The spy who loved me: NASA, spyware, and online romance

It used to be the case that single men and women met down the pub, at pottery classes, or at the funfair just behind the dodgems. But today, with more and more people working longer hours, many – if not finding love in the workplace – are turning to internet dating websites for romance.

Such was the case with one young woman who was contacted in November 2006 by a prospective suitor via the dating website. The woman – who happened to work for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) – was courted for some weeks by the gentleman, who claimed to be from Texas.

On November 21 2006, the man sent an email to the woman’s work address, claiming to contain his photograph. So far, so normal. An internet romance appears to be blossoming. Cupid’s bow and arrow are about to be sprung into action. Huzzah! But in this case, the email attachment was designed to spy on the recipient’s computer and the sender was not a Texan lothario but a 22-year-old cybercriminal…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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