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Cyber Bites

Cybercriminals Manipulating Photos and Videos to Create Explicit Content

The FBI is warning malicious actors are creating synthetic content, also known as “deepfakes”. They are doing this by utilizing images taken from websites and social media and processing them with AI tools to create realistic sexually explicit content.

The criminals then use this content in Sextortion Schemes. The FBI notes many victims, which have included minors, are unaware their images were copied, manipulated, and circulated until it was brought to their attention by someone else.

From the FBI PSA

The FBI urges the public to exercise caution when posting or direct messaging personal photos, videos, and identifying information on social media, dating apps, and other online sites. Although seemingly innocuous when posted or shared, the images and videos can provide malicious actors an abundant supply of content to exploit for criminal activity. Advancements in content creation technology and accessible personal images online present new opportunities for malicious actors to find and target victims.

They offer the following recommendations:

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

  • Run frequent online searches of you 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 trust from 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.

Definition

Sextortion - where someone threatens to distribute private and sensitive material, such as sexual images or videos, unless the victim provides them with more explicit content, money, or other favors. It is a form of blackmail and can have serious emotional and psychological effects on the victim.

Source: FBI Alert Number I-060523-PSA


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