Chat bots, rise of the cyborgs.

So, how’s this for synchronicity, or weird coincidence?
 
I was writing an article for a consumer magazine about how closely criminals follow our communiciation preferences when designing their scams, the article started like this…
 
We are steadily moving away from email as our regular means of online communication, in fact as far back as 2005, a Pew study concluded that almost half of web using teenagers preferred to keep in regular contact over instant messaging rather than email. The intervening years have of course seen the rise of the behemoth that is Facebook and the (not so) young pretender, Twitter and these integrated platforms have led in their turn to the decline of standalone instant messaging. The “next big thing” is always just around the corner. Today’s thirty-something finds it difficult to imagine a life without email; today’s teenager finds it impossible to contemplate a life of only email. Me? I still remember chalk and slates.
 

As I have said many times before, the online criminal community are very aware of social trends such as these. It is in their financial interest to stay ahead of the curve of how we communicate online. So as communication preferences have changed, so have criminal tactics.

 
While I was writing this Lenny Zeltser tweeted a link to his excellent article covering the exact same topic so I shared with him a link to an earlier blog of mine about some intriguing academic research into this selfsame subject.
 
Anyway, I finish the article and get it sent off and what happens literally minutes later? Yup, I got chatbotted from a friend’s compromised account (click to enlarge).
 

Are Friends Electric?

 
So other than being an amazing series of coincidences, it serves to underline the fact that this stuff is absolutely already being used in criminal campaigns and coming to a social network near you as soon as the credibility level can be increased.
 

The reasearch from Vienna University in my earlier blog article, coupled with the fact the most social networks offer open APIs for chat, as Lenny mentioned simply make this too attractive an attack vector to ignore.

 

By the way, please don’t visit the link in the screen shot, it’s not an IQ test.

2 thoughts on “Chat bots, rise of the cyborgs.

  1. Andrew Sarazin

    Hello Mr. Ferguson,

    this article inspirated me to work on a paper for social studies with bot networks and their influence to people.

    May I use your screenshot “are friends electric” to explain the programme of a bot? It wouldn’t be commercial, only for my prof., other students and me.

    Thank you alot,

    Andrew

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chat bots, rise of the cyborgs. » CounterMeasures -- Topsy.com

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