From Russia with Love

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

With some hilarity, I present: Russian computer program fakes chat room flirting.

Internet chat room romantics beware: your next chat may be with a clinical computer trying to win your personal data and not your heart, an online security firm says.I find this both hilarious on a number of levels, but it illustrates so perfectly about how valuable (as users of the interwebs) our attention data is. It’s so valuable that some smart people have written what can really only be described as a Trojan horse for attention data!

PC Tools senior malware analyst Sergei Shevchenko says the program has a “terrifyingly well-organised” interaction that could fool users into giving up personal details and could easily be converted to work in other languages. “As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud, CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering,” he said in a statement. “It employs highly intelligent and customised dialogue to target users of social networking systems.”This is not some script kiddy. Or some backyard Javascript peddler. This is some serious hardcore natural language processing prodigy who has the temerity and the wits to make a quick buck by collecting social and personal attention metrics. I can’t condone his actions; as I do find it highly immoral (and unethical) but I can definitely see why someone would do such a thing.

This also highlights the need for the general public to be more conscious and aware of their attention data, how to obtain it, how to control it and how to move it. It clearly demonstrates the value of the data we allow companies and products to collect about us with little or no hesitation. We allow these companies to collect whatever they like, without even letting us have a glimpse of what inside their walled gardens.

It’s long past due that we all stood up and asked them to open the doors.

It’s time we all started demanding Data Portability.

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