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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Malware Wants Your Life, Not Your Passwords

A research paper published this week should serve as a wake-up call to those who are particularly fond of social networking sites and therefore make ideal candidates for a new breed of malware that in practice resembles something close to a black-market customer relationship management (CRM) system in reverse.  Titled “Stealing Reality,” the paper was written and researched by academics and communications experts at MIT, Ben Gurion University and Deutsche Telekom Laboratories and uses complex mathematical formulas to demonstrate just how effective a stealth malware attack targeting Internet users’ behavior and communication patterns could be if practitioners were—- or already are—- willing to be patient and unobtrusive.

“These patterns are affected by many factors of relationship and context, and could be used in reverse—- to infer the relationship and context.”  The more involved the individual is in the “digital” community, the more valuable his or her information pattern becomes.

And because this illegal version of what amounts to a blackhat social CRM database doesn’t cause a computer or mobile device to crash or result in the immediate loss of an antivirus application or the theft of money from a bank account or a gift card, the surveillance would theoretically go unnoticed and therefore garner even more valuable and meaningful behavioral information as time passes.  For starters, it would the kind of detailed information that advertisers, marketers and spammers would love to get their hands on but for now have to be content with mass, barnstorming-type email campaigns to accomplish.

Posted on 10/13