What have I been doing lately? Why the lack of posts? Well…I have been preparing for my talk at Notacon 6 called Rise of the Autobots: Into the Underground of Social Network Bots. Who are these bots and what are they here for? From my abstract:
How do you know that last friend request or Twitter follower was an actual live human being? The truth is…you don’t! Bot’s and bot manufactures have become rampant in social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter exploiting the trust relationships that make social media work. Why are bots taking control of social networks? It’s simple. Social networks are the fastest growing phenomenon of our time. For example, Facebook alone recently reached 150 million potential targets for spammers, malware authors, and other undesirables in 2008. Social networks are only getting bigger and bots will be part of this trend.
This presentation will take you on a journey into the thriving bot underground where bots are manufactured for every purpose imaginable. We will talk about good bots, bad bots, *really* evil bots, how to identify bots, terminating bots and the future possibility of social network botnets to rule them all.
This talk is the result of many months of research that I have been doing on this subject. Here are three things from my research as a teaser for my talk:
1. You will find it fascinating that bots are a huge part of social networks. Bots are not only used by the bad guys but legitimate users as well.
2. There will be discussion on why spammers are targeting social networks and how most of this bot activity falls under the guise of “Blackhat SEO“. I have been finding that there is a thin line between what constitutes “Blackhat” vs. “Whitehat” and that line will continue to blur. You will be amazed (as I was) with the business and money making model(s) that spammers and malware authors use. There is a ton of money being made from using these techniques and tools! Want an idea how much? Check out Jeremiah Grossman’s recent presentation on Blackhat SEO…you might want to quit your day job.
3. How do you use bots to create accounts? What are the most popular tools available? How about just buying hacked/bot created accounts in bulk then use these tools to SPAM friends lists? Also, as a tie in to the tools that are used we will talk about why CAPTCHA’s and other controls are not working. Finally, don’t forget about the new frontier of botnets and social networks…this is an untapped area thats only going to get more interesting.
So, if you are coming to Notacon 6 (April 16th-19th) hopefully you can stop by. I promise, my talk will be entertaining! Stay tuned to this blog…after the talk I plan on releasing detailed articles on some of the specific topics from the talk.