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New Tricks, or How Malware Learned to Cheat at Poker

Jenny O'ConnellJenny O'Connell

Last week, news broke (on the ESET blog, WeLiveSecurity) of a novel piece of malware, designed to help attackers cheat at online poker. The Odlanor malware is slipped in with useful, poker-related software. Once installed on a victim’s machine, it takes screenshots of the player’s hand and delivers them to the attacker. Allowing the fraudster to join the same table as the victim and attempt to fleece them.

The original research did not determine if the game-playing element of the attack is undertaken manually, or via an automated process. On the face of it, it seems perfectly plausible that a bot could manage the poker playing. It could be programmed to act within given probabilities, especially with the advantage of peeking at opponents’ cards. Interpretation of the screenshots could be slightly fiddly, but not insurmountable. Perhaps the addition of chat functionality could also help it fly under the radar. Although we all know how unconvincing some chat bots can be, but work is certainly going on in this area (as reported recently by the BBC).

It’s interesting to see how modern technical tools are applied to old-fashioned scams. Efficiency dictates that if elements of crime can be effectively automated, they almost certainly will be. It may be some time before we see a bot successfully execute one of the romance frauds that are currently doing the rounds, although ‘Rose’ might be able to give it a good go (as reported by Sophos, Naked Security). It seems likely that a real person (or persons) posed as ‘Kirsten White’, 26 year old Californian heiress, to seduce unsuspecting men online and dupe them out of cash. Fortunately for one potential victim, his jilted fiancée did some digging and uncovered the scam (also reported by Sophos, Naked Security).

Either way, it’s worth always bearing in mind that the people you interact with online may not be who, or even what, they seem.


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Photo Credit: Slgckgc ‘Poker Chips’, used under Creative Commons license 2.0