Researchers demonstrate attack that dupes victims in online chats
French researchers have developed an automated social engineering tool that uses a man-in-the middle attack and strikes up online conversations with potential victims.
The proof-of-concept HoneyBot poses convincingly as a real human in Internet Relay Chats (IRC) and instant messaging sessions. It lets an attacker glean personal and other valuable information from victims via these chats, or lure them into clicking on malicious links. And the researchers had plenty of success in their tests: They were able to get users to click onto malicious links sent via their chat messages 76 percent of the time.
The researchers who created the PoC — Tobias Lauinger, Veikko Pankakoski, Davide Balzarotti, and Engin Kirda, all of Institut EURECOM in France — are also working on taking their creation a step further to automate social engineering attacks on social networks.
"By automatically crawling and correlating the information users store in social networks, we are able to collect detailed personal information about each user, which we use for automated profiling," Kirda says. "Having access to such information would allow an attacker to launch sophisticated, targeted attacks or to improve the efficiency of spam campaigns."
The researchers originally wrote their so-called HoneyBot PoC tool as a way to demonstrate large-scale automated social engineering attacks.