The FBI Releases Recommendations to Counter the Rise of Deepfake Extortion Schemes

Deep fake hoax false and ai manipulation headline news across international media. Abstract concept of news titles on noise displays. TV glitch effect 3d illustration.Deepfakes are a relatively new technological advancement. These doctored videos or images, created with artificial intelligence (AI), are being used to manipulate people of all ages and backgrounds for a wide range of motives. Some use them for benign entertainment or educational purposes; they’ve even helped protect protestor anonymity in oppressive governments. Unfortunately, the temptation is too great for the bad guys. Cybercriminals use these videos or images to harass, shame, or extort their victims by threatening to release the fabricated material to the public unless their demands are met, leaving a wake of emotional distress, reputational damage, and privacy violations.

The FBI regularly receives reports from victims, including minors and other nonconsenting individuals, whose photos or videos have been manipulated into explicit content. These altered visuals are subsequently circulated on social media platforms or pornographic websites to harass the victims or engage in sextortion schemes.

The FBI emphasizes the importance of exercising caution when sharing personal photos, videos, and identifying information on social media, dating apps, and other online platforms. Although seemingly harmless at first, these shared images and videos can provide malicious actors with a wealth of content to exploit for criminal purposes. With advancements in content creation technology and the widespread availability of personal images online, malicious actors have new opportunities to find and target victims. This exposes individuals to potential risks such as embarrassment, harassment, extortion, financial loss, or prolonged re-victimization.

To mitigate these risks, the FBI has released a list of recommendations to reduce their vulnerability to exploitation and maintain greater control over their personal content and online presence.

To mitigate these risks, the FBI recommends the following when sharing content or engaging with others online:

  • Monitor children’s online activity and have open discussions about the risks associated with sharing personal content.
  • Use discretion when posting images, videos, and personal content online, especially if they involve children or their information. It’s crucial to remember that such content can be captured, manipulated, and distributed by malicious actors without your consent or knowledge.
  • Regularly conduct online searches using your name, address, phone number, or other personal information to identify any exposure or spread of your data on the internet. You can also search the dark web for your information as we discussed in this blog post.
  • Implement privacy settings on social media accounts, including setting profiles and friend lists as private, to limit the public exposure of your photos, videos, and personal information.
  • Consider utilizing reverse image search engines to locate any unapproved instances of your photos or videos circulating online.
  • Be cautious when accepting friend requests or communicating with unknown individuals online, and never release money or images to unknown individuals.
  • Exercise discretion when interacting online with known individuals who exhibit abnormal behavior. Hacked social media accounts are often a gateway for cybercriminals to gain trust from friends or contacts.
  • Secure your social media and online accounts using strong passwords or passphrases and enable multi-factor authentication.
  • Before uploading or sharing images, videos, or personal content, research the privacy policies, data-sharing practices, and data retention policies of social media platforms, apps, and websites to understand how your content may be handled.

Click here to download the full FBI report as a PDF. Additional resources provided by the FBI include information on sextortion and important press releases regarding these schemes. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers a service called Take It Down to help victims remove or stop the online sharing of explicit underage content.

Richard Stokes: As the Director of Sales for Network 1, Richard identifies “future” clients that can benefit from the support of an experienced, outsourced IT team. He helps clients and prospects find technology solutions they need to achieve better productivity and efficiency so they can focus on making money and growing their businesses.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.

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