The FBI has warned of an uptick in cases where “deepfakes” and stolen personal information are being used to apply for jobs in the U.S. — including faking video interviews. These headlines can captivate readers with wild stories about how these unusual occurrences are impacting an unfortunate few. If we look at recent history, should the trend of odd or amusing headlines that slowly evolve into near prevalent attack warnings with millions of dollars at stake give us concern?
1988 The Morris Worm - the first worm on the Internet.
Robert Morris created what we now consider the first worm on the internet. The potentially harmless exercise quickly became a vicious denial of service attack when a bug in the worm’s spreading mechanism leads to computers being infected and reinfected at a rate much faster than he anticipates. The worm did not damage or destroy files, but it still took its toll. The exact damages may not have been fully quantified, but estimates started at $100,000 and soared into the millions1.
The headline had a large impact on a nation just coming to grips with how important—and vulnerable—computers had become. The idea of cybersecurity became something computer users began to take more seriously. Just days after the attack, for example, the country’s first computer emergency response team was created in Pittsburgh at the direction of the Department of Defense. Developers also began creating much-needed computer intrusion detection software2.
The Morris Worm created a new generation of hackers and a wave of fraud minded attacks that still have implications on cybersecurity to this day.
1989 AIDS Trojan - the first ransomware attack
Ransomware has exploded since then, resulting in over $1 billion in revenue for attackers in 2018, with that number expected to rise exponentially as attacks continue to increase, according to a study conducted by security company SafeAtLast. The average cost of a ransomware attack on a business is $133,000 according to that same report. More cases are being reported every day.
1999 The Melissa Virus - attacking through attachments
- how quickly computer viruses can rapidly increase.
- how difficult it is to trace the source of a virus
- how users can be exploited
- that there are no effective agency and government-wide processes for reporting and analyzing effects
- that computers can protect themselves from attacks when they are alerted to what is coming.
2019 Deepfake Compromise- first national headlines of deepfake leading to loss
A high-profile case from 2019 offers a prime example. AI was used to mimic the voice of a German conglomerate’s CEO and trick an employee at another business into transferring funds to the wrong bank account. Cybercriminals managed to steal almost $250,000 from a U.K. based energy company with the scam. The victim said it sounded just like the CEO, even down to his slight accent.
March 2021 - first deep fake Red Herring?
A Pennsylvania mom who allegedly created deepfakes to frame her daughter’s cheerleading rivals.
However, an investigation from Cosmopolitan revealed that the racy videos of a teenage cheerleaders were in all likelihood completely real — and that the viral scandal that emerged from it was actually the result of incompetent police work. This could be a tipping point that sees deepfakes become mainstream enough people begin to blame the technology for incriminating audio or video of themselves. As this technology becomes harder to spot, how will that impact how we view any content in terms of authenticity?
July 2022 FBI Warns Against Deepfake Interviewees
A genuine uptick in cases where “deepfakes” and stolen personal information are being used to apply for jobs in the U.S so much that the FBI posts a notice. An article featured by Techcrunch starts off by saying, “A lot of people are worried about the prospect of competing with AI for their jobs, but this probably isn’t what they were expecting.” A eelierly familiar ‘serious but light’ tone of what the problem is being reported in the news, just like early cyber threats, despite coming from the FBI. How long before these warnings are so numerous and we ourselves get “deepfaked” so much (like getting a vishing email or spam call today) that we are so numb that the headlines no longer garner a smile, but disconcert for how we got here.
The only way to protect is through vigilant education. Start by reading our Voice Intelligence Report to see what threats should not be ignored.