Internet users looking for love online have more to worry about than just making sure the person they're chatting with is who they say they are: now they have to worry if it is human at all.
A program that can mimic online flirtation and then extract personal information from its unsuspecting conversation partners is making the rounds in Russian chat forums, according to security software firm PC Tools.
The artificial intelligence of CyberLover's automated chats is good enough that victims have a tough time distinguishing the "bot" from a real potential suitor, PC Tools said.
To make matters worse, the bot isn't even monogamous. PC Tools, a software security firm, says it can establish 10 relationships within 30 minutes, creating a report on each person it meets complete with name, contact information, and photos. The bot also can lure users onto a "personal" Web site where malware can be installed onto their computer.
Mike Greene, vice president of product strategy at PC Tools, explains why this is such an effective ploy:
"People are used to not opening attachments or maybe not clicking on a link that shows up in their IM," he said. "But this emulates a real conversation, so you more are likely to give over personal information, click on a link or send your photograph."
Those looking to short circuit the bot's ability to steal their personal information should never give out their personal details and should always chat using an online alias, says PC Tools.