CyberLover works by “flirting” with unsuspecting chatters, developing a “relationship” with them that leads to the victim revealing personal information, according to PC Tools, a security software company.
The information can be used to commit identity theft and other types of fraud and harm, such as directing victims to a "personal" website where they will be infected with viruses and other malware.
CyberLover's artificial intelligence engine is reportedly so good that it is extremely difficult for victims to tell the difference between the automated bot and a human chatter.
To make matters worse, it is extremely efficient — developing as many as 10 relationships within 30 minutes and compiling a report on its victims that includes their names, photographs and contact information.
"As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud, CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering," said Sergei Shevchenko, PC Tools' senior malware analyst.
The bot is configurable as well, featuring different user profiles, so that it can emulate anyone from a "romantic lover" to a "sexual predator."
While it seems that only Russian websites are being targeted by CyberLover now, PC Tools believes that CyberLover will be a worldwide problem in February.
The rise of automated artificial intelligence agents is in response to increased security, where computer users have better anti-virus software and other preventative measures that mitigate access via software and system flaws. These bots rely on victims voluntarily handing over their information instead.
Computer users are lulled into a false sense of security over the Internet’s perceived anonymity, according to PC Tools Vice President of Product Strategy Mike Greene. These users fail to realize that real-world damage can result from information that is disclosed online.
"People are used to not opening attachments or maybe not clicking on a link that shows up in their [instant messenger],” Greene 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."