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PC Tools Issues Warning to Singles on Social Networking and Online Dating Sites: Beware of "Flirting Robots"


December 13, 2007; 05:25 AM

PC Tools today uncovered new software developed in Russia that flirts with females or males seeking relationships online in order to collect their personal data.

The software, CyberLover, can conduct fully automated flirtatious conversations with users of chat-rooms and dating sites to lure them into a set of dangerous actions such as sharing their identity or visiting web sites with malicious content.

According to its creators, CyberLover can establish a new relationship with up to ten partners in just 30 minutes and its victims cannot distinguish it from a human being.

PC Tools is concerned about the programs ability to mimic human behavior during online interactions and urges internet users to beware of this new breed of software that can easily be used for malicious purposes. The concept behind this software could be the catalyst for a dangerous new trend in malware evolution.

As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud, CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering, says Sergei Shevchenko, Senior Malware Analyst at PC Tools. It employs highly intelligent and customized dialogue to target users of social networking systems.

Internet users today are generally aware of the dangers of suspicious attachments and URLs they receive, the documents they open or the websites they visit, but CyberLover employs a new technique that is unheard of and thats what makes it particularly dangerous.

CyberLover has been designed as a bot [robot] that lures victims automatically, without human intervention. If it's spawned in multiple instances on multiple servers, the number of potential victims could be very substantial, says Shevchenko.

According to PC Tools researchers, the CyberLover software:

  • offers a variety of profiles ranging from romantic lover to sexual predator;
  • uses a series of easily configurable dialogue scenarios with pre-programmed questions and discussion topics;
  • is designed to recognize the responses of chat-room users to tailor its interaction accordingly;
  • compiles a detailed report on every person it meets and submits then to a remote source the reports contain confidential information that the victim has shared with the bot, which can include the victims name, contact details and personal photo(s);
  • invites victims to visit a personal" website or blog which could in fact be a fake page used to automatically infect visitors with malware.

Though Cyberlover is currently targeting Russian web sites, social networkers and online daters in the United States are urged to stay alert to unusual activity credited to programs like CyberLover.

To protect themselves, PC Tools recommends:

  • Never give your personal details to anyone over the internet.
  • Consider using aliases/fake names on social networking sites and when chatting online.
  • Carefully monitor the online behavior of your family members and educate them of the dangers.
  • Ensure you have up-to-date AntiVirus and Anti-Spyware installed, with real-time and behavioral protection.

PC Tools warns the security industry to prepare itself for this potential new trend of malware which uses natural language dialogue systems already deployed within gaming technologies.

NOTE TO EDITORS

Copies of screen-grabs from the cyberlover.ru website are available upon request. They demonstrate how the user interface works and are accompanied by English translations.

ABOUT PC TOOLS

PC Tools is a global software leader with a cache of security and utility products, including the multi award-winning Spyware Doctor®. PC Tools is an industry leader in real-time anti-spyware and has a number of key patents pending.

The PC Tools Malware Research Centre monitors trends and emerging spyware issues and provides security solutions for the consumer and enterprise marketplace. The company is headquartered in Sydney, with offices in San Francisco, London, Shannon (Ireland), Melbourne, Kiev, and Boulder. PC Tools has a global network of distributors, resellers, and retailers.

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