Sophos Reveals Protection through Distraction, a New Means of Protecting Important Data
Article by George Norman
On 01 Apr 2010
A new means of protecting important data from hackers has been unveiled by Sophos, company that specializes in providing antivirus, anti-spam, spyware removal software, network and internet security, data protection, and computer security solutions. According to extensive research conducted by Sophos, romantic fiction distracts hackers from data theft and thus offers protection to sensitive information.

Sophos calls this “Protection through Distraction.” The next versions of Sophos’ security software solutions will include the “Protection through Distraction” technology and will provide an even greater level of protection to sensitive data on business networks.

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The bottom line is that specific content, mainly romantic fiction, offers a far greater level of protection than traditional methods – like encryption, data loss prevention (DLP), firewalls and anti-spyware. By flooding the business network with romantic literature, hackers will find it hard to reach confidential data and steal it. Research has shown they will be distracted for more than 1.4 hours. This is more than enough time for any company’s security team to spot the security breach and counteract.

"It was certainly a surprise to find that romantic fiction successfully distracts hackers from their purpose, but when we thought about it, all became clear. Basically, the security industry as a whole has missed a trick, and that is exploiting the Achilles' heel of hackers. They're human, just like the rest of us. And if you give them something titillating to peruse, they can't restrain themselves. It's a little like luring a mouse into a trap: they may sense the danger but cannot resist a little morsel of cheese," explained Senior Security Analyst with Sophos, Carole Theriault.

Sophos employees now have a new task. On top of their regular anti-malware and anti-spam duties, they now have to write romantic fiction as well. What they come up with has to be properly good – the fear is that the bad guys will come up with Anti-Romance Scanners that could detect romance written by Sophos researchers. The researchers’ limited amount of imagination could give them away; the scanner may identify a researcher’s writing style and tip off the bad guy. So Sophos called out to all of you out there to lend a helping hand.

“We are concerned that hackers could create Anti-Romance Scanners to identify romantic literature written by our analysts (who, like all writers, only have so much imagination). And that's where you can help. We need you to write and send us your own romantic fiction to add to our databases. Once we have enough we will be able to begin to roll out this protection across our customers' networks,” explained Senior Technology Consultant with Sophos, Graham Cluley.

The romantic fiction you come up with should be sent to romance@sophos.com. If Sophos uses your story, you will win a prize. Sophos came up with an example to get things started. We’ve reproduced it below:

Belle St-Horne sat pensively at her pristine white desk, on the lofty top floor of the architectural marvel that was her building. Beyond the vast sheets of glass housing the world-leading computer security complex, the grounds throbbed wildly with the onslaught of spring. Belle St-Horne

As she flicked the needle-sharp tip of her HB pencil against her palm, her thoughts were filled with the actions of her greatest nemesis: PhatHack, the notorious underground cybercriminal who was still wreaking havoc across the web, despite Belle dogging his every digital footstep. Yesterday's attack had brought famous micro-blogging service Twaddle to its cyberknees, yet the daring and cunning Phathack had managed to elude Belle's reach.. once again.


God, how she hated not getting her way. Her record, nearly as flawless as her physique, meant the authorities and legal teams adored working with her. She was impossible to distract once she sunk her immaculate teeth into a pursuit of a bad guy. She definitely needed to get him in handcuffs - but how?


The stormy glint in her eyes intensified with her frustration, serving only to accent her pale skin and rose-coloured lips. She quickly stood and paced around to the front of her desk, dropping her pencil en route. As she bent down to retrieve it, she felt someone's eyes on her. The new CISO, Dr Hugh Jeune, smiled and raised an eyebrow. She wondered if he'd noticed the cut of her pinstriped skirt, and the cherry-red soles hidden beneath her black leather peep-toes.


Hugh walked over and said "You look like your deep in thought Miss St-Horne - anything I can help with?"


She treated him to a lazy glance through her long lashes and said in her cut-crystal accent "You're very kind, but no - just need to focus and get this guy off the cyberstreets!"


Hugh smiled as he moved closer and touched her elbow, "You know, if you were after me, I just know it would be only a matter of time before you caught me...."
"

The faster I can pin this donkey to the wall, the better!" she teased as he walked off.


Belle gently stretched her slender, perfectly formed body and returned to her desk. She absentmindedly wound her long raven hair into a messy knot and secured it with her pencil. Wait a minute - what was that? She was convinced she saw her cursor move, but she was nowhere near her Mac's trackpad. She jumped and ripped out the network cable and then turned off her wireless connection.


She grabbed the receiver and dialled. As the phone picked up, she said "Hugh, Hugh - Code Orange. Think Phathack's sniffing around. Oh, and I'll throw 10 Archers your way if you trace him."


She waited a beat, but heard nothing. "Hugh?" She heard laughter.... and it didn't sound like Hugh. "I think you know who this might be. Poor little Belle - playing a man's game... and about to lose."




Tags: Sophos, Security, Protection Through Distraction, Romantic fiction
About the author: George Norman
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