Experian expects deepfake content to create geo-political confusion in 2020

Credit
bureau Experian has rolled out the 2020 edition of its annual Data Breach
Industry Forecast. The report predicts hackers will increasingly target the
political scene and activists using deepfake content and other infamous cyber
weapons.

A top
prediction on Experian’s list involves phishing, a time-tested vector favored
by hackers. Only this time, the agency cautions, we’ll see a spike in the SMS version,
called “smishing.”

“Cybercriminals
will leverage text-based ‘smishing’ identity theft techniques to target consumers
participating in online communities, such as those supporting presidential candidates,
with fraudulent messages disguised as fundraising initiatives,” reads the
forecast.

Experian
tells readers to watch out for telltale signs like misspelled words, poor grammar
and requests for personal information such as your social security number,
credit card or bank account information.

“A good rule
of thumb is to refrain from responding to text messages from unknown senders,”
it says.

Another
noteworthy projection is that cyber-crooks will begin leveraging deepfake content to help influence political outcomes
– i.e. in nation-states with upcoming elections or ongoing political turmoil.

“As this
technology comes of age and becomes readily accessible it will increasingly be
used by cybercriminals and nation states to foster real disruption – both in
financial markets and in politics,” according to the forecast.

Bitdefender
supports this prediction. Social media users have no tools yet to determine
whether the content they are consuming is doctored. As the technology used to
create deepfakes advances rapidly, motivated threat actors will likely increasingly
harness its believability to achieve a plethora of end goals, including to sow
political discord in targeted nation-states.

Other
predictions from Experian include:

  • Hackers will use readily available
    drones to steal consumer data from devices connected to unsecure networks on
    the streets below.
  • Burgeoning sectors, such as cannabis retailers,
    cryptocurrency entities, or environmental organizations, will be increasingly targeted
    by hacktivists as a form of protest.
  • Identity theft will increase sharply as
    cyber criminals seek to exploit the convenience of point-of-sale transactions, especially
    at large venues like concert festivals and sporting events.

Readers can access the full report here. The paper also looks back on Experian’s predictions for 2019 which, it’s worth mentioning, didn’t quite pan out as expected.

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