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FBI Warns of AI Deepfake Sextortion Schemes

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Article by: Kristin Garriss, Nikki DeMarco - yahoo! news

A warning from the FBI may impact what you share online and post on social media.

The agency says some criminals are now using artificial intelligence to transform harmless photos into explicit content. Officials explain that advances in artificial intelligence are improving the quality of fake images.

“Anybody can now access, can digitally manipulate or edit these images and create harmful content out of benign content,” said Lauren Coffren, Executive Director of the Exploited Children Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The FBI reports the victims range from children and adults. According to the alert, many of them didn’t even know their photos were copied, manipulated, and shared until someone else told them.

Other times, the altered images are sent directly to victims for harassment.  The FBI warns criminals are threatening to share these deepfakes on social media if they aren’t paid a ransom.

“Payment does not stop the threats, it just increases the requests for more and more and more money,” said Coffren.

The FBI warns victims are also targeted for sextortion. This type of crime typically happens when victims are coerced into sharing sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves. In this case, the agency says criminals may use these fake pictures to get victims to send them real sexually explicit content.

Experts say it may be difficult to prevent these crimes because many of us use the Internet so that’s why they want you to have a plan just in case this happens to you or your child.

People can report instances of child sexual exploitation or even these images that have been created as benign images to the cyber tipline,” said Coffren. https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertipline “They can get assistance and help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to get that content taken down.”

Coffren said they’re also urging AI creators and lawmakers to act too.

“We need more guardrails around this type of technology before too much imagery is created that is completely indistinguishable,” she said.

FBI officials started tracking an increase in sextortion cases involving fake images or videos in April.

The FBI recommends the following tips when sharing content or engaging with users online:

* Monitor children’s online activity and discuss risks associated with sharing personal content.

* Use discretion when posting images, videos, and personal content online, particularly those that include children or their information.

* Images, videos, or personal information posted online can be captured, manipulated, and distributed by malicious actors without your knowledge or consent.

* Once the content is shared on the internet, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove it once it is circulated or posted by other parties.

* Run frequent online searches of your and your children’s information (e.g., full name, address, phone number, etc.) to help identify the exposure and spread of personal information on the internet.

* Apply privacy settings on social media accounts—including setting profiles and your friends lists as private—to limit the public exposure of your photos, videos, and other personal information.

* Consider using reverse image search engines to locate any photos or videos that have circulated on the internet without your knowledge.

* Exercise caution when accepting friend requests, communicating, engaging in video conversations, or sending images to individuals you do not know personally. Be especially wary of individuals who immediately ask or pressure you to provide them. Those items could be screen-captured, recorded, manipulated, shared without your knowledge or consent, and used to exploit you or someone you know.

* Do not provide any unknown or unfamiliar individuals with money or other items of value. Complying with malicious actors does not guarantee your sensitive photos or content will not be shared.

* Use discretion when interacting with known individuals online who appear to be acting outside their normal pattern of behavior. Hacked social media accounts can easily be manipulated by malicious actors to gain the trust of friends or contacts to further criminal schemes or activity.

* Secure social media and other online accounts using complex passwords or passphrases and multi-factor authentication.

* Research the privacy, data sharing, and data retention policies of social media platforms, apps, and websites before uploading and sharing images, videos, or other personal content.

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