23rd February 2024 6:32 am
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Cybercriminals are using AI to fake explicit photos and extort people

  • The FBI has warned US citizens that incidents involving deepfakes in sextortion cases are rising.
  • Cybercriminals are using benign photos and video to create explicit content of victims and demanding money or real photos.
  • Sextortion and similar crimes are illegal in South Africa but folks should be cautious of what they share online and where.

While artificial intelligence can help you with research or serve as a fun distraction for a few hours, it can also be used by nefarious individuals to do terrible things. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this week warned US citizens that malicious actors are creating deepfaked explicit content using benign photos and videos in order to extort them.

“Technology advancements are continuously improving the quality, customizability, and accessibility of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled content creation. The FBI continues to receive reports from victims, including minor children and non-consenting adults, whose photos or videos were altered into explicit content. The photos or videos are then publicly circulated on social media or pornographic websites, for the purpose of harassing victims or sextortion schemes,” the bureau said.

The FBI says that once the images or videos are created, they’re then sent to the target and they are extorted. Worse, some folks will stumble across the deep fakes and in a bid to get them taken down, face a shake down. The malicious actors often demand money or real explicit content in order to remove or keep the deepfake content private.

“As of April 2023, the FBI has observed an uptick in sextortion victims reporting the use of fake images or videos created from content posted on their social media sites or web postings, provided to the malicious actor upon request, or captured during video chats,” said the FBI.

The FBI offers several recommendations, the most of important of which may be posting images of yourself and children to the public internet, to a minimum. Should you want to share this content, as folks do, it may be best to lock your profile down so that only your friends and family can access that content.

In South Africa, distributing sexually explicit images or videos of a person without their consent is illegal. While deepfakes may be fake, distributing an explicit image of somebody’s likeness can get you in trouble.

Just ask the 34-year old man who was arrested for putting the faces of President Cyril Ramaphosa and police minister Bheki Cele on adult content recently. According to The Citizen the man was charged on 22nd May for contravening the Cyber Crime Act.

With deepfakes being as easy as they are to make these days, we recommend spending some time this afternoon locking down your social media profiles, just in case.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Beats include cybersecurity, business, infrastructure, telecommunications, PC gaming and internet culture.

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