June 15, 2023

Deepfake-Driven Sextortion: FBI Issues Urgent Warning and Protective Measures

Bones Ijeoma

CEO and co-founder

The FBI issued an urgent warning about the threat of deepfake-driven sextortion schemes. Learn crucial protective measures and recommendations.

Deepfake technology has emerged as a serious concern in recent years, with malicious cyber actors exploiting its capabilities for illicit purposes such as explicit content and sextortion schemes. Recognizing the urgent need to address these threats, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently issued a crucial Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness and provide recommendations for safeguarding individuals and organizations against deepfake-related sextortion.

Understanding Deepfakes and Sextortion

Deepfakes, synthetic media generated using AI algorithms, manipulate visual and audio content to create deceptively authentic-looking videos and images. These manipulations are often achieved by using publicly available photos and videos found on social media platforms and other online sources. Malicious individuals leverage this technology to produce explicit or compromising material that can be used for various nefarious purposes.

Sextortion schemes involve cybercriminals threatening victims with the release of intimate or explicit content unless a ransom is paid. Deepfakes provide these perpetrators with a powerful tool to deceive and manipulate targets, significantly increasing the effectiveness and impact of their extortion attempts.

The FBI’s Concerns and Recommendations

The FBI, recognizing the growing threat posed by deepfake-related sextortion, has issued a set of recommendations to help individuals and organizations protect themselves against these schemes. These recommendations are designed to promote awareness and proactive measures that can mitigate the risks associated with deepfakes and sextortion:

  1. Educate Yourself and Your Friends & Colleagues: Stay informed about the evolving techniques used by cybercriminals to create and distribute deep fakes. Train your employees to recognize the signs of sextortion attempts and encourage open communication to report any suspicious activity.
  2. Strengthen Cybersecurity Measures: Ensure that your business has robust cybersecurity protocols in place. Regularly update and patch all software and systems, implement strong passwords and two-factor authentication, and conduct frequent security awareness training sessions.
  3. Monitor Online Presence: Regularly review your organization’s online presence, including social media profiles and public forums. Identify any leaked or vulnerable information that could be exploited by malicious actors.
  4. Limit Data Exposure: Be cautious about the information you and your employees share online. Restrict access to personal and sensitive details that could potentially be used to create deep fakes or aid in sextortion attempts.
  5. Implement Incident Response Plans: Prepare your business with an incident response plan that outlines the necessary steps to take in case of a deep fake-related sextortion incident. Ensure your employees understand their roles and responsibilities during such situations.
  6. Report Incidents: If you or your organization becomes a victim of a deep fake-based sextortion scheme, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or your local law enforcement agency. Reporting anything in a timely manner can aid investigations and protect others from falling victim to the same perpetrators.

Sextortion schemes facilitated by deepfake technology pose a significant threat to individuals and organizations alike. By staying informed about the risks, educating employees, and implementing robust cybersecurity measures, individuals and organizations can effectively mitigate the potential harm caused by these schemes. It is important to remember that vigilance and proactive measures are key to protecting oneself and one's organization from the malicious exploitation of deepfake technology.