in order to collapse the networks. Further investigation on the nodes in a same shell discloses that these nodes often have drastically varying degrees, among which are the nodes of high k-core values but low degrees. These nodes cannot lead to sufficient link deletions in the early stage of a k-core-based attack, and therefore make it less malicious than a degree-based attack. Finally, a strategy called “ELL” is employed for the Internet enhancement. Experiments demonstrate that “ELL” can greatly improve the Internet robustness at very small costs.


Robustness K-core index Malicious attack AS-level internet 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Software Development EnvironmentBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Beijing Key Laboratory of Emergency Support Simulation Technologies for City Operations, School of Economics and ManagementBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of ChinaBeijingChina

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