An anonymous reader writes "Research by Prof. Giovanni Vigna of the University of California leads him to believe that the malware of the future will come in a friendly form, be genuinely useful and may not reveal its intentions for a protracted period of time. Prof. Vigna, speaking at IP Expo in London, outlined a fearful future of 'mimicry' in evolved strains of malware. In the current stage of the war between malware and security researchers, the emphasis is almost entirely on the attempt to convince increasingly intelligent — and increasingly suspicious — malware that it is operating in a bare-metal environment when it is in fact in a sandbox or VM environment. For the malware, the stakes are tremendously high — if it has reached the point of OS-level execution without its hash being indexed and red-flagged by online security databases, it cannot afford to reveal its intentions in a test environment. This article outlines the extraordinary game of cat-and-mouse being played between researchers and hackers, and how future malware exploits are likely to abandon a rush for the buffer overflow in favor of 'the long game' — and to make themselves useful in the process.