Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The advancement of Artificial Intelligence

Eliza was an early AI program that was sometimes said to act as a psychiatrist. We studied it in AI classes. How could a computer respond to questions and adapt? But it was pretty easy stuff as it just mimicked back what you said to it. I had a version of it on my Mac and played with it a bit.

Social engineering
is a technique used to gather personal information from people by cyber criminals. I first came across the term when starting at MCI in relation to people calling and getting PBX information. How to hack a companies phone system so you could use it to make long distance calls.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) "bots" are "robots" (computer programs) that join a IRC channel and then monitor it. They can be good or bad. I've run them before to record all information on a channel and write it to a file, so we can always go back and remember what was said. There is also an infobot named purl which records information as it seems it or as someone tells it, and then monitors questions so it can answer them back later. An interactive "person like" way to store information on user chat channels so that someone doesn't always have to be on and responding to user questions.

Now, in Russia, they've all been combined. Now when someone is on a singles channel (or some other channel) and someone starts flirting with them, striking up a conversation and then asking them personal information... that "person" may not really be a person. It may be a new flirtation bot built to do just that... gather personal information from a social engineering point of view. That information can then be used to steal that personal information - which can then be used in any number of cyber crime sort of ways.

We've come a long way since Eliza...

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