Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen fans will be horrified to hear that her novels are currently being used by cybercriminals to conceal online hacking.
Passages from Sense and Sensibility, written in 1811 and still one of the author's most enduring works, have been discovered 'wrapped around' malicious software, according to The Times newspaper this week. The aim is to to dupe virus scanners into believing that they are in the presence of a respectable web page. The hidden virus is then free to attack the victim's computer.
And, according to a report by technology company Cisco UK, what they call 'Austen-based attacks' are on the rise. For users encountering unexpected references to their favourite Jane Austen characters - such as Elinor Dashwood and Mrs Jennings - on a web page may be perplexing but not a cause for alarm, says the report, 'but their lack of unease gives adversaries more opportunity...'
Hackers, it seems, also use text from magazines and blogs which prove a better strategy than using random strings of text. Even more worrying is the suggestion that cybercriminals are increasingly mirroring the practice of legitimate businesses by setting up customer support lines and offering warranties to hackers who buy their software.
Meanwhile, mature 'newbie' authors like me who try to have a good online presence might be forgiven for disappearing into the attic to find ancient leather-bound copies of their favourite works. After all, if you can't join them you might as well beat them. What do you think?