‘Deepfake’ emerging as new threat, cybersecurity firm warns

“Fake news” and “Deepfake” technology continue to be an emerging threat, cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has warned.

Trend Micro research director Robert McArdle

Fake news is defined as a tool for “disinformation campaigns” while “deepfake technology” is a term used for “a collection of different AI-based image manipulation techniques.” These emerging threats are often used for cyberextortion, Trend Micro said.

Deepfake is particularly frightening because it has the potential to produce fake video and audio clips for cybercriminals to illegally connect money from individuals, government institutions, and private companies globally.

“We are living in a golden age for elite cyber attackers,” said Robert McArdle, research director at Trend Micro said, adding that “in the early ages of hacking, attacks were carried out manually by attackers. Then, the explosion of malware followed, wherein attackers develop codes that perform hacking through compromising machines and using botnets.”

“Now, the most damaging attacks are carried out directly by very skilled human attackers again using effective tools creatively,” McArdle said.

McArdle predicts that attackers will combine Deepfake technology with some of today’s extortion-based ransomware to form business models that make successful cybercrime attacks against organizations.

An attacker can, for example, alter photos and videos (complete with voice or audio) to generate a convincing Deepfake then blackmail a victim by threatening to send the Deepfake link to all the contacts in his/her phonebook or email contacts list unless he/she sends payment to a Bitcoin account.

In the next 12 months, McArdle also said there are emerging trends in the threat landscape including “post intrusion” ransomware. He said these ransomware attacks will significantly increase, and attackers will focus on organizations that provide critical services and infrastructures.

He also predicted that cybercriminals “will go deeper into banking networks, focusing on the manipulation of interbank networks and attacks targeting ATMs.”

Trend Micro, meanwhile, held a cybersecurity conference in the Philippines called Decode. The event is an annual cybersecurity conference organized and facilitated by the company.

Now on its third year and with the theme “GEAR Up: Defending the Connected World,” the summit gathered close to a thousand local IT and technology professionals from various parts of the country to orient them about the latest in the threat landscape, industry trends and new technologies, as well as to empower them to secure the digital infrastructures of their organizations.

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